Zcash Nixes Trusted Setup, Enters New Era With Major Network Update

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In brief

  • Zcash is shifting to the Halo proving system, facilitating trustless digital cash payments on mobile phones.
  • Famed whistleblower Edward Snowden participated in the Zcash launch in October 2016, without compensation.

The Electric Coin Company (ECC) announced today in a blog post the launch of the first major upgrade to the Zcash privacy coin network since November 2020, Zcash Network Upgrade 5 (NU5).

NU5 includes the Orchard shielded payment protocol, which the company says will remove reliance on the complex setup “ceremonies” that Zcash used in the past.

ECC says that using the Halo proving system within the protocol allows Zcash users to make private, trustless digital cash payments on mobile phones. This is made possible through a new address format called unified addresses, which removes the need to juggle multiple address types.

Another feature the company touted as being of interest to privacy-minded crypto enthusiasts is the ability to automatically route any ZEC received at a unified address to the latest shielded pool. This ensures that every Zcash transaction is shielded by default.

Zcash, a fork of the Bitcoin protocol, is known as a privacy coin. Zcash uses zero-knowledge proofs, a form of cryptography that can verify a legitimate transaction without exposing details such as potentially identifying information. Like Bitcoin, the total supply of Zcash is 21 million coins.

When Zcash launched in October 2016, its zero-knowledge proofs required a trusted setup phase that allowed users to construct and verify private transactions.

The original Zcash ceremony included among its participants famed whistleblower Edward Snowden, who went by John Dobbertin at the time.

According to ECC Senior Vice President Josh Swihart, Snowden was not compensated for his involvement, saying, “He did it as a service, as a public good, and believing in privacy.”

At $1.36 billion, Zcash is currently the 45th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and the second-largest privacy coin behind Monero, according to CoinMarketCap.

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