Hi friends! Here are my current thoughts on the basics of blockchain economics. These thoughts have been percolating for years, and I think they probably apply to almost all blockchains, at least ones that have a verifiable and predictable monetary base like Bitcoin and Zcash.
I have some ideas about how to evaluate potential protocol changes in light of this, but I think I’ll save that for a follow-on post because I want people to be able to agree or disagree about the basic facts and goals without considering how it would interact with their favorite proposed protocol change.
Fact number one: issuance of new ZEC coins by the protocol is a transfer of value, not a creation of value. Every time a miner or a Dev Fund recipient receives 1 ZEC from the protocol, they are richer, right? At today’s rates, they are about USD 70 richer. But that also means someone else is exactly USD 70 poorer. Who?
Fact number two: issuance of new ZEC coins by the protocol is a transfer of value from the ZEC holders. The value is not coming from out of thin air. It’s not coming from the miners. It’s coming from the ZEC holders.
I think a lot of people misunderstand these two things, and those misunderstandings can lead to a lot of mistakes and confusion, but these two statements above are not controvertible. They’re simply facts.
Fact number three: ZEC holders are going to pay about $92M from their pockets in 2021 to miners and Dev Fund recipients. (~$74M to miners, ~$5M to Zcash Foundation, ~$6M to ECC, and ~$7M to ZOMG). That $92M number is calculated from the following:
- There are 10.5M ZEC in circulation today. Zcash issuance is going to be 5.25M ZEC coins over the coming four years. That’s ~1.3M per year. Therefore, the rate of issuance (which other cybercoiners confusingly call “inflation” even though it is different from what economists call “inflation”) is about 12.5% annual for 2021. That means if you hold 1 ZEC throughout 2021, you’ll be paying about 12.5% of its value for these core support functions (primarily mining) in 2021.
- The price of ZEC is around $70 today, so this $92M is assuming it stays around there on average during 2021. If it rose to $700, then this would be $920 M that the ZEC holders are paying out for these core support functions! If it rose to $7000, then it would be $9.2 B that the ZEC holders will pay for these core support functions in 2021!
Okay, that’s it! That’s my starting point. And I think this is a very good thing! I think it is one of Zcash’s three strategic advantages [*].
ZEC-holders paying for core support functions (mining, software maintenance and security, innovation, marketing, regulatory and government relations, customer support, business development, education, etc.) out of their pockets makes Zcash more resistant to capture. If these functions were not funded by the ZEC holders themselves, then this would introduce a risk of someone coming along to fill that need and, in doing so, “capturing” Zcash, or gently guiding it toward their special interests and away from its original mission of empowering everyone with economic freedom.
[*] The three strategic advantages: 1. Self-funding (from the ZEC holders) of core support functions, 2. Governance and leadership are decentralized but not too diffuse and not too experimental, 3. Zcash culture supports evolving faster than Bitcoin but slower than Ethereum.