In releasing its source code to developers, Zcash is hoping to make its software more secure so that it can achieve its goal of being a truly anonymous cryptocurrency for the global marketplace. The source code’s release, reported by CCN.com, marks a developmental step in the effort to create a more private cryptocurrency. Some see it as the first public alpha release of the best effort to date of untraceable digital money.
Zcash, formerly known as Zerocash/Zerocoin, announced in its blog that the most important feature bitcoin brings to the table is being an open financial platform that anyone can connect to without getting someone’s permission. Seven years into the bitcoin project, the cryptocurrency community is still learning about bitcoin’s possibilities and how they will play out in real economies and communities.
Zcash’s improvement over bitcoin is its privacy, Zooko Wilcox, founder and CEO, stated in the blog. Its team of engineers and cryptographers have made advances in the underlying mathematics to build a privacy-preserving variant of bitcoin’s software. The website has a section explaining the technology .
Cryptocurrency developers have been aware of the Zerocoin Project for a couple of years. Several developers have explored the software in studying ways to enhance privacy and anonymity of bitcoin and other altcoins.
What makes privacy so important? “Because privacy is a human right,” Wilcox stated. He claims personal privacy is needed for core human values such as dignity, morality and intimacy.
Furthermore, Wilcox noted, privacy is needed for business. Companies of all types require privacy to do business. The financial technology industry’s positive response to Zcash confirmed the importance of privacy in the financial industry.
People who have developed blockchain technology products have suddenly found they are heading for a roadblock since their customers, the banks, have incorrectly assumed that the technology comes with privacy. Banks require privacy in financial transactions.
A currency requires privacy to be viable long-term as a medium of exchange due to “fungibility,” which refers to the fact that all coins are made equal. Two $20 bills are of equal value to each other.
In a programmable and open financial system, privacy is the only way to ensure fungibility.
Privacy is also a social value, Wilcox noted. It strengthens social relationships and institutions. It protects societies against enemies and helps them become more prosperous and peaceful. A tradition of privacy is common to prosperous and peaceful societies. A lack of privacy characterizes failing societies.
The purpose of the technology preview on the Zcash website is to allow developers to download the source code and connect to the live “testnet.” Developers can mine “testnet-bux” play money and use it to make a cryptographically-protected transaction.
Everything released is under an open source license. The team has not applied for any patents.
Zcash needs further work to become an open system for the global marketplace. The software in its current form is insecure in several “serious” ways. The release is strictly to allow developers and entrepreneurs help the team debug, inspect and improve the technology.
In the days to come, Wilcox will present posts to explain different aspects of the system, covering how it works, the funding model, and what others can do to help.
Images from Shutterstock and Zcash.