Zcash Functional UX for Private Storage and Payments

Happy New Year @joshs! All these ideas are really exciting and refreshing!

Z-Vault: I think it’s very important.

while ago, when it came to the Ledger Support grant for Ywallet I posted this warning about the importance of securing the entrance of the grantee through the Ledger Walled Garden gates. Also flagged this as a big issue (as it ended up being), and also proposed a (much more idealist and idilic) idea of an open HW wallet for ZEC that’s not under Ledger or Trezor’s domain.

I propose that ZF and ZCG should find and foster Open Hardware and open source software hardware wallets that decentralize and offer a free (as in freedom) alternative to hardware wallets.

Why secure self-custody is so important?

  • it’s the only was crypto users can be more certain being capable of using and accessing their funds how they want and when they want.
  • Paper wallets, iron wallets, time capsules, etc have one weakness in common: they can be breached easily by those who can gain access to them.

Why supporting shielded custodial services is also very important?

  • When moving to a custodian service, there will be information leaking. Shielded support is the only way custody can be delegated minimizing info leaks.
  • Having your funds in custody at home makes you sovereign, but also can put you in danger. E.g: receiving a package from a HW manufacturer at home seems leaks the fact that you hold crypto assets and where to find you.
  • Sovereign custody sounds cool, but it’s not suitable for every user.
  • Global Real-Estate high prices are making people share households with people which can’t be trusted with one’s earnings, savings and investments.
  • Or worse, many places where crypto would be most suitable for have living conditions that are far from ideal. Living conditions offer little to no privacy: individuals share rooms, etc. Can you have sovereign custody if you can’t be sure someone isn’t sleeping in your bed while you are out?
  • There could be situations where you wouldn’t want to have sole and sovereign custody of funds an need to have a secure way to share funds or have an easy way to have others inherit your funds.
  • Or the opposite, you want to have secure custody of funds and yet be able to avoid close members of your household accessing them because of many reasons.

Additional thoughts, reflections and ideas in support of making this Functional UX proposal a success


“Build it and they’ll come” did not appear to work as much for Zcash.

New paradigm: Build it and they’ll come in such a way you can go everywhere and have the friends made along the way come over, as well as strangers walking in.

Trolls aside, there is a lot of respect for ZEC in the crypto space. The interest in its technology is such, that given the perceived impossibility of bringing ZEC over, people would just find ways to have its zero-knowledge tech where they needed it.

We also lived our own “Henry Ford dilemma”: If I had asked what people wanted they would have told me faster MPC ceremonies (instead of faster horses), and we built technology that will eventually make Zkp-MPC ceremonies a thing of the past.

Yet, after all that effort (shared and made by developers and Zodlers) “they didn’t come” as much as we would have liked.

The idea that Josh is bringing up is huge! It will require a lot of effort, Zcash ecosystem and development community will have to grow it capacity, headcount and throughput.

Maybe it’s time to think of the cost of coming over to Zcash, and how to make that less of a problem so that we can be more competitive

I have the impression that Zcash sometimes feels as a wedding in the Amalfi Coast. Oh, those magical moments! Aren’t they a dream? wouldn’t it be amazing to be part of something like that? And yet, if by any chance you get an invitation (and you are not rich), you’ll open up your household budget excel spreadsheet and start sweating! And after a reality check, you’d start thinking of elegant ways to excuse yourself of such an economic burden of an event.

Brainstorming dump

Lowering the cost for Users to come ever to Zcash

If we want to make ZEC be in the hands of everyone, we will have to open pathways work in both directions, allowing ZEC to flow in and out and also making an ecosystem where people who come by, build with the tools they already know, and if they don’t know any, those tools need to be useful somewhere else.

The balance of choosing ZEC over other platforms should be net positive. Even if that person ends up leaving. That will lower the perceived risk of diving into Zcash.

For developers:
“if I choose to work in the Zcash Ecosystem, and it happens that I don’t end up liking it, I would have learned something useful that is valuable in general”.

For users:
If I chose ZEC as my first crypto, the things I learned there would serve me well even if I decided to move on to other coins.

Possible ways to connect ZEC to the rest of the world:

  • maintain the current CEX support and consider building towards expanding its shielded outreach.
  • Building Bridges: Bridge ZEC to other ecosystems so that it’s not necessary to sell your ZEC. the ZAVAX bridge is an excellent example of this.
  • Go an extra mile: Build ZEC subnets on the other side of the bridges
  • Making ZEC modular and ubiquitous like Ian has proposed
  • Decentralized Exchange support to lower the impact of CEX policies on the ZEC ecosystem.

Lowering the Cost of coming over to Zcash for Developers

Mindset shift: ZEC is super special in terms of privacy. That doesn’t mean it needs its own special everything. Study what others have done and do what worked best for those, measure and iterate. If it actually is the case that it needs that special something, let’s make it so that others don’t have to care unless they want to.

Ideas to lower this cost:

  • Improve developer experience with comprehensive, well structured documentation and Developer Relations
  • change “definition of done” for our tooling: it’s not done until someone “from outside” can read the instructions and use it without pinging the developers directly.
  • Allow ourselves to “Stand in the shoulders of (other) giants”.
    • Zcash has been recognized for advancing the cryptography space decades in a matter of months. In that sense many other platforms have used and benefited from our breakthroughs. Let ourselves do the same with those aspects that others have excelled at and we haven’t.
    • Only innovate on what is completely new has never been done before. For all the rest, prioritize general purpose tools and languages that have a wider audience
    • Reduce the amount of “wheel re-invention” by adopting “industry standards” or “industry conventions” even though it needs more work upfront from us because what’s used by many does not suit or very own requirements.

Potential Risks of the OP’s proposal

  • Engineering risk: This proposal could be to overly ambitious for the available resources and suffer of a Big Bang approach problem.
  • Political/sand table risk: the proposal appears to require buy-in from every single actor of the current ecosystem and seems “too holistic” with little wiggle room for discrepancies.
  • Centralization Risk: The proposal might increase the perception of Zcash being “too centralized”.
  • Bikeshedding risk: If not structured properly, it could require too much “background/backend” work until it makes real positive impact for users
  • Perception of High Risk: It may be perceived as “the last dance” or “all in” kind of move.
  • Perception of High Risk: The proposal has many moving parts and actors. Many of this actores are yet to be known.
  • Time To Market: The proposal TTM appears to be too far ahead as a whole and could be outperformed by competitors.

Note for people not familiarized with Software Engineering:

There are no risk-free projects. Risk Analysis is a discipline within project management. There are many ways the mentioned risks can be mitigated. Risks are not be feared neither to be hidden under the rug. It’s important to identify them as early as possible and work towards minimizing the probabilities of them occurring. Proper risk analysis and mitigation are sometimes seen as things that foster “detractors” and “kills inspiration”, but in reality it is an investment in maximizing the probability of success by lowering the chances of failure.


Zcash needs to redefine itself and find its place in the present and the future.
It’s really good to be discussing a paths forward!