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Zcash: Fulfilling The Digital Cash Promise of Anonymous, Private Transactions
ZCash is the first zero knowledge crypto protocol.
Zcash offers total payment confidentiality, while still maintaining a decentralized network using a public blockchain. Unlike Bitcoin, Zcash transactions automatically hide the sender, recipient, and value of all transactions on the blockchain. Only those with the correct view key can see the contents. Users have complete control and can opt-in to provide others with their view key at their discretion.
The Zcash protocol offers total payment confidentiality, serving as a true digital cash that leaves little to no publicly identifiable information about the parties involved or nature of a transaction. Unlike Bitcoin, Zcash transactions can be shielded to hide the sender, recipient, and value of all transactions on the blockchain. Zero knowledge proofs are at the center of Zcash’s confidentiality. Generally speaking, zero knowledge proofs allow for proving knowledge of some facts about hidden information, without revealing that information. The property of allowing both verifiability and privacy of data makes for a strong use case in a wide array of transactions.
Zcash uses a particular type of zero-knowledge proof called zk-SNARKs (or “zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge”). Within a Zcash transaction, there may exist a string of data that the sender of a transaction provides – the “zero-knowledge proof” – along with the encrypted transaction data which proves properties of the encrypted data cryptographically, including that the sender couldn’t have generated that string unless they had ownership over the spending key and unless the input and output values are equal. The proof also guarantees creation of a unique nullifier, which is used to mark tokens as spent. This allows for verification that the transaction is valid, while preserving privacy of the transaction details.
The Zero Cash Electric Coin Company, led by Zcash founder Zooko Wilcox, has already announced partnerships with J.P. Morgan Chase and its Etherum-based Quorum network. We view potential application of Zcash privacy technology to financial market transactions, in addition to global retail transaction volume, as a promising tailwind for network.
21 million Zcash currency units will be mined over time. Zcash is mined with new 2MB blocks being created roughly every 150 seconds. Token supply will mirror Bitcoin’s, but Zcash blocks will be mined 4 times as frequently in 2MB blocks (instead of 1MB in the case of Bitcoin). The more frequent and larger blocks results in transaction capacity that is roughly 8x that of Bitcoin.
Overall, the Zcash project received 3 million dollars from a range of investors. Because Zcash was not premined like many other coins, it instead utilizes a founder’s reward to pay founders, employees, advisors and early investors. The ZEC monetary base is the same as Bitcoins, but of the maximum 21 million ZEC currency units mined over time, 90% will be distributed to miners and 10% (2.1 million) will be distributed to founders/advisors/investors of the company over the course of four years. Unlike a pre-mine or an ICO, this structure offers little or no opportunity for the founders to pump-and-dump their holdings. After four years, the Founders’ Reward ends and all subsequent mining rewards go to miners.
Experienced Management Team, Advisors & Early Investors
Zooko Wilcox is the Founder and CEO. Zooko has more than 20 years of experience in open, decentralized systems, cryptography and information security, and startups. He is recognized for his work on DigiCash, Mojo Nation, ZRTP, “Zooko's Triangle”, Tahoe-LAFS, BLAKE2, and SPHINCS. Zooko Wilcox has founded and served as CEO of both Zcash and the Zerocoin Electric Coin Company. Advisors include leading names in the crypto community, including Gavin Andresen (Bitcoin Foundation), Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum), Arthur Breitman (Tezos), among others. Early investors include Pantera Capital, Digital Currency Group, Roger Ver, Erik Voorhees, Fred Ehrsam, among others.
The Investors' Debrief
Reasons to Invest
Reasons to Sell
Zcash addresses the privacy and confidentiality concerns stemming from blockchain-based payments that have led many individuals and institutions to shy away from adopting such technologies, particularly among institutions operating in financial markets where transactional anonymity is extremely valuable.
Zcash has the backing of several of the most highly-respected investors and advisors in the crypto world, drawing support from across ideological sects within the community. While appealing to broad swathes of the crypto world, it is also partnering with large incumbent financial institutions such as J.P. Morgan, a balancing act that gives us confidence in the quality and strength of its product.
Future applications of zk-Snarks may create further use-cases, especially in enterprise settings where new Z-cash applications may amplify the demand for robust privacy solutions; the increase in real-life use cases with cutting edge technology would increase the value of ZEC tokens overtime
The race for truly private transactions is hyper competitive. Traditional financial services providers are vying to develop their own products and services, while crypto competitors like Monero (XMR) have their own established products. Though we are encouraged by the strong team of advisors and partners that Zcash has established, there is clear competitive risk.
While difficult to say with certainty, many observers have noted that the majority of Zcash transactions are actually not being conducted using the shielded, private functionality that Zcash offers. Instead most are “public” much like a Bitcoin transaction. Critics suggest this stems from slower transaction speeds for the private transactions, which may raise scalability concerns.
Any network that facilitates truly anonymous transactions is likely to draw a skeptical eye from regulators.
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