Hey David, Thank you for your genuine question on strategy, an important piece that needs to be revisited as Zcash continues building onward.
To chart a viable strategy for the future of Zcash, let’s look at where we are today. I would start with my personal experience watching the bootstrapping of the Zcash network from the sidelines in 2016-2018 until the advent of Sapling where I finally was able to experience sending and receiving shielded Zcash on my Android via Guarda Shielded Wallet and the ZecWallet Node companion app. ZEC was trading around where it is today and I started following the community closely, attending local Zcash meetups and learning as much as possible about the protocol. At first, I was skeptical of the self-funding model. but as time passed, it became evident that Zcash was the only coin with a steady, funded development model since its inception. All kudos to @zooko and his team at ECC, for not only keeping top-notch development activity but also focusing on the privacy aspects and narrative missing in our industry.
Next, let’s learn from talking to new users, long-term investors, and whales, and ask them why are they holding ZEC, or why they dump it all. what are their expectations? Are their expectations in line with the reality of Zcash’s development status and timelines? Revisit @balajis, Vitalik, Naval Ravikant, and early Zcash founding scientists’ visions for Zcash, are we anywhere near the delivery of their ideas? Or are we stuck in an innovation loop with every shielded pool upgrade and failing to reach the early majority?
Then learn how did other coins enter the Top 10, starting from 2013(the first bull run that hit mainstream news) What coins made it to the Top and How? And in 2017, and ultimately 2020-2021.
Can we learn anything from the coins making it to the Top 10? Who got pushed down? Who stuck? Why? Who’s knocking to get in the Top 10 today? What are their active initiatives? These questions are necessary to ask to navigate the uncharted territories for shielded money adoption with Zcash.
Now, to get to your stated goals of 100,000 downloads, Zcash would have to enter the Early Majority phase of adoption, pictured in the Zcash Chasm chart below that I was able to draw up today(based on Geoffrey A. Moore’s model for market dynamics faced by innovative products). Wallet apps that have achieved 100k+ downloads have taken the path with a multi-coin, simplified wallet experience with a single seed to make self-custody easy and manageable and easy credit card/banking purchase options for crypto. Some wallets like Metamask have integrated swaps, while other multi-coin wallets Edge and Trust Wallet have integrated Thorchain swaps and savers vaults, making it easy for anyone to swap coins & store them in a transparent and decentralized lending facility. These wallets with high adoption, all support BTC with the highest adoption rate for new entrants to cryptocurrencies.
One assumption could be, let’s make all the multi-coin wallets add Zcash support and that should surely drive up ZEC adoption?.. I don’t think so, as we’ve seen in the past 2 years, ZEC has been unable to make its mark in the mainstream market, which is needed for early investors and whales to start scooping up the coins for an upcoming use-case with massive potential and adding a premium to the ZEC price. Price after all is the best form of marketing in crypto. We did have run-ups in price with the rest of the crypto ecosystem and NU5 trustless setup/Snowden involvement news, getting to 1:1 with XMR, only to fall again. ZEC trading at or near the cost of mining says that the market does not value any innovations delivered to date by the Zcash ecosystem.
Nighthawk’s strategy is to deliver the best Zcash experience for entrants to the shielded cryptocurrency ecosystem, by building a strong foundation for our native wallets apps that allow us to deliver a super-app experience.
“The secret to a super app’s success is its ability to use existing user traffic and distribution (in WeChat’s case, the flywheel started with messaging) to drive lead generation and traffic to its partners. The more you can do on the app — with as little friction as possible — the stronger the flywheel.”
This approach will make it easier to onboard new users quickly to take self-custody off exchanges and into their hands, including educating the user about ZEC and its simplicity, designing intuitive user actions, and making shielded-by-default mandatory instead of forcing the user to decide on their Zcash settings. This objective will include providing feedback to the core developers of Zcash, to fill the gaps in hardening the core protocol & libraries and delivering a better end-user experience, something our team has diligently focussed on over the past years. And, to be at the forefront of ZSAs, the largest feature update Zcash has seen and which has the potential to bring in massive adoption to Zcash when it goes live. Our lightwalletd platform engineering & scaling efforts and planned updates to ZcashBlockExplorer.com to support Shielded Assets are part of this strategy.
For Nighthawk Wallet, it will also be partnering with cross-chain communities that we have already initiated with Flexa and Thorchain ecosystems(and a couple more partners on the way). There is light at the end of the tunnel.
My team is uniquely positioned, has taken the right initiatives, and has all the support it needs both from within the Zcash developer ecosystem and external communities that see the potential in ZEC and we have the zest to contribute as we have done for the past 4 years.
– Q & A –
I wonder why Warp Sync is not used or apparently not even desired by other wallet devs? It works so well.
We performed preliminary integration tasks and tried building a proof-of-concept with a forked version of the Zcash SDK. Our developer’s estimates turned out to be way higher than we expected as to the costs to maintain forked versions of the iOS and Android SDKs, adding to the woes of being behind on security updates from upstream. Soon, the NU5 specifications were released and we decided to ensure our user’s wallets were compatible with the network upgrade and adopt a syncing algorithm that works with Orchard pool, while Warp Sync worked for Sapling. The NU5 going live saw the majority of wallets break, Nighthawk Wallet worked seamlessly and also included transactions in the first few blocks after the network upgrade went live. This was made possible by our team members working with ECC developers via the LCWG bi-weekly meetings.
What are the most popular wallets in crypto? Do any of them have 100,000 downloads? What are they doing that we could learn from?
My favorite wallets are Bitcoin.com, Pera Wallet, Phantom, Status, Core App – all making the experience for their core platform/coin to be the flying wheel of utility. Their teams work closely with the core developers and actively participate in their respective protocol improvement documents and ideas.
How can any Zcash wallet, even if it works great, reach beyond the current base of people who know about Zcash into the broader (and much larger) market?
By providing the best experience of Zcash’s unique value proposition - shielded money at rest and integrating use-cases to third-party apps, shielded assets, and services.
Additional ideas for Zcash to reach its potential: