As Bitcoin becomes more mainstream the idea of a way to cloak transactions are becoming less viable in some people’s opinions. There have been forum posts from community members detailing accounts being closed for using gambling services or making purchases on a darknet market. Consequently, some people have looked to the altcoin scene in hopes of a totally anonymous cryptocurrency.
In the world of cryptocurrency, many believe fungibility is a very important aspect for the future of this technology. Because Bitcoin is pseudo-anonymous and most coin shufflers require a third party, other altcoins are trying to fill the role of private zero-knowledge transactions.
Zcash: ‘All Coins Are Created Equal’
There’s been a lot of talk about a cryptocurrency called Zcash in the virtual money community. The founder of the untraceable digital currency, Zooko Wilcox, launched the public alpha of the project back in January 2016. Zcash is a “decentralized and open source cryptocurrency that aims to set a new standard for privacy and anonymity through the use of groundbreaking cryptography,” according to its website. Wilcox is a well-known cryptographer in the space who created Tahoe LAFS, an encrypted storage system. The project had caused a lot of commotion in the cryptocurrency community when Zcash released its source code on GitHub.
Zcash transactions are untraceable because it uses encryption called zk-SNARK developed by the startup’s team. The transaction metadata within the network is encrypted, and zk-SNARKs are utilized to stop double spends.
“We believe that privacy strengthens social ties and social institutions, protects societies against their enemies, and helps societies to be more peaceful and more prosperous,” Wilcox said. “A robust tradition of privacy is a common feature in rich and peaceful societies, and a lack of privacy is often found in struggling and failing societies.”
The publication Wired details that investors such as Naval Ravikant and the Digital Currency Group’s Barry Silbert have invested over $700,000 USD into the startup. Zcash has also just recently added a Jack Grigg as a member of the engineering team, who according to the team is “an applied physics Ph.D. student, and by night, a privacy-focused crypto-hacker.”
Dash: the Privacy-Centric Cryptocurrency
Dash is an open source digital currency, released in 2014, formerly known as Darkcoin. The network uses Darksend to help anonymize the transaction process by mixing coins. Darksend has implemented a few variations but is originally conceived from the CoinJoin concept. The creator of Dash, Evan Duffield, said he created the coin because he realized Bitcoin wasn’t anonymous enough.
“I discovered Bitcoin in mid-2010 and was obsessed ever since. After a couple of years in 2012, I started really thinking about how to add anonymity to Bitcoin,” Duffield explains. “I came up with maybe ten ways of doing this, but I soon realized that Bitcoin would never add my code. The developers really want the core protocol to stay the same for the most part and everything else to be implemented on the top of it.”
Darksend uses what Dash calls Masternodes to handle the mixing services. Masternodes have also helped the community form a voting mechanism hard-coded into the network. The network takes in transactions by combining identical inputs from multiple users into a single transaction with several outputs. The privacy-centric Dash also uses a protocol called InstantX, which sends transactions nearly instantaneously within the network. Dash’s value has risen to the top five cryptocurrencies in the overall coin market capitalizations and at one time reached $15 USD per coin. The digital currency is currently worth roughly $4 with an approximate market cap of $24 million.
Monero: The CryptoNote
Monero is another strong competitor in the land of anonymous cryptocurrency that uses a method called CryptoNote. Monero is not a clone of Bitcoin and was derived from Bytecoin, an early altcoin. There are some significant differences compared to both Bytecoin and Bitcoin within the Monero architecture such as target block time, and emission speed. The virtual money also has a strong anonymity feature as well, and research has claimed its service CryptoNote may be superior to coin shuffling.
The Monero daemon utilizes the CryptoNote technology within the currency’s network. The method used stealth addresses mixed with one-time ring signatures, which work to cloak transactions. Ring signatures were invented by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Yael Tauman giving the world of cryptography a new type of key process. The method is similar to group signatures, but there is no way to reveal the anonymity of single users within the group of users. Monero says that it has improved upon the CryptoNote feature and the currency offers an opaque Blockchain with a system called viewkey. The team says this makes the system optionally transparent and unlike any digital ledger out there today.
Monero is currently valued at roughly 80 cents a coin and sits at the number 12 market capitalization. In April, the cryptocurrency turns two years old and has persevered as many anon coins have fallen by the wayside. Another interesting fact about Monero is that it is a trading pair on the U.S. exchange Poloniex and is paired with every major coin on the platform. There are not many Altcoins that has been used as a trading pair besides Litecoin.
Anonymous Transactions Will Continue to Increase
ZCash is currently under development and has yet to show the world its methods, but it has been said to be a challenger due to the nature of its design. The community will judge its value when the release of this coin comes into public view. Both Dash and Monero have been around for some time with many other anon tokens nipping at their heels. Despite this, there are some who will not use altcoins and are waiting for better anonymizing features in Bitcoin to emerge.
Currently, those who are against altcoins still use third party coin shufflers located on the deep web or will use something like Dark Wallet or Samourai with their Bitcoin transactions. Nevertheless, anonymity and privacy will likely play an increasing role in the cryptocurrency world. With government’s and central banks prying into our affairs it is very likely these type of privacy networks will only grow more popular.
Do you think anonymous cryptocurrencies are important? Let us know in the comments below!
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Images courtesy of Pixbay, Shutterstock, Dash, Zcash, and Monero websites
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