ZCash: King of Crypto Privacy?

Bitcoin (BTC) may be the alpha blockchain in the crypto chain -- but how do you solve a problem like anonymity?

After all, a coin like Bitcoin is pseudonymous. Crypto investors seek security and transactional privacy in digital blockchain-based transactions. In other words, lack of anonymity means cyber hackers could expose social details in data breaches, anything from true identity to address. Following Facebook’s (FB) Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal, investors face an era where data protection matters more than ever.

That’s where top 20 privacy altcoin ZCash (ZEC) comes into play. ZCash delivers a compelling way to anonymize transactions for crypto enthusiasts. The anonymity when making crypto transactions stands strong here and cryptographically-proven. ZCash founder and CEO Zooko Wilcox’s coin fills a much-needed privacy gap in the crypto-verse.

Using the screener platform at Coinwatch.com, we scooped real-time stats on the volatile crypto market. Let’s take a closer look at the coin that has hooked bank giant J.P. Morgan’s (JPM) attention.

Currently, ZCash is ranked #19 with a market cap of $961.21 million. The last 24 hours have been positive for ZCash: its valuation has risen almost 21% and transaction volume boils down to a cool $15.13 million overnight. Today, the privacy-driven crypto coin hits a price of $207.17. Should you invest in this underdog?

Why? ZCash’s cryptography means absolute anonymity for its users. Johns Hopkins University cryptography professor Matthew Green is a founding scientist behind ZCash. Green has fired shots at Bitcoin as “the least private financial system ever invented.”

ZCash’s team of computer scientists and cryptographers came up with a protocol called zk-SNARK, an acronym for “zero-knowledge, Succinct, Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge. These zero-knowledge proofs eliminate a need for interaction between a prover and verifier.

The brilliant team of scientists and research cryptographers behind the protocol hail from Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and Tel Aviv University. Zero-knowledge proofs first came from the minds of MIT researchers in the 1980s.

Even Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin was left impressed with zk-SNARKs, calling the technology “hugely important” and “absolutely game-changing.” To put it bluntly, Buterin praised to Fortune that they’re “the single most under-hyped thing in cryptography right now.”

Former National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted in response: “I’m with Vitalik. Zero-knowledge proofs may be the future of private trade.” It’s no wonder that in September 2017, Snowden cheered ZCash on Twitter as “the most interesting Bitcoin alternative.”

Not only are the proofs a keystone of ZCash and blockchain data privacy, but ZCash marks the first widespread application of the cryptography technology. Even second biggest crypto coin Ethereum set loose a Metropolis (Byzantium) upgrade to the table last year integrating ZCash-trailblazed zk-SNARKs.

By May 2017, biggest bank giant in the globe J.P. Morgan chose to join forces with ZCash developers, integrating the privacy technology into its blockchain platform Quorum. Specifically, the partnership was forged between the banking giant and the company behind Zcash: the Zerocoin Electric Coin Company (ZECC).

Cornell University computer scientist Emin Gün Sirer saw the alliance as an organic move, especially considering “the finance industry thrives on privacy.” ZCash’s visionary leader Wilcox says his company’s vision is to “provide economic opportunity and financial freedom to every day.”

Ironically, Wilcox is not a fan when his coin is pigeonholed into a box for privacy. As far as ZCash’s CEO is concerned, “It’s a mistake to think about privacy as a limitation, a specialization or a niche.” Wilcox argues privacy is something that is “necessary for business,” “consumers,” as well as “actually necessary for decentralization.”

The goal down the line is for ZCash to “deliver the benefits of an open financial system to everyone.” Wilcox wants to offer a “safe financial fabric” to the world boasting universal access and recognition.

“There will be a very long stretch of decades of coexistence. But in the long run, the open and decentralized things will subsume the closed, centralized things, which are too vulnerable to corruption and exploitation,” says Wilcox.

Coming this October is a new protocol upgrade called Sapling, primed to meaningfully boost ZCash’s scalability of private transactions. Founding scientist Green is ready to unleash the new privacy technology, which “is effectively the same construction [as before] but much more efficient, bring proving times down to a second or two.”

While Green is a fan of “fancy crypto,” he looks forward to the upgrade: “I also just want to take out my phone and make anonymous transactions.” Look for the efficiency of computing verification proofs to take a giant leap forward.

A first hard fork will go underway beforehand called Overwinter, which ZCash believes will “strengthen the protocol for future network upgrades, paving the way for the Zcash Sapling network upgrade later this year.”

Investor and founder of crypto hedge fund firm Scalar Capital Linda Xie believes privacy is vastly “undervalued” and “misunderstood” in the crypto world. Xie notes that she is “bullish” on the crypto coin. Just how undervalued? Grayscale Investments (asset manager and subsidiary of crypto-focused Digital Currency Group) financial analyst Matthew Beck wagers: hypothetically, ZEC value could push past a colossal $62,000 by 2025.

That’s only if the coin’s assumed value takes a 10% slice of all offshore wealth in seven years. Yet, the ‘what if,’ even hypothetically is one to track. The crypto king of privacy could one day race to the top.

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This article was written by Julie Lamb.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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