Zcash or ZEC - What are we?

I believe Zcash is experiencing an identity crisis that needs urgent attention. Unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum, where identities are clear (BTC is Bitcoin and Bitcoin is BTC. ETH is Ethereum’s gas and Ethereum’s gas is ETH), Zcash’s terminology is confusing. Here’s an example from the Zcash website:


People use these terms interchangeably all the time — and that’s OK, no biggie — but technically, Zcash is the protocol and ZEC is the coin. The Zcash protocol is a set of rules that govern the Zcash blockchain network, a system of connected devices all over the world, working together to validate transactions and maintain the Zcash ledger. Within that system, ZEC (pronounced zek) is the monetary unit, or coin. You can send ZEC to a friend, use it to purchase something, or exchange it for some other kind of money. Zcash monetary policy creates a currency supply of 21 million ZEC. If a person holds 5 units of Zcash, then they hold 5 ZEC.

This explanation is confusing. If someone holds 5 units of Zcash, do they hold 5 units of the protocol or 5 coins? Is ZEC supposed to serve a purpose beyond just being the coin, if so, what purpose does it serve? If not, why are we separating the two? This ambiguity affects understanding and perception, potentially deterring new users and investors. I’ve been a Zcasher since early 2022 and I’m still trying to figure it out. Are we Bitcoin 2.0? Are we a private version of Ethereum? Are we something in between?

A clear and consistent identity is crucial for user understanding, market perception, and brand strength. The current mixed terminology undermines these aspects, leading to reduced trust and hindered adoption. Addressing this issue is essential for the long-term success of Zcash.

In addition to the community, I also believe this is the root cause for the reason behind why ECC leadership and ZF leadership are not aligned.

This has haunted me since I discovered that there’s a difference, maybe this is why ECC is doubling down on Zashi because they want the centre of attention to be ZEC (and by default Zcash will inherit what ZEC becomes BTC 2.0). I’m genuinely looking for answers, but the saddest part about this all is that even Zcash doesn’t know what Zcash.


Too complicated don’t you think?

What if it were ztc, zsc or zch and then you couldn’t actually say “zek” all the time? Would that make a difference?

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I think you solved it bro


Nope. Think in Bitcoin terms and then go from there:

  • I got half a Bitcoin
  • Finally I got one full Bitcoin
  • How many Bitcoins do you want for it?
  • Owning one tenth of a Bitcoin will make you a millionaire one day.

We’ve all heard these sound bites and they make sense and have become part of the crypto culture and lingo.

Now replace “Bitcoin” with “Zcash” and tell me how it sounds.

oic. It’s like 1 goose and 5 geese. But with 1 or 5 moose, it’s just moose.

Bitcoin is both a protocol and a coin.
Zcash is both a protocol and a coin.

BTC is a financial ticker that refers to Bitcoin as a coin, the other is XBT (used by BitMEX for example)
ZEC is a financial ticker that refers to Zcash as a coin.

Owning 100x Tesla == 100x TSLA
Owning 100x Bitcoin == 100x BTC or 100x XBT
Owning 100x Zcash == 100x ZEC


This is exactly how I understood it, but according to the Zcash website we’re wrong.

I know about this, on the z.cash site. Quazi academical nonsense imo.

The bitcoin itself has always been the protocol and also the coin. The same applies to Litecoin. The same should apply to Zcash. Monero is the same, when people refer to Monero, they mean both the protocol and the coin.

It’s just people often refer to the coin with the financial ticker, which is shorter.

BTW: we also say: “buy some zcash” and it’s perfectly fine and the same as “buy some ZEC”

Maybe some people struggle with it, because unlike Bitcoin and Litecoin, Zcash and Monero don’t have a plural form.


Flip side to that corn, they should all be just like us.

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I think they created this distinction deliberately because they saw the project heading in a different direction (initially was the next Bitcoin, but then started evolving with ZSAs and maybe DeFi and all the other “financial services”, and for that the Bitcoin framework is not suitable, you need something like Ethereum and Eth - but Eth aced it with that term GAS :fuelpump: and Bitcoin aced it with that term COIN :coin:).

Zcash needs to find a way to bring forward and ace the term CASH

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Ethereum == protocol
Ether == coin
ETH == ticker of Ether

You could say: “buy Bitcoin, Ether, Zcash”
Also, you could say: “buy BTC, ETH, ZEC”

you could never really say “buy Ethereum” (even thought it’s often said, but it’s clear it’s incorrect)

That’s how I see it.

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Sweet, Short and simple. It helps even more when they know what they are, a platform for other to build on (smart contracts, dapps, DeFi, Stablecoins, minting and swapping and all that other stuff that involves clicking etc).

Bitcoin again, sweet, short and simple. Buy. Hold. Increase value. Sell for profit (or Hold longer for more profit).

I really don’t know what we are or what we’re trying to be :roll_eyes:

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Let’s see what the whitepaper says.

The production Zcash network, which supports the ZEC token, is called Mainnet.

The whitepaper considers ZEC as “one of the tokens” on Zcash network, not even calling it a coin.


All of the BIPs referenced below should be interpreted by replacing “BTC”, or “bitcoin” used as a currency unit, with “ZEC”; and “satoshi” with “zatoshi”.

So whitepaper says we shouldn’t use Zcash as the currency unit.

This could also be reframed, redefined later, we could discuss this further, it’s not something set in stone.

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Yes, the Ethereum’s way is the best, clear, concise, everyone knows what’s the protocol, the currency unit, also the ticker.

Zcash should be imo the Bitcoin 2.0: private SoV + MoE (the most private money and store of value in the world)

Zcash is the successor of Bitcoin.

The swiss bank account in anyone’s pocket (or brain – just need the seed).


I think ECC and a lot of the community agree with you on this, that’s why they’re doubling down on Zashi, to reinforce ZEC as main driver of the Zcash narrative.

I originally bought into Zcash because of this idea. I still see it that way (ultimately Bitcoin’s replacement). That’s why I’d hate for it to become a platform like Ethereum or Solana with DeFi and all that stuff. Jack of all trades, Master of nothing.


i think easiest would be to think

dollar = USD = $
Zcash = ZEC = ᙇ

even if not technically correct its the easiest framework for everyone to think maybe?


This will be come clearer with the addition of ZSAs.

After ZSAs become available in a network upgrade, Zcash, the protocol, will support multiple assets. ZEC is the native asset of the chain, in which fees and block rewards are denominated.


To me, Zcash is both the protocol and the coin. ZEC is the ticker exchanges use.

Just like Tesla is a car and a company, and TSLA is the stock ticker.


So like a scaled down and private version of Ethereum?

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