The Zcash company has announced its plans to enhance usability and security features for the year 2018. The company claims that mobile phone users will be able to securely process transactions using the cryptocurrency. The original idea behind the development of the Zcash digital currency was to offer a greater level of anonymity for the existing bitcoin users. Even though Zcash transactions are visible on its blockchain, pertinent transaction details such as the identity of the receiver and sender and the amount being transferred can be hidden.
Hiding these transaction details is an optional feature and transactions that are hidden using this feature are referred to as “shielded transactions”. It can be argued that this could potentially provide a gateway for money-laundering or other illicit activities. These are real concerns because there have been 170+ reported bitcoin-laundering cases in Japan recently. However, a closer look at how Zcash works does reveal that third parties can ask users for their “view keys”. This will allow the third party to verify and even audit the pertinent details of the transaction.
The concept of zero-knowledge cryptography is implemented into the Zcash blockchain. According to the Director of Research at Coin Center, Peter Van Valkenburgh, what zero-knowledge cryptography “potentially gives you is the ability for you to prove something about a data structure without revealing the data inside the data structure”. It’s kind of like providing a valid social security number to prove your eligibility to legally work, but that’s a gross oversimplification. It has only been little over a year (October 2016) since Zcash made its debut, and the crypto-world will be looking out for the upgrades that have been scheduled for 2018.
The first scheduled update is called “Overwinter”. It is scheduled for June 2018. Not much has been disclosed regarding the details of this upgrade except that the security around network upgrades will be improved. The Zcash roadmap blog also mentions that network upgrades will be handled more safely, including “governance contention”. The use of the term “governance contention” is vague at best as of right now.
The second scheduled update is called “Sapling” because it will incorporate updates to the Sapling protocol. It’s scheduled for September 2018. The main goals of this upgrade are to significantly cut down on the processing time and memory requirements of shielding transactions. What most people might be looking forward to with this upgrade is that “carrying” mobile wallets will become practical.
Because almost everything about Zcash and most other cryptocurrencies is open-source, an international community of researchers and developers are constantly trying to develop ways to improve the existing technology and infrastructure. The Zcash blog regarding updates ends by stating that they’ll be working on trying to accommodate (theoretically) an unlimited number of transactions and “private and scalable smart contracts”.
At the time of this writing, Zcash is trading for around $475 with an impressive market capitalization of over $1.35 billion (CoinMarketCap). These numbers are impressive considering Zcash has only been around since October 2016. Still, what concerns many reputable investors is that the cryptocurrency market is extremely volatile. With that said, Zcash is among one of the cryptocurrencies to keep an eye on as we begin the new year.