Zcash: getting smothered

L1: scalable & private or FIN

Fact: Zcash := Bitcoin + slap on ZK cryptosystem that hides who2who and how much.

Privacy: The masses like convenience, can zcash offer both: yes. Apps & co. Yet by piggybacking bitcoin we add nothing but privacy on L1. Thats ok due bitcoin being risk averse (devs didnt even merge confidential transactions Not based on moon math), retaining the L1 edge.

 layers up: btc|liquid|lightning|apps <--> parallel tor & co
 The higher up the stack you trade security for privacy

Problem: Privacy is a spectrum/stack and bitcoin is becoming one, to the point that it is feature complete for 99% of usecases. Private financial transactions will happen up the stack for increased privacy needs (eg liquid, privacy enabled sidechains etc), but yet deep enough to inherent the bitcoin security. A worldwide competition for blockspace will be in place, for which the many L2 solutions are competing for pushing the tx beyond 100$ range - ossification happens. Analogues to the ‘gravitationl’ pressure, the economics will automatically funnel the tx into the correct stack height. Buying coffe? up you go. “Tokenizing your house” tx? down you go. The further down the less likely the tx sender is a natural person, but a protocol or coporation immune to the repercussions of a lack of ‘privacy’. (eg company x buys 30k of btc and disperses the risk to non-natural persons, contracts and key escrow)

This reduces the base to a few 1%, the high networth individual (the early adopter) that becomes a valuable target to the “the economy of law” for a criminal sting And is unwilling to live in a secured castle, nor does he want to play cat&mouse or form an interest group. Insurance products wont help unless able to resurrect the dead.

After all, is zcash just a smart 90s cypherpunk pipedream experiment of a guy that wants to buy coffee with bitcoin, but privately? The Zcash community now has one major task, To scale privately on L1, if unment will have nothing more to offer.


a new stand forming

Zcash a claim to digital private currency. digital: no doubt. The feature privacy an indisputable bitcoin edge that will be appreciated once information age kicks in and ppl become sensitive to choose what with whom. Within the privacy coins, protocol superiority. Whats more todo than make it scale on L1 and get word out? The inherent properties of money cause an either-or situation between bitcoin and zcash. An existential clash with the mothership without second place. How did i get here?

Lets go from currency to money, then from monies’ to the singular form. A currency exists because of a nation upholding it and has value as long as people trust to get as much for the imperial dollar as they have given for it in the transaction before. All nations went off reserves and the sole trust to be able to use it tomorrow bears its value, in fed slang “backed by all goods/services of the economy”.** If you dont like to use it, state will make you - power monopoly.
The result is inefficient and evident in Forex. You pay big fee for crossborder but more important: M goods and N currencies results in M*N price feeds to keep track of. You go other country and wonder if price of milk is high or low, and the math begins since no internalized price level in other currency. Money wants to flow free, and you dont want to remember n prices. First two properties: Money is singular and a unit of account to measure and exchange value.

The third property follows from the blog post: “zcash, the https of blockchains”, alias the ‘no transact through but store in’ blockchain.*** And pseudonyms on L1 bitcoin are weak, Zcash offers strong anons.

The money properties complete:

1. measure value (singular if efficient)
2. exchange value
3. store value

With money singular established, its either zcash or bitcoin. Locality for tech does not matter. Bitcon is digital scarcity, a human introduced constant, made private by Zcash. But: It is 2020, and no flippening to the new denominator BTC/ZEC in sight, no indicators for evidence of any of the three money properties zcash claims by name. There is no powerlaw, not even second place. It daunts me, a bagholder sitting on the wrong horse. …until i realized a miss: the social fabric.

From global singular and social plurality: Globalization is fading nations, goods and services flow borderless. The living standard averages and the physical body is (soon) assured of - the singular; The plural: Human tribalistic nature evident in the social networks. Existence becomes publicity & wikiedit, the human character becomes colorful personas. The multitude of we-and-they formalism’ as catalyst to produce identity. Lifeless NFTs until ‘personality’ makes them turing-shirt wearing Alans. Citizens turn digital tribes. Free market replacing government services - tech the enabler and digital plural;

A dream: when boards, forums or any social type fertilizes with ‘blockchain’ to bring an organisational, rights carrying and privacy preserving structure to the digital realm - the emergence of the dao age. If money properties continue to not hold, a vibrant and growing community might uphold Zcash as way of life.

** Front page | U.S. Department of the Treasury
*** Zcash, the HTTPS of Blockchains
**** trivia: stablecoins are a temporary, they will fade with their nations


zcash in its current form wont survive. it gets smothered between the pow trust-anchor bitcoin and the decentralized economy platform ethereum. Cash is not a base layer, it is meant to live on a feature sufficient base layer making it omnipresent. like crypto: foster integrations and existing payment rails rather than roll own apps.

the scarcity of bitcoin will lead people to rethink consumerism and store the income in a sound wealth preserving manner, the actual green switch bitcoin has up the sleeve to stop the cannibalistic nature of capitalism digging the dirt out them ditches.

Zcash aims for digital private cash. To reiterate legacy money attributes (from above): store, measure, exchange value;

  • store: no more, btc does that; wrap it.
  • measure: yes due simplicity else combinatoric explosion of how much the milk costs. is it one cow or two goats today? while cumbersome in the barter age, we today have digital AMMs that swap A for B in one click, with (in the future) a base exchange rate denoted in btc or eth.
    The eth/btc pairs significance will indicate if ppl rather keep safe in the golden see or be active participating in the internet economy on smart contract platforms.
  • exchange feature: as a characteristic of money fades. the recent rise of nfts in their current 'art form will show that everyting gaining ppls attention is money. is it the clout of a vividly flasing nft on your wall or a private key to unlock the portal into another social plane on decentraland, the excitement of whats to come is thrilling.

But this eats away on the importance of money per se, being generalized into the pluralistic multiverse of exchangeable things: scarcity anchored in btc, and exchanged on smart-contract chains mainly eth.

“in the age of surveillance, privacy is key” - is zcashs prominent characteristic. With the base layers staying transparent for accountability, non-repudiation… the private is necessary in a broader sense for games to function. you dont play poker with open cards.
This embeds private value exchange into a larger challenge of private onchain activities. boneh presumes ‘dont build your own chain but wrap the code, state & in/output in hiding commitments’.* And cash is a subset of that hiding cloud that gets better the bigger.

the broad implications:

.* Dan Boneh: Blockchain Primitives: Cryptography and Consensus - YouTube
.** Zeth & Nightfall: The differences in approach | by Sara Feenan | clearmatics | Medium


I think zcash is binary long tail bet dependent on the global choice to have privacy or not. A decentralized marketplace does not have a sole platform. The ethereum future is overstated. The space is still extremely young, and Zcash is still young and flexible. I can imagine a decade or two where cryptospace returns to irrelevance. I enjoyed your thoughts.

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Incentivize the token. ZEC holders earn rewards by holding the token from a portion of the transactions on the DeFi network. This would probably mean that ZEC moves to PoS, but IIRC the team wasn’t opposed to that idea.