Zcash, for a while now, has been at the forefront of the crypto industry. By market capitalization, it is the 23rd largest public digital asset. And, compared to other blockchain projects, Zcash has a fair-sized community and user base.
But, what the cryptocurrency has right now hasn’t satisfied its founders and the company backing the venture, the Electric Coin Company. Announced at ZCon1 in Croatia through trade publication Decrypt, the developer is looking to build a better blockchain for Zcash, one that can be used by “10 billion people”.
Zcash Wants to Bring Crypto Privacy Mainstream
For a while now, Zcash and Monero have been lauded by most to be forerunners in the cryptocurrency subset of “privacy”. While Monero has risen to the occasion, sporting low transaction times, minuscule fees, and immense fungibility, some fear that Zcash has not, with the blockchain not enabling private transactions (known as shielded) by default.
As reported by Decrypt, however, the Electric Coin Company is looking to radically change how Zcash works, specifically in a bid to make the cryptocurrency anonymous, easier to use, and more accessible to a global population.
To do this, the firm is looking to build an entirely new blockchain, as it intends to cast aside its current chain forked off Bitcoin in 2016. Speaking at the Croatian event, Electric Coin Company executives and employees unveiled plans to involve “sharding” in its chain.
Sharding is, of course, a leading scaling solution mentioned most in the developer community of Ethereum, who intends to implement Proof of Stake and sharding in the coming two years.
For those unaware, sharding is a mechanism which splits information in a database across different servers. This, in the context of cryptocurrency, could allow for different groups of nodes in a blockchain to process different requests, allowing for a potentially dramatic increase in transaction times and data throughput.
This proposed “entirely new protocol and blockchain”, as put by product designer Daira Hopwood, would be entirely separate than the current Zcash chain. So, when the time comes for the “new” Zcash to be activated, there will need to be a concerted effort to ensure that users, companies using the chain, and the addresses/coins themselves make the jump correctly. Right now, it is unclear how this transition will work.
Although this whole upgrade may sound arduous, the Electric Coin Company hopes that this new blockchain will revolutionize Zcash’s place in private finance. Right now, less than 2% of all ZEC transactions involve on-chain privacy, presumably because shielded transactions can be more expensive, hard to execute, and slower than their unshielded counterparts.
Indeed, most shielded transaction-friendly Zcash wallets that exist right now are not consumer-friendly. But, the new chain could change this, in that it may allow for “10 billion” individuals to take part in the anonymous use of cryptocurrency.
Ethereum Also Making Strides in Privacy
Speaking of privacy, Ethereum, a project which also intends to make use of sharding as aforementioned, has also made recent strides in this arena. Per previous reports from Blocknomi, “Big Four” auditor Ernst & Young, a company which is no stranger to cryptocurrency, unveiled what it calls “Nightfall”.
Nightfall is a technological breakthrough that the company has created to allow for obfuscate transaction details on the public Ethereum chain. Ernst & Young wrote:
“Nightfall integrates a set of smart contracts and microservices, and the ZoKrates zk-snark toolkit, to enable standard ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens to be transacted on the Ethereum blockchain with complete privacy. It is an experimental solution and still being actively developed. We decided to share our research work in the belief that this will speed adoption of public blockchains.”
In similar news, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has suggested that developers create an on-chain mixer, which would coalesce, mash, and hide transaction data to give users of the cryptocurrency some peace of mind.
With the rise of what some deem “draconian” financial laws and growth in financial surveillance, privacy in cryptocurrency seems needed now more than ever before. But will developers rise to the challenge?