The way the developers like to explain what is Zcash is through an anecdote comparing Bitcoin to http and Zcash to https. This makes a lot of sense, since Bitcoin, unlike Zcash is completely transparent. Zcash in contrast allows users to hide sender, receiver and value information of transaction. The way it does this is by encrypting this information to a so-called view key. Only the holder of this view key can unlock this information and have it available for review. With this Zcash promises full confidentiality, while still providing the safety of a decentralized public blockchain.
Three days ago the first Zcash client was released as a cmd tool available for Linux. Zcash is an ongoing project, so if you’re interested to support its development make sure to visit their web-site for more information. They have all the resources you need, Slack for communication, GitHub, Forums and even an IRC channel. All of these tools are indispensible when creating a community product.
How does it work?
The team of developers have brought to life an innovation. It’s called zk-SNARK and it’s a method of creating zero-knowledge proof statements. Just like with Bitcoin these statements help secure the network and keep an organized ledger in place. Unlike Bitcoin, the contents of the ledger are protected and encrypted. Nobody, except the parties involved in a transaction can know what amounts or to who has money been sent. Zcash allows opting in other people to view the transaction information, which is a nice feature for proving details in the event of an issue.
Who is responsible for Zcash?
Before Zcash, there was Zerocash protocol, and before that there was Zerocoin protocol. All of the people involved in the previous protocols are currently involved in Zcash as well. They’re the leading researchers of zk-SNARK, so basically they’ve brought this project up to life and now they have a crypto-currency based around it. The names of the authors of the whitepaper for zk-SNARK are Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Daniel Genkin, Eran Tromer and Madars Virza.
You can find the zk-SNARK whitepaper on the website of the International Association for Cryptologic Research, or you can just click here.
The Zcash blockchain went live on 28.10.2016, and mining has been available ever since. There is a lot of information available for users to dig into if they’re interested in mining this currency. Genesis Mining has already sold all of its Zcash cloud mining plans and they’ve started selling pre-orders for the second round starting on the 1st of December.
What is going to happen to Zcash?
It’s hard to say. One thing is certain though, we’re on the verge of a new crypto revolution or an epic failure. A lot of money has already been invested in Zcash, but it’s still an unproven competitor to Bitcoin.
On the up side though, Zcash complements Bitcoin weaknesses with the innate ability to protect client information when taking value, sender and receiver information under consideration. Will this be enough to overthrow Bitcoin from the throne? Nobody knows, but we will be watching for the results that time produces. 🙂