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Zcash is a digital currency designed with privacy, safety, and identity-protection focus in mind, features that allowed ZEC to made its way among the crowd of other cryptocurrencies which share some of its characteristics (e.g., Monero). Zcash allows merchants to create anonymous transactions while still benefiting from all the advantages of blockchain technology.
As we know it today, the ZEC altcoin is the result of a project that was originally known as ZeroCoin. Since its inception, ZeroCoin had aimed to improve the anonymity for all those users who had adopted Bitcoin, way before it became the world's first-class cryptocurrency that it is today.
Zcash's objective to improve privacy in the crypto-verse is ensured via the encryption of each transaction detail inside the blockchain. This is accomplished in two ways: by obscuring both the sender & the recipient in a transaction and also by obscuring the transaction itself.
That means, for example, that all the payment information is protected and that the protocol utilizes a cryptographic system to guarantee this information and validate the users' identities involved.
This system uses the ZKP (Zero-Knowledge Proof) algorithm, which in turn utilizes Zk-Snark technology (which is the acronym of Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge). The latter is a complex system that refers to a construction of proofs. A user can demonstrate the ownership of private, sensitive data (e.g., the private key) without revealing their content. Users can decide whether to broadcast public (transparent on the blockchain) or private transactions/payments.
To clarify, all those payments that will be sent from & through a 'shielded' address and towards a 'transparent' address will have the value of the transaction made public.
Instead, if a payment is sent from a 'transparent' address to a 'shielded' one, the value that will be received will not be made public.
So, to sum it in simple, concise, and practical terms, ZKP preemptively blocks the publication of several pieces of blockchain-sensitive information - the kind of information that is instead fully available, for example, on the Bitcoin blockchain.
To describe this remarkable capability of Zcash, founder and CEO Wilcox O'Hearn has often been quoted using quite a telling aphorism:
'If Bitcoin is the HTTP of cryptocurrencies, Zcash can be considered the HTTPS.'
What is Zcash (ZEC) Wallet?
Before going further, it's fundamental to know what a wallet is. In plain words, a Zcash wallet can be used to receive, store and send ZEC.
In general, a wallet can be any software, physical device, or service that stores a user's public and private keys and interacts with the blockchain. The public key stored in a user's wallet equips him or her with a wallet address. That same person can then send currencies to other users' addresses created by the public key. Instead, the private key is chiefly used to sign and approve transactions and transfer coins to other users. The private key must never be shared with other users, as it would grant access to all of the wallet's funds.
There are various categorizations regarding wallets. One of the most general classifications synthesizes two prototypes of wallets: light wallets and full node wallets.
When operating a light client or a full node, users are also provided with a wallet that only they have access to. The main distinction between running a light client compared to running a full node can be distilled into three primary trade-offs:
- The required know-how for the setup
- The level of control
- The technical specifications to meet
When operating a full node, users actively maintain the blockchain's network (in this case, Zcash's) by making available their computer resources (e.g., processing power, shared disk space) the network. To run a node, users are required to download a full copy of the Zcash blockchain. There are also some significant technical specifications to meet - in terms of efficient bandwidth and connection - to correctly run a full node.
Meeting these specs - which require some basic technical know-how - will also enable users to host their wallets on the node. The commitment to establishing a full node brings more empowerment: users will be capable of overseeing each incoming and outcoming transaction - most events will be in the user's sphere of control.
On the other hand, light wallets are clients (a software or, simply, a 'computer') that enable users to communicate with a blockchain's network but do not burden them with downloading and managing a 'specular snapshot' of the blockchain. Thus, light wallets are much less cumbersome to set up, as opposed to full nodes. A light wallet simply connects to Zcash Network. It communicates with other blockchain nodes to receive, then relay - at any given time - the network's present state and then execute any operation. Light wallets do not require super-efficient CPUs or lots of memory space. All that is required to start is solely a functioning internet connection.
In essence, the choice between the two options depends on your preference and needs - would you trade more security and more control at the price of more investments in technical & economic requirements?
So now we know the difference between a full node and a light client. Let's delve more into the description of a wallet's features.
Zcash Wallet Features:
One natural question that often comes to mind is my private keys stored when I transfer my funds on a CEX (centralized exchange)? In this case, many crypto junkies would answer with an aptly 'cryptic' sentence, saying that, by depositing your cryptocurrencies in a centralized exchange, 'you're not the keeper of your private keys.'
The same concept is true for what is known as 'custodial wallets' - a class of digital wallets where the wallet providers store the user's private keys. These same providers then take on themselves the tasks of doing back-ups and providing security services on the user's assets deposited. Meaning that users will not have full control when utilizing the wallet and trust the provider to play by the rules and act in good faith.
On the other hand, 'non-custodial wallets' are decentralized wallets, meaning that users own their private keys. During setup, the user is shown a list of mnemonic words, which they'll be prompted to record and store carefully if they'll ever find themselves in the situation of recovering the wallet on a different device. Owning the keys designates the user with complete control over the funds. On the flip side, that also means that the user will sustain the single responsibility if the recovery phrase is lost, denying them the possibility to import the same wallet on other devices in the future.
Setting the above distinctions aside, it's worth noting that, to this day, most wallets - either custodial or non-custodial - support features that in the past were regarded as a 'privilege' of centralized exchanges: users can buy cryptocurrencies, swap them, and exchange them. ZEC wallets make no exception. These characteristics aren't solely ascribed to Zcash; instead, they are incorporated within many wallets, enabling users to manage ZEC and other crypto assets in real-time and execute any of the procedures mentioned above.
How to store Zcash Safely?
The best security practices to safely store your hard-earned ZEC follow the same principles as with any cryptocurrency. Below is a concise resumé of the most common yet effective safety measures:
Keep your ZEC in a private wallet.
Avoid storing your ZEC in exchanges for a prolonged period or more than necessary.
Always enable Two Factors Authentication (2FA).
If you choose a hardware wallet, use a hard-to-guess pin.
Store your private keys and mnemonic phrases safely on paper, in a safe place - do not store them online.
Never flaunt your crypto properties publicly. Avoid using displaying your real name and address online.
Always verify all the information on your screen before executing any transaction.
Expect that your devices could be compromised, at any given time, so always pay careful attention to what you see on your mobile/computer screen.
Be aware of phishing sites. Ensure you're connecting to the right exchange or URL and double-check that you're logging into the right web application/site.
Use a protected WiFi connection, which utilizes advanced cryptography, such as the WPA-2 protocol. Do never attempt to connect your wallet online through public WiFi.
Separate your funds - avoid storing all of your cryptocurrencies in one place. Use several wallets.
Set up whitelist withdrawal addresses. If you have a static IP address, use it for the security it can provide. This will make sure that only you can access your accounts and funds.
Do not overcomplicate security measures - try to find an equilibrium between complexity and safety. Loss of wallet access is just as common as hacking.
The ability to keep your cryptocurrencies safe and protected is of utmost importance. It's a path that you will be treading on to become your bank. The sooner you'll master it, the better.
Top 5 things to know about Zcash:
Here are some key takeaways on what's been narrated so far. I'm also adding some previously uncovered terminology if you're curious to know more and want to expand your knowledge. A more comprehensive glossary - from which the following definitions are freely drawn upon - can be found on Zcash Official Docs.
Zcash Mining: Mining is one-way ZEC can be acquired - that's how new ZEC 'comes to blockchain life' and is minted. The mining operations require a mining software and mining rig, both of which make full and efficient use of a computer's CPU, GPU, and a combination of the two.
Shielded Address: A shielded address (also known as a 'zaddr') sends or receives transactions such that the address, associated values, and encrypted information are not published to the Zcash blockchain. All these addresses start with the letter z. A shielded address uses zk-SNARKs to safeguard transaction data for value sent or received to it. Thus, a transaction that consists of only shielded addresses is called a shielded transaction. A transaction consisting of both shielded addresses and transparent addresses only protects the shielded address's data. Each shielded address has a spending key and viewing key.
Transparent Address: A transparent address (also known as a 'trader') sends or receives transactions such that the address and associated values are published on the Zcash blockchain. All these addresses start with the letter t. A transparent address does not utilize zk-SNARKs to safeguard transaction data for value sent or received to it. Thus, a transaction that consists of only transparent addresses is transparent about the entire transaction. A transaction consisting of transparent addresses and shielded addresses only reveals the data associated with the transparent address.
Shielded Transaction: A shielded transaction is a transaction exclusively between shielded addresses. The addresses, value, and optionally encrypted memo are shielded using zk-SNARK cryptography before the transaction is recorded in the blockchain.
zk-SNARKs: A zk-SNARK is a particular form of zero-knowledge proof used in the Zcash protocol, which allows shielded addresses to prove the validity of associated transactions without revealing the address or value transacted. For Bitcoin and transparent addresses, miners can verify that a transaction has not been double spent because the addresses and balances are publicly visible within transactions. zk-SNARKs allow this same double-spend protection for shielded addresses. The term, which stands for zero-knowledge Succinct Non-interactive Arguments of Knowledge, was first used in the Zerocash whitepaper.
Storing your ZEC safely is important. Yet, what about Zcash's economic and financial future? Will it ride the bull wave and make us rich? To make proper considerations, it is important to take into account the fundamentals underlying ZEC. In particular, Zcash can boast:
A privacy-centric transaction focus
Zcash attention to this peculiar category of payments can drive this cryptocurrency's growth, which has *almost* (read below) no rivals in its niche.
The rivalry with other privacy-focused cryptocurrencies (Monero)
Monero (XMR) represents the direct - and oldest - competitor to ZEC. That doesn't mean that Zcash won't succeed or that there won't be enough market share for the whole duopoly to grow and thrive. It simply implies, when picturing future scenarios, that Zcash will have to take into account its main rival in the privacy market, vying for the same end users.
Community of Zcash aficionados
Zcash can boast a strong community of users who have adopted ZEC and are willing to continue utilizing and supporting the altcoin. The presence of a deeply rooted community (of hodlers) is almost an undeniable positive factor in terms of value growth, especially in the mid/long-term reach.
Given these reliable fundamentals on which Zcash can solidly stand, the altcoin's value projection in the short-term (1 to 6 months) seems to point to a $180-200 price quota. These numbers - as always - are not financial advice and must be taken 'cum grano salis,' especially given the recent market volatility and overall macroeconomic juncture.
In the medium and long-term, it is expected that Zcash fundamentals will eventually play out, and this author finds it wouldn't be surprising to see Zcash reaching a very conservative all-time-high around the $400-500 mark per ZEC in 2-3 years. Again, these conditions will depend on the project's ability to fulfill the expected potential and reach & keep a dominant position in the ever-growing yet capricious market that is cryptocurrency.
For anything, you need to know about ZEC, visit the official Zcash website.
To keep up with the latest updates from the Zcash Foundation, follow them on Twitter.
Join the conversation on Reddit to stay up-to-date about the Zcash Foundation and ZEC.
Zcash on BitcoinTalk & LitecoinTalk Forums
Get in touch and socialize with other members of the Zcash community. Join the Forums at ZCashCommunity.com.
How To Store and Manage ZEC
ZEC is compatible with numerous wallet providers, including Atomic Wallet, a secure and decentralized crypto wallet. Atomic Wallet gives you access to over 300 cryptocurrencies through a decentralized platform built on a sophisticated architecture that keeps your investments safe. In Atomic Wallet, you can conveniently manage, earn, stake, and buy many cryptocurrencies and build your investment portfolio. Install the user-friendly Atomic Wallet App now and manage and exchange your ZEC today.