Over the past few weeks, there have been rumors that Vertcoin could soon implement a variation of Zerocoin to enhance privacy and anonymity in this particular cryptocurrency. I recently talked with Paul Bradley, one of the developers of Vertcoin, to clear the air on what kinds of features we are going to see added to Vertcoin in the near future. While Bradley stated Zerocoin implementation is probably off the table due to the negatives outweighing the positives, there are are still a few privacy-enhancing features that could be added to Vertcoin in the near future.
The Difference Between Anonymity and Privacy
While talking to Bradley, it became clear that the Vertcoin team is more concerned with creating a coin that could lead to mainstream adoption more than anything else. Bradley stated, "the governments of the world are not going to stand by while currencies that permit easy money laundering and tax evasion are widely adopted." It seems that, in his view, it makes more sense to leave mixing and anonymity features out of the base protocol. Bradley also questioned whether complete anonymity is actually something people want. When talking about whether or not people really care about their privacy he claimed, "I think they don't, not most of them. Otherwise people wouldn't sell their personal history to huge corporations for a pittance through loyalty cards and other means." Bradley spoke about the idea of using stealth addresses to enhance user-privacy, but it seems that complete anonymity through mixing features is off the table for now. Having said that, Vertcoin would not be able to prevent mixing services built on top of the base Vertcoin protocol.
When questioned about ASIC resistance, Bradley seemed convinced of the Vertcoin team's ability to avoid ASICs over the long term. One of the key points he made is that, for now, Vertcoin is really the only team completely dedicated to avoiding ASICs at all costs. He also stated, "We have some killer ideas about ASIC resistance that we would implement if it ever became necessary." Bradley claimed these new features would make adaptive N-factor look "positively ordinary", although he also stated implementing these new measures for ASIC resistance would probably not be necessary. With Vertcoin's dedication to ASIC resistance, Bradley concludes that "No one in their right mind is going to invest many millions of dollars in ASIC development for a croptocurrency whose development team is committed to ASIC resistance."
Views on Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Bitcoin
Near the end of my interview with Bradley, we started to chat about other cryptocurrencies. When asked about Ethereum's plans for ASIC resistance, it seems Bradley thinks they'll have to come up with something besides dagger. He stated, "We consider dagger to be very suitable for massive parrallelization [and] we think it's extremely vulnerable to ASICs." It should be noted that Ethereum recently announced they'll be having a competition of sorts to find the perfect solution for ASIC resistance on Let's Talk Bitcoin. Bradley also believes the likelihood of Litecoin hard-forking to adaptive-N in the future is rather low due to their high market cap, but he feels the "less entrenched" Dogecoin team might consider the change. My last question was a hypothetical where Bitcoin would actually go through a hard-fork to adapt ASIC resistant measures first created by Vertcoin, but Bradley "does not expect that". He said he would be "flattered [and] not worried at all" if the Bitcoin community decided to copy their plans.
Is Vertcoin the Real Deal?
I think most altcoins are in a bubble, but Vertcoin is one of the few cryptocurrencies that I wouldn't really call an "altcoin". Vertcoin offers a unique feature with its development team's dedication to ASIC resistance. The only question left is whether or not this is something that the market actually wants. The general population may never really care about ASIC resistance, which means Bitcoin's network effect will still be too large to overcome. It does let the Average Joe mine their own vertcoins, but it's not completely clear if this is actually necessary. After all, everyone didn't have to mine their own gold and silver when those metals were used as money. We'll have to wait and see what the market dictates for now. Vertcoin is definitely one of the cryptocoins that doesn't make me cringe when I look at the list of cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap.