ZCash on Ethereum: Anonymity With Smart Contracts

ZCash privacy
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Ethereum was designed and developed to operate as the base protocol for smart contract settlements. It allows multiple parties to establish unalterable agreements with one another for several use cases, mainly for legal purposes.

The ZCash team is working on integrating its anonymous cryptocurrency and zk-SNARKs-based cryptography on top of Ethereum effectively anonymizing the protocol and providing a completely new level of privacy to Ethereum users.

In a more technical sense, the ZCash team in collaboration with the members of the Ethereum R&D team are adding zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge (zk-SNARKs), the cryptographic engine underpinning Zcash, onto Ethereum.

Earlier this week, ZCash engineer and Israel Institute of Technology researcher Ariel Gabizon released a blog post entitled “An Update on Integrating Zcash on Ethereum (ZoE)” to introduce the progress of the ZCash development team on the creation of ZoE and present a roadmap for their users and miners to follow.

The joint effort, which the two organizations like to call it as “Project Alchemy” is an ambitious initiative attempting to combine certain characteristics and attributes of two cryptographically secured networks into one merged platform. The result is a hybrid network which reflects the advantages of both Ethereum and ZCash.

Applications of ZoE

Cryptocurrencies like Monero or two-layer solutions on top of bitcoin such as Tumblebit and Mimblewimble are all trying to achieve an identical goal: to provide financial freedom to users.

The importance and necessity of financial privacy are often neglected by users that fail to recognize the benefits of it. As Monero lead developer Riccardo Spagni, better known as Fluffypony, explained during his presentation at Coinbase headquarters, financial privacy can help users avoid targeted advertising based on spending habits, exposure of salaries and income and most importantly, targeted crime based on one’s wealth.

ZCash and Ethereum R&D are trying to achieve a slightly different goal; the two organizations are leading Project Alchemy to maximize the potential of smart contracts in virtually every industry or market the technology can be put into use.

There exists a variety of smart contract use cases that aren’t feasible without propoer prrivacy measures and anonymity. One example of this is electronic voting. An increasing number of startups are looking into the possibility of using smart contracts to conduct decentralized election. However, within the current Ethereum network, using its public blockchain, users can track which individual submitted a particular vote.

Like presidential elections or any major election that occurs, anonymity must be guaranteed for users. Gabizon explained:

Imagine, for example, an election or auction conducted on the blockchain via a smart contract, such that the result can be verified by any observer of the blockchain, but the individual votes or bids are not revealed. Another setting is that of selective disclosure; for example, providing users the ability to prove they are in a certain city without disclosing their exact location.

To achieve this technical milestone and anonymous setting for smart contract users, certain stages must be achieved. Gabizon and the Ethereum R&D team provided the following roadmap for short-term development of Project Alchemy:

  1. Creation of Anonymous tokens and verifying equihash transactions on the Ethereum blockchain
  2. Implementation of equi hash proof of work algorithm used by ZCash

Once these two requirements are met, Project Alchemy can be tested and implemented to provide a broader applicability of smart contracts.

Image from Shutterstock.

 

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