Is Starkware a threat to Zcash?

As Zcash looks to focus and solidify its position as the “privacy” layer of “Web 3”, I can’t help but wonder if the timing will work out or will it be outshined by other solutions such as Starkware.

Given Starkware’s history and relation to Zcash (Eli Ben Sasson being one of the founding engineers of the Zero Cash protocol), and the velocity in which they seem to be getting good PR and building a positive community following, is Starkware the elephant in the room we should all be worried about?

Curious to hear thoughts on this topic as we will only see more and more competitors, however, Starkware seems like a very real threat at the moment so I believe it’s worth discussing.


Privacy at higher layers (Polygon Zero, Starkware etc) vs privacy at layer 1. It feels complementary.


Starknet from Starkware will be an L2 on top of Ethereum. Their product approach will be different from Zcash. As more people adopt zkp and engineers learn the quirk of building on top of an opaque chain, I can only see them as good complement to what we’re all trying to achieve.

Also, I predict that sharing an L2 with Ethereum is the most viable solution for Zcash programmability in the mid-term.


some thoughts I had related to the topic of Zcash & Starkware👇


I think my number one concern is ZEC holders being left behind if there is any sort of integration within ETH. Timeline-wise, Starkware is leaps and bounds ahead of ETH scaling compared to Zcash. And anyone who has used ETH knows that scaling solutions have been needed for at least 3 years.

I noticed you used “will be” a couple times here. It seems as if they already are. It’s the velocity vs. acceleration that I’m worried about. Will ZEC have enough velocity when Halo arrives and all other goodies (ETH/Filecoin partnership) to be a viable competitor? Will ETH need multiple scaling solutions or just one? Why would they wait for ZEC?

Thank you for sharing that which I missed previously. Starkware currently has no incentive to work with Zcash, because they already use the best part of Zcash (snarks) for their scaling and privacy solution that they offer. You mentioned if Starkware should receive funding from ZEC. I’m not sure if that’s like Google paying Apple to be the default search engine for Safari, or the equivalent of funding our own demise.

Overall I’m concerned on behalf of Zcash holders that the coins they currently hold will be rendered useless in the future due to “token not needed”.


So are all transactions private on Starkware apps?

Starkware is doing some great stuff I don’t think they are a competitor to Zcash. Take a look at DyDx they are using Starkware and it’s amazing.

Will Zcash ever upgrade from SNARKs to STARKs?… this is what I would like to know.

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STARKs is not an upgrade to SNARKs. The two are so different: different protocols, different implementations and consequently different trade-offs.

Zcash should focus on recursive zkps to build a scalable money infrastructure.


Thanks…Interesting for some reason I thought they were an improvement in SNARKs. Good to know, makes sense each would have its own benefits and drawbacks.

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Source: GitHub - matter-labs/awesome-zero-knowledge-proofs: A curated list of awesome things related to learning Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKP).

Update: FYI Halo that is being deployed for NU5 get rid of the trusted setup.


So HALO is an improvement for SNARKs that allows for trustless set up correct?

I see STARKs are post quantum secure. Are these things Zcash is thinking about as well? Can we make SNARKs quantum secure ?

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I’m new here and trying to learn more about the tech, how funding works, and possible competitors, so thanks for explaining stuff to me.

If I understand correctly, Halo does not use zk-starks which do not need a trusted setup, zcash still uses zk-snarks but found a groundbreaking way to use zk-snarks without a trusted setup.

I’ve read zk-starks have some advantages over zk-snarks like not needing a trusted setup (no longer an issue for us), is post quantum secure, and relies on better/safer cryptographic assumptions?

Are we planning on using zk-starks in the future?

I read the ECC helped fund starkware, which has been doing the research on zk-starks. Would they not be considered competitors? Why is the ECC funding other projects that may take away from zcash? Or do people think this is not a potential issue?

If I’ve understood correctly what I’ve read, we also have some other projects utilizing zcash’s tech. Railgun is working on layer 1 zk-snarks on ethereum and has its own crypto RAIL. The Aztec project is working on layer 2 zk-zk-rollups on ethereum (the usual zk-rollup is not actually private but this one is). Aztec does not have their own crypto.

It seems most of the community is not worried about railgun or aztec taking away from zcash, but instead think it could help increase zcash adoption. Which is comforting, since I was worried when I found out about them that people might lose interest in zcash if there is zk-snark tech on ethereum. I don’t think the ECC has funded either railgun or aztec, they have just used zcash devs’ tech.

What are people’s thoughts on starkware? And are we planning on using zk-starks?



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From the prism of valuation it seems that StarkWare has already run far beyond Zcash. Their company has somewhere near 8 billion in valuation, they’ve got a lot of positive awareness, and their products are widely used across many ecosystems. “Threat” to Zcash doesn’t make sense as a mental framing. I also think it is intriguing that StarkWare doesn’t have a native token for its products, if i was reimagining Zcash I wish that it would have been done without a ZEC token either because sad as it is to say the chart of the ZEC value and the insurmountable inflation rate that ZEC holders have to continue to suffer for another 3-6 years is rendering it almost impossible to grow a sticky community of Zodlers.


I have the same concerns as you about starkware, aztec, and railgun/way. Less about aztec I guess because it is layer 2 on eth, but railway is apparently going to be layer 1, which worries me in terms of competition. And starkware uses zk-starks instead of zk-snarks which seems to have advantages such as being quantum secure. I am curious why ECC funded them and if we will be using their tech at some point.

@dontbeevil There is a project (railgun/way) that I recently learned about that is planning layer 1 privacy for ethereum though, if I understand it correctly.

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@noamchom That is unfortunate that our valuation is so lower, especially since we helped fund them. Have the ECC gone into details on why they funded them or what they hoped to gain from the partnership? I haven’t been able to find many details about it.

@lawzec no to which question haha, I asked a bunch, sorry

I am also curious if we are thinking about making zk-snarks post quantum secure, or at some point transitioning to zk-starks from starkware, ECC did help fund them, does that mean we will work with them too?

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Well… Starkware is a threat to zk-SNARKS, the tech behind Zcash. zk-STARKS has some advantages over zk-Snarks. zk-STARKS doesnt need a trusted setup, while zk-SNARKS did need, until today. HALO2 is a huge breakthrough.

Starkware has tons of tooling and a language called cairo.

In terms of a race for adoption of technology, I think Starkware is light years ahead.

Zcash is a coin not only a technology. These projects are not the same.

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zk-starks does seem to have some advantages, do you have any information on any possible ECC and starkware partnership?

@Autotunafish thanks for the thread link! It seems our current zcash setup is privacy quantum resistant which is great, but there do seem to be other advantages of zk-starks, such as being based on better/easier crypto assumptions than zk-snarks. I am interested in hopefully hearing more about why ECC funded starkware instead of developing zk-starks in house, and if there are plans for a partnership.