One of the major appeal of Bitcoin is the anonymity of its transactions. However, spend some time researching the industry and soon enough you’ll understand that Bitcoin transactions are not fully untraceable.
While Zcash was built on these same decentralized values, they took their privacy measures to the next level by obfuscating user activity. The team continues to make technological strides toward the widespread adoption of private peer-to-peer transactions, working hard to hit milestones and put their funding to good use.
Proposed Roadmap for the Next 2 Years
The Zcash Company is being funded until the end of October 2020 through a share of mining rewards.
After Halloween 2020, the rewards are programmed to make a 100% switch to the miners.
Time seems to move faster in the crypto space than anywhere else, and the Zcash team is wasting no time prioritizing their final funded years. After a recent meetup, the team established 6 deliverables based on 4 objectives: usability, innovation, sustainability, and decentralization.
In order to improve usability, Zcash will be focusing time and money on their wallet’s user interface. They plan to improve user experience for buying and spending Zcash, as well as enhance the integration process of third-party solutions looking to use the currency within their business models.
By combining a reference implementation and open-source library, third-party adoption will be accelerated over the course of future integrations, allowing the Zcash team to hone in on the work necessary to encourage mass adoption.
Brand Development and Market Research
Along with their reference implementation, the company is considering an allocation of funds for business development, market research, regulatory education, and marketing efforts focused on awareness and adoption. Their efforts will be measured and tracked by monitoring shielded transactions.
In order to improve their protocol, the team will be researching and evaluating technologies to enhance their product’s scalability and programmability, all while maintaining privacy and decentralization of the network.
Zcash will continue developing their community and brand by creating content to educate and spread awareness about shielded peer-to-peer transactions.
Overwinter Upgrade Activated, Sapling Inbound
Zcash released their first network upgrade, Overwinter, at the end of June 2018. Its purpose is to prepare and strengthen the network for future upgrades, which include improved performance for transparent transactions, transaction expiry, replay protection, versioning, and more.
Overwinter marks the first 2-tiered governance model for Zcash protocol upgrades.
Tier 1 is an opt-in upgrade, meaning all nodes will have the ability to upgrade with the latest protocol. In previous governance models, users were directed down a path, whether they were aware of it or not. Now they’ll have the option to upgrade after new protocols are released.
Tier 2 encourages nodes to make well-informed decisions in a timely manner. Before the Overwinter activation occurred, the Zcash Company worked with miners, exchanges, and vendors to educate and develop the network upgrade. A list containing most of the supporters can be found by clicking here.
Aside from the advocacy efforts above, the Zcash team ensured user safety by issuing alerts to previous node versions, sending some into “safe mode.” Although some Zcash nodes may not have received an alert, clients were still sent into “safe mode” until users upgrade their software.
The Zcash Company has also been relaying details to community members through social media, crypto forums, and the Zcash website.
Since the release of Overwinter, changes were made with the release of Zcash 1.1.2. The update focused on the upcoming major network upgrade, codenamed Sapling. For a full list of the changes made in the latest Zcash release, check out the Github milestone.
Sapling represents years of engineering and cryptographic breakthroughs designed to improve shielded transactions. It drives Zcash further from massive block verification costs, and “one giant step closer” to shielded addresses.
After the upgrade is activated, Zcash addresses will look a bit different. The original release of Zcash was called “Sprout,” and all addresses generated under the initial release start with “zc.”
Addresses generated after the activation of Sapling will be shorter, and start with “zs.” Both address versions will continue to work after the new upgrade is released in October 2018.
Sapling addresses can be constructed in seconds, using only 40 megabytes of memory. This will allow a wide variety of third-party solutions to support shielded addresses, while improving effective privacy for the entire Zcash network.
They’ll also allow trillions of unlinkable addresses to receive simultaneous payments with no performance cost on the receiving end.
Currently, shielded addresses support an incoming viewing key, which allows its holder to see the value of incoming transactions and memos. Sapling will extend the visibility to outgoing transactions, including transaction values, memos, and target addresses.
Source: Zcash Blog
Since users are able to view transaction details without exposing their private spending keys, information can be shared with third parties for compliance and auditing.
One of the more notable changes headed Zcash’s way is the decoupling of proof hardware and signature hardware. For example, hardware wallets will be able to support shielded addresses by allowing a computer to verify transactions without exposing the spending key.
Working out the details of private blockchain transactions has proven to be a tall order. You can stay up-to-date on on the next Zcash upgrade by visiting their dedicated Sapling webpage.
Coinbase Considering Zcash
The recent advances in cryptography have caught the attention of Coinbase, and Zcash is one of the 5 cryptocurrencies Coinbase is currently exploring.
Coinbase has a massive customer base of over 20 million, which would serve as an important, regulated introduction of Zcash’s technology. It would be the first privacy coin offered on Coinbase, which would be a giant step for privacy-by-default cryptocurrencies. In the announcement made on their blog, Coinbase had this to say:
Zcash is a cryptocurrency which uses recent advances in cryptography to allow users to protect the privacy of transactions at their discretion. The distinction between Zcash’s ‘transparent’ and ‘shielded’ transactions is analogous to the distinction between unencrypted HTTP and encrypted HTTPS. […] The Zcash protocol has been live since 2016 and the development team has published technical improvements that may reduce the memory consumption associated with transaction privacy by 98%.
The Zcash Company found encouragement in the reference, since HTTPS has become a backbone of the internet. Coinbase is aware of the performance improvements coming with the Sapling upgrade, and Zcash is ready to to integrate and support their new customers.
Whether or not Coinbase is able to add Zcash to their platform, the Zcash team is making significant strides for private transactions, and it’s becoming clear they’re doing something they believe in.
The Zcash Company mission is to empower everyone with economic freedom and opportunity. And privacy is necessary for economic freedom. Zcash was created precisely to protect the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens and guard them against harm by bad actors.
Related: Top 8 Privacy Coins