There is very little doubt in the fact that Bitcoin has drastically altered our perception of money. It started a revolution in the blockchain industry that has prompted many developers to either make a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin or build on it to expand the scope of blockchain application. Zcash is among the many cryptocurrencies that appear to be quite similar to Bitcoin on the surface, but as we dig deeper, it shows a different picture.
What is Zcash (ZEC)?
To understand Zcash (ZEC), think of it like Bitcoin but with an added layer of privacy and anonymity. Zcash is a decentralised, open-source cryptocurrency that maintains the privacy of transactions using zero-knowledge cryptography. Simply put, transactions on the Zcash blockchain can be shielded to hide transaction details like sender information, recipient information, and the amount that is transferred/exchanged.
If Bitcoin is like http, then Zcash is https - a secure transport layer.
To understand why Zcash is an important player in the cryptocurrency space, let us first understand Bitcoin transactions. As you may know, all BTC transactions are recorded on a publicly visible ledger called the blockchain. This involves information like sender address, receiver address, transaction history, total BTC balance and the amount of BTC transferred.
If you have ever transacted in BTC, then your BTC public address can be viewed by anyone. Even though they won’t know it is you, they can still view your transaction history and other sensitive information.
Despite the fact that these addresses are cryptographically secured, sophisticated software have been developed that can de-anonymise the address. Even though your transactions in BTC are legitimate and immutable, you still would not want anyone else to know all the information about these transactions, would you?
That’s where Zcash comes in. ZEC uses a new technology called zero-knowledge proof that allows one to prove something, without requiring the party in question to reveal any sensitive information. The technology is named so because zero knowledge is revealed to the verifier in the process. The zero-knowledge verification protocol developed by Zcash is known as zk-SNARK and the anonymous transactions that take place owing to this technology are known as shielded transactions. Using zk-SNARKs technology, encrypted transactions can now be deemed valid. This means that you can now transfer funds in Zcash on a decentralised network without having to reveal any sensitive information.
Users of Zcash can either opt for shielded transactions feature or let the transaction be public. In the former case, the shielded address will start with the letter ‘z’ supported by zero-knowledge proof. In order to selectively share transaction details with certain individuals, a user can share a ‘view key’ with these people. This is different from the ‘spend key’ that is used to spend funds.
Zcash is also among the first fungible cryptocurrency. It does this by unlinking shielded coins from their history on the blockchain.
Zcash is a fork of the Bitcoin protocol and just like its compatriot, Zcash too has a limited supply of 21 million ZEC units. ZEC units are released through mining.
Where to buy Zcash (ZEC)?
ZEC units can be bought, sold, and traded on any of the major cryptocurrency exchanges like Bithumb, Poloniex, Bitfinex, Bittrex, Kraken, Coinome, et cetera. Keep in mind that you may have to trade it with BTC or ETH.
Zcash (ZEC) Wallets
Zcash units can be stored either using the core Zcash client, known as Zcashd, or by using any of the third party wallets. Some of these wallets are Jaxx, Coinomi, Freewallet, Bitpie, et cetera. However, the best way to store your cryptocurrency is by using hardware wallets like Trezor and Nano Ledger S.
Zcash (ZEC) Mining
It is possible to mine Zcash units. To run a Zcash mining node, all you have to do is install the core Zcash client and visit the 1.0 Guide, published on the official website of Zcash.
Keep in mind that 10% of the mining reward will be distributed to the stakeholders in the Zcash Company, and this reward is known as Founder’s Reward. The Founder’s Reward will be distributed incrementally in the first four years of mining so as to ensure that the coin is improved.
Initially, mining a block will fetch you 12.5 SEZ units and this number will be halved every four years (or 840,000 mined blocks).
ZEC Price Trends
At the time of writing this article, 1 ZEC unit is worth approximately 230 USD. However, being a relatively new asset class, this number is quite likely to vary.
The cryptocurrency has exhibited only one major bull run so far, which took place between December 2017 and January 2018. The price of 1 ZEC unit in this period surged from roughly $300 to $700. However, in mid-January, the coin took a nosedive and went below $500. The reason for this abrupt behaviour is primarily because of the growing popularity in the cryptocurrency space.
Risks associated with investing in Zcash
Just like every other cryptocurrency, Zcash is subject to extreme volatility and regulations by leading authorities worldwide. Therefore, instead of risking your money in Zcash, it is advisable to invest that sum in a traditional, safer instrument like mutual funds
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