Case proposal: FIREFUND


#1

Hello everyone!

I'm new here, just recently learned about Zcash and now I would love to see what the community will say to a very concrete case for Zcash.

Please, let me introduce my initiative, and then I will ask if Zcash would solve our concrete problems.

I'm leading a team of activists working on a progressive crowdfunding platform for direct action and international solidarity. Our goal is to facilitate network-funding, starting out with classical crowdfunding models, with pledged microdonations, aiming to create a crowdfunding model suited to fund political action for progressive politics.

It's basically Kickstarter for activists - and it's called firefund.net.

We are using bitcoins. We need the blockchain for us to function properly - for high-risk international money-transfers to political groups fighting institutions who would go to great lengths to freeze, steal or just stop money transfers to particular political groups in their country.

Bitcoin is great for that, but it goes without saying, that anonymity is still a huge problem. A campaign could fund a totally legit political cause, but person A in a certain country might end up on a bad list or might be taken to court, because authorities will be able to prove, that person A transferred money for the 'terrorists'.

Person A will surely be able to transfer the bitcoins - but not in a way that cannot be proven in a courtroom.

That'll be my simple question. Is this out of the picture with Zcash?

The more advanced question is, if that has been taken care of, won't we still have the same basic problem, when person A wishes to spend the money? Person A will need to convert the Zcash into domestic currency - which requires a relatively big market for it in his or her country. If not, if person A needs to buy bitcoin which has a bigger international market, and then buy domestic currency to be able to buy the goods needed, won't all that anonymity quickly fly out the window?

I'm sorry for bad spelling or if I'm not being clear enough. I'm in a rush, but would love some feedback on this case.

Best wishes,

Karl from FIREFUND


#2

Welcome!

So to be clear, there are three stages of Zcash's life that we need to talk about in order to answer your questions.

  1. now: pre-release. Nobody can send any real money with Zcash right now. You can experiment with it, though, and send play-money that gets destroyed when we upgrade the testnet.
  2. later this year: We call it “Zcash Sprout”. https://z.cash/blog/sprout-roadmap.html It will be possible for the first time to send money to anyone else on the Internet, without exposing tracing information into the blockchain. But, it will be very primitive and limited in a lot of ways, starting with that we are not going to write a GUI wallet in time for Sprout! (Although I hope that someone else will!)
  3. next year: (Zcash Sapling? I just made that name up. Not sure if it will stick.) We and others will make tools like GUI wallets, integrate Zcash into services like exchanges and wallets, and so forth to make it easier to use.
  4. eventually: Ubiquity! (Zcash Oak? Forest?) Everyone uses Zcash for everything.

So to your questions:

First question, could people make and accept donations without it being traced back to them?

My answer: it might be possible to use Bitcoin safely for this right now, provided that you set up the right tools and processes and stuff. I'm sure there are some Bitcoin experts who would be happy to advise you on how to do that. Whether it would actually be safe would depend in part on the specific threat model of your users. For example, if someone in USA wants to donate to help a gay rights activist in Russia, then they might not mind if everyone on the Internet can figure out that they donated, but their recipient in Russia might be at greater risk if their enemies could detect that they were receiving money and who from. These are just guesses on my part. I don't know the details of how these things work on the ground.

Once Zcash launches (even at the Sprout level), it might be possible to use Zcash for part of the process instead of Bitcoin and thereby prevent adversaries from being able to trace the connections by looking at the blockchain. But it will still require care, training, tool support, etc., to protect people in practice, especially during the years that Zcash is immature.

Your second question is: once you do get a cryptocurrency into the hands of a recipient, how can they use it to pay for stuff they need, safely. This depends on a lot of questions about who else uses Zcash and what the particular needs are of the recipient. For example, if what the recipient needs to do is to pay for web hosting and a blogging platform so that they can continue blogging about gay rights in Russia, then the question would be whether the web hosting platform takes Bitcoin or Zcash. If it takes Bitcoin, your user could convert their Zcash into Bitcoin using https://Shapeshift.io (which I think would probably be safe for them, but again the details matter a lot for safety! So we have to delve into the details before we recommend that people actually try something like this).

Another way that people currently convert Bitcoin into local fiat currency in a more private way is to use https://localbitcoins.com/. There's also a new decentralized currency exchange coming out, named https://bitsquare.io/. I expect all of these things that I've mentioned (Shapeshift, Localbitcoins, and Bitsquare) to support Zcash eventually, but whether that's in the Sprout, Sapling, or Forest timeframe, I don't know.

Of course in the Forest timeframe, your recipient can just pay for everything they need — groceries, electricity, rent, etc. — with Zcash. :slight_smile:


#3

Founder of Bitsquare here...
We have already added Zcash to our supported coins. So would be great to see some ZCashers there!

Bitsquare is a Java Desktop application using a custom P2P network (similar to Bitcoins P2P network) over Tor (hidden services). But no Tor setup required, it is integratd in Bitsquare. It protects your privacy and you don't need to register.
Bitsquare never holds users funds. The funds are either in the users control of in a Multisig (the Bitcoin side).
The exchange process is similar like at LocalBitcoins but fully decentralized.

Bitsquare handles the transfer of the altcoin out of system, that makes it a no-brainer for us to add a new coin.
The security of the exchange is based on the same mechanisms which are used for Fiat exchanges.
2of3 Multisig, security deposit and arbitration system.

So if anyone wants to trade Zcash on Bitsquare he simple adds an account for Zcash which requires only the Zcash address and then creates an offer or takes an existing offer for buying or selling ZEC against BTC. The transfer of ZEC is done by the BTC buyer from his external ZEC wallet to the BTC sellers ZEC address.