ZEC is Stale

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electric Coin Company. I’m putting this out in the hopes of continuing constructive discourse.

ZEC is stale. You can agree or disagree and in this open-source project and ecosystem we should all feel free and feel safe to be able to share our thoughts. Now, having said that, let me use an analogy - baseball! Hopefully everyone has seen or maybe even played a baseball or softball game at some point in their life. Maybe you even saw the movie “Field of Dreams”. “If you build it, they will come” sounds like the refrain I’ve heard in the Zcash ecosystem over the last two years. Unfortunately, we built it, but no one came.

Back to the baseball analogy.

Back in 2016, some folks got together and built a brand new, never-before-seen type of baseball stadium. It was a state-of-the-art facility and provided something that wasn’t available anywhere else. The game itself was still baseball, but the offerings that this stadium added made it special. Over the years, two teams played a majority of the games at this stadium. The crowds were decent, but the place was never sold out. Every couple of games, a few new faces would show up, buy a ticket, maybe some food, but they wouldn’t come back again. Over the years, the stadium continued to invest in itself, adding cool new features like a big LED screen, real-time game statistics, the best food and drinks in the area. But the same problems persisted, aside from those two teams, a few other teams might come to play a few games and a few new faces would show up, but overall, the same crowd was there for every game and the stadium never quite sold out.

What happened? Well, for one, the stadium was out in the middle of nowhere, with no decent public transportation options available. In addition, the people that came to the games got tired of seeing the same thing over and over and ticket sales started to drop. This put pressure on the teams to cut back their spending and the problem only got worse. What was missing? Was it the stadium? The teams? The gameplay? Something else? Maybe a little bit of everything.

I feel like Zcash is this stadium. We’re at a point where the discussions in this forum and some of the Zcon conversation is about Zcash’s identity. What is it? What do we want it to be? If we can’t figure out what the product is, how will we ever figure out how to effectively market it. It feels like a tipping point is quickly approaching. ZK tech was the hot thing, but now there are other options besides Zcash. What makes us unique? What makes us interesting beyond the cypher punk crowd? What makes someone on the outside want to pay for a ticket to the game? And even more importantly, what are we doing to make sure they want to keep coming back and spending more of their money on our game at our stadium?

Maybe it’s time to reinvent the stadium, with a fresh overlay. Take a pause on trying to make the best technological features and focus on the simple basics things, a clean and straightforward product and then market it to solve a problem. Maybe that problem is in a specific country only or a specific demographic only. That’s ok… focus on that one area and dominate that market… then rinse and repeat. We built it, they stopped coming… building it again the same way and expecting different results isn’t a strategy for success.


Absolutely. :100:

Zcash has many problems and I’ll try to summarize what I think the main ones are:

  1. Dev Fund (Mis-)Management: The Dev Fund appears to be susceptible to exploitation, with some grant recipients offering questionable value for the magnitude of funding they receive. Zcash Media is a prime case in point; the discrepancy between the grant size received and the subsequent ROI is simply disconcerting.

  2. Organizational Structure: Organizations purportedly created to bolster the project, such as the Zcash Foundation and the ECC, present themselves as nonprofit entities. However, their actions mirror those of commercial organizations, casting doubt on their authenticity. It’s troubling to see such ostensibly mission-driven entities bear an uncanny resemblance to commercial structures.

  3. Connection to Least Authority and Team Wilcox: This issue, although often brushed under the carpet, raises significant concerns. Zooko Wilcox’s apparent desire to assume a less prominent role seems inconsistent with the reality. His, and his family members’, continued benefits and influence over the project are perplexing.

  4. Talent Attrition: Zcash appears to be doing little to retain its talent pool, a crucial factor for any crypto project’s success. Several engineers have transitioned to other projects, such as Worldcoin, BlueSky, Starkware, etc., which arguably indicates a worrying trend of intellectual exodus from the project.

  5. Community Engagement: The crypto space thrives on vibrant, dynamic communities. Unfortunately, Zcash seems to be wanting in this regard. Discussions across various platforms are often dominated by individuals either severely disadvantaged by their investments, overly-optimistic enthusiasts with limited following, or those who consider Zcash a crypto pariah.

Let’s move onto the illustrative segment of my discourse, where I juxtapose Zcash against what I perceive to be its most direct rival:




And how about StockTwits?

Indeed, it’s notable that despite the significant disparity in ROI between Litecoin and Zcash, the latter often finds itself overlooked by the crypto community. In fact, when Zcash does manage to grace someone’s watchlist, it often seems more as a harbinger of a potential shorting opportunity, rather than an attractive long-term investment. This ambivalence towards Zcash, in the face of Litecoin’s success, speaks volumes about the crypto community’s perception and faith in Zcash’s future prospects.

This critique isn’t designed to tear down Zcash but to shine a light on the issues clouding its potential. Let’s face it, the brand is tired, it’s tarnished, it’s barely hanging on. That’s why I urge you to consider this: a complete, no-holds-barred rebrand. Not just a name change, but a full reimagining of what Zcash can be. Remember, a brand is more than just a name; it’s the project’s face, soul, and reputation. So let’s collectively discard the weight of our tarnished past. Through a bold and complete rebrand, let’s chart a vibrant, fresh path for Zcash’s future.


“… Take a pause on trying to make the best technological features and focus on the simple basics things, a clean and straightforward product and then market it to solve a problem. Maybe that problem is in a specific country only or a specific demographic only. That’s ok… focus on that one area and dominate that market… then rinse and repeat…”


Beautifully articulated and spot on.


@nick I can’t stress enough how much I agree with your post. Your baseball analogy perfectly puts into words exactly how I feel about Zcash and the problems we’re facing. It’s a breath of fresh air to hear this from a leader within ECC (even though it’s not an official ECC position). Many others have raised similar things over the years but the message was never heard and strategy never shifted. This is a massive boost to my optimism about Zcash, thank you!


Glad to see that there are at least two of us who understand the paradox of The Field of Dreams aphorism :slight_smile:


Absolutely agree they are building a stadium. The materials are great, they have talented contractors, and so forth. But, it is in the middle of nowhere.

First and foremost, no one is listening to the customers if ZEC is supposed to be money:

  1. people work for wages. they need a stable store of wealth over very short time frames. They can’t handle the volatility. not even ecc hard core believers will accept and hold zec as a medium of exchange. They believe they need more outlets inside the stadium or different features to drive the price higher; but it’s not what’s available inside the stadium that is the problem. it’s the stadiums location. the location is unstable and always will be. So, no matter how high or low in price zec goes, it will always be unstable and volatile. Therefore, it will never be widely accepted as money for day to day transactions.

  2. retailers. people buy goods from stores. vendors are very clear. they want stability. AMP work also proved this out. They had to build a mechanism to let people pay in crypto. but the retailers get the local currency. so you pay in crypto and they get usd for example.

  3. Investors - people use money to save and invest. To be an investment it needs to have yield or the expectation of a profit. There is no mechanism current to enable investors to see this as an investment. I view it as an out of the money option to become an investment some day. Out of the money options have a high chance of expiring worthless. So I’m hopeful the community will see the light and strive to create real economic value within the ZEC ecosystem.

To me the stadium is ZEC. To continue building out the stadium when people arnt showing up to the game should lead one to reconsider the purpose and project funding. To try and fund more wallets, retail access or anything that is not related to “moving the stadium” to stablecoins and fixing the stadium takes valuable resources and drives the price of zec lower. Ironically spending too much money on marketing will drive the price lower not higher because there is a funding issue. People buying ZEC and who are the ones funding the development need to see it’s on the right path.

At its most basic core, money represents the exchange of value between two people. Does ZEC achieve this purpose? To me the people who work for money and the people who sell goods and services have said no. That doesn’t mean there are no people who will accept it (more on that below as digital collectible).

The purpose to me should be to make privacy widely available to all (stable money as a stablecoin) and with a gas mechanism, ZEC could be an investment in a transaction base mechanism. Otherwise it looks a little bit like a fractional ownership interest in a piece of art or collectible: a digital “beanie baby”. who knows why people choose beanie baby’s, the mona lisa, baseball cards or tulips over the many other types similar collectibles…but the value people assign to them can be confused as money until they don’t…To call ZEC money or currency (in the way most people think about money) sounds like a dangerous combination of Hubris and Hypocracy: Many in the community are demanding certain attitudes and behaviors from other people that they themselves don’t even follow. ZEC will either evolve into an investment (similar to etherurm for money) and if it does not, I fear for its survival. Being what otherwise looks like a fancy digital collectible seems like a risky strategy; especially if the marketing strategy is to call it money. Now, there is some reason for optimism: stablecoins, and ZSAs are on the roadmap and the privacy tech is great.


Fenway Park - 1912: Its old, has limited capacity, transportation and parking challenges The stadium was build for baseball. The red soxs fans are broad base, they have baseball fans across the world, however the stadium owners are not targeting every baseball fan in the world for box seats or general ticket sales. The owners run very targeted marketing campaigns, build targeted partnerships with different messaging to drive sales
Over the life of the stadium it has had many owners an investors within different business cycles. Baseball management has a budget to field a competitive team. Do you invest most of the team funds into one or two star players, spread it across more players, invest it in farm team players. Does team management even matter for ticket sales?
More important, the stadium diversified into music concerts, trade show’s, fairs and other products for stadium overall revenue not to be depended just on baseball.
Zec is a baseball team, competing with a lot of world class teams. Zec and Red Soxs are not separated from the economy they operate within. Players are going to come a go, but the excitement of doing anything in Fenway keeps fans coming.

Go take someone to Fenway Park, explain some stadium stories that have taking place, you might make someone a baseball fan.

zec @ 29 usd is a great time to buy!

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Players are going to come a go, but the excitement of doing anything in Fenway keeps fans coming.

That is where the messaging aspect keeps people coming back. That’s why I think it makes sense to focus on the “Memo” field for applicable uses of the coin (in its current implementation). Zecpages.com and free2z.com are doing good things here.

Hopefully ZSAs unlock more potential (collateralized loans, asset swaps, etc) to give new people a reason to use it. Vendor support is also necessary, but I think less so physical (IRL), but more online implementations BTCPayServer Zcash Integration - YouTube.

E.g. this could be:

  • A Shopify plugin
  • An API shared on RapidAPI
  • A Wordpress, WooCommerce, Squarespace plugin

By the way, the topic of baseball team names got me thinking of something:

  • Washington Senators => Minnesota Twins
  • Montreal Expos => Washington Nationals
  • New York Highlanders => New York Yankees



Hopefully ZSAs unlock more potential (collateralized loans, asset swaps, etc) to give new people a reason to use it.

That’s the point I was trying to make with my analogy. Something is being built without a clear understanding of who is willing to use it. Think about any other startup… you wouldn’t just commit a bunch of resources to build the fully functional product without having user research and/or initial support from a group of target customers. I think this is one area where Zcash has struggled - the cart before the horse. I hope ZSAs do unlock more potential, but I have to critically question where those users will come from. It’s basically a hedge bet rather than a calculated bet based on real-world information or a base user level of commitment.


We built this. Try it at ZecMart.


Interesting. I see you price the products in USD. why? if you allow people to pay in ZEC how long do to hold ZEC before converting into something else?

Just to clarify, I’m part of the ZGo team, the Zcash plugin for WooCommerce.

ZecMart is run by another community member, using the plugin to allow for ZEC payments.

We created the plugin to operate like payment rails, so when the store hands over the payment, they can’t tell if it’s ZGo, Paypal, or any other payment service, it works just the same. Our plugin takes care of the conversion to ZEC.

The reason we set up ZGo to use fiat prices is that most mainstream businesses that may have an interest in crypto payments will also want to accept traditional electronic payments. It would be too much to ask a business to cut out 90% of its normie clients to cater only to the 10% that may want to spend crypto. That, plus the trouble of having to re-price all your items to make sure you’re covering your costs as crypto prices ebb and flow.

For the foreseeable future, any business that wants to use crypto will have to live in both worlds, ZEC and traditional payment processors. What we can work on as a community is to try to increase the diversity of vendors, so when someone sells a t-shirt for ZEC, they can buy their groceries with that ZEC instead of having to off-ramp immediately. The higher the number of times a zat exchanges hands before being swapped for fiat, the healthier the community will be, and the more value the ZEC token will accrue, IMO.


Understand the goal. but what are people actually doing? Are retailers holding the crypto? AMP protocol seems like the best solution for this type of use case. They are building essentially the same product with a lot more functionality. Wouldn’t integrating AMP into retail be cheaper? if not why? Do you charge transaction fees? if so, how much?

I happen to agree 100% fiat currency is here for a long long time. This is why i’m so convinced a USDz is so important. If you want to keep someone in the zcash ecosystem they need to be able to use stablecoins and it’s only natural if they want zcash they will want the Zstablecoin.

I happen to disagree proposing a l retailer to hold and spend in ZEC is a good thing for them. and trying to force someone to hold and transact in ZEC is likely not good for their financial health/stability; especially over short timeframes. This is what makes AMP protocol so good. Retailers can choose what they want to receive. My understanding is the research and empirical evidence is retailers want the local currency (or USD). So your 10% is probably closer to 2-3%. but if you are really seeing 1:10 retailers signing up to accept ZEC, that’s huge. Can you start a list of retailers accepting? AMP does this and it’s nice to see.

Flexa, using the AMP protocol, also integrates with Woo Commerce. (note zcash is a crypto option to use for payments for flexa and AMP). And you say you do also? Can you explain your integration more and how many retailers you reach?

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Good question. Items on Zecmart are shown in USD to either protect Zecmart from losing money on a sale or to keep prices reasonable. For example, a shirt might be priced at $24.95. The blank shirt might cost $12, the printing company might charge $6, and DHL might charge $6 for shipping. All those costs are fixed in dollars.

Imagine Zecmart prices a shirt at 1 ZEC. That’s good today, but what if in a few days the price of 1 ZEC goes to $20. Then Zecmart would lose money on the sale because we would accept $20 worth of value and have to pay $23 to produce the item. In the other direction, imagine the price of ZEC goes to $100. No customer will pay 1 ZEC worth $100 for a shirt.


That’s exactly why stablecoins are needed. ZEC can’t exist without stablecoins or fiat. and no matter how high zec goes, it will be the same at 30,000 as it is at 30. ( you explained it very well too.)

I have put together a poll to gauge interest in moving harder and faster on stablecoins and improving ZEC economics. Please take a look and vote.


This is exactly what a bi-monetary economy is. When two or more currencies co-exist in a single market they no longer have an endogamic dynamic over value and supply. The co-existing currencies correlate and influence each other in a triangle or value, supply and purchase power. Unless states adopt ZEC as the sole currency, ZEC will always reference to a fiat currency in a was ZEC <> Purchasable Good <> FIAT Currency. Cypto-pegs against fiat currencies are needed for day-to-day use because most of the goods and services are trade with the local fiat currency.

People at Zcon panel have mentioned that there are studies saying that there is no interest in ZSAs shown. It would be interesting to know how that study was conducted. It’s obvious that there won’t be interest in places where they have currencies that are already referenced by exchanges like EUR and USD those are strong currencies whose users don’t perceive they have to hedge from. It’s been my experience when purchasing in developed countries that EUR and USD users don’t understand devaluation and exchange rates as concepts.


why do you think these countries are so adamant about having a strong currency? i think they understand the importance of strong currency more than any country in the world. Now the people you deal with might not. But the USA cares deeply about global trade and a strong currency is critical. I think you are talking about local citizens, which is possibly true. the fed had done such a good job that people really don’t have to think about it.

Do you really think ZEC is a good replacement for any currency given its volitility? it’s probably more volitile than almost any currency i the world.

ZEC needs a stability layer. I’ve hired maybe 30 people all over the world asks remote workers. Guess what. They all want to get paid and in USD. no matter if it’s Asia, Europe, India, Ukraine…They dont ask for bitcoin. i ask them why not and they say it’s not stable enough! so maybe your study just doesn’t include working people.

there is very high interest for digital money in the usa. it’s in very high demand. venmo, cash, paypal, and many more digital money apps are exploding. the apps are becoming banks. Now i’m using paypal to pay people in many countries and it’s amazingly simple.


great post @nick!

I agree with the stale-ness concern. The need for a re-thinked identity, goals and market differentiation.

I disagree with the idea of needing to re-invent things. We should make an introspection as a community and try to identify what’s been done well and what hasn’t.

Zcash the protocol, is backed by and develop with strong science and method. On the other hand I think Zcash the product, is quite the opposite. And that’s what I believe we need to change.

I’ve heard numerous times that we need “world-class UX for ZEC”. The research on blockchain HCI I’ve read shows that there’s no such thing and that Crypto UX is world-wide broken.

So, what to do when there are no good examples to imitate? For the long run, Zcash needs rigorous UX Research.

What to do in the short term? I have a few ideas:

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Blatantly imitate and adapt what has worked for others, then measure again.
  • Use patterns that users already know to attract them here.
  • Be coherent with we say and what we do.

Let me give an example. The following is a thinking exercise. Non binding. just to explain a work methodology

Let’s say that tomorrow we all reach a consensus and we think that Zcash is the Bitcoin Satoshi always wanted, and our mission will be to make Zcash be the “no-brainer” replacement.

How we shall approach that?

We say we have this hypothesis:
To be better than Bitcoin, Zcash has to be at least what Bitcoin is, then offer more.

Then we need to prove this hypothesis as valid. We need to conduct research on. Because it could be possible that people don’t want a better bitcoin as well.

For the sake of simplicity let’s suppose that we run some experiments, surveys and we conclude that YES, PEOPLE WANT A BETTER BITCOIN, and that Better means, the same features that it has plus privacy. Great!

This brings a question “What does Bitcoin do that Zcash doesn’t, what does Zcash do that bitcoin does not? How do we get on-par with BTC?”

A team has to work to answer that questions so other teams can start tackling on those.

The team has worked on a comparison and shared the results with the community which are condensed in this 10-ish points:

  • Bitcoin has transparent transactions. Zcash as well.
  • Bitcoin is top of mind, Zcash is not.
  • Bitcoin is on every exchange, Zcash is a few exchanges in some countries.
  • Bitcoin is not fungible, Zcash is
  • Bitcoin has no privacy, Zcash has.
  • Bitcoin can be easily converted to fiat back and forth, Zcash… not so much
  • Bitcoin has many wallets of all sorts, Zcash has 6 wallets.
  • Bitcoin has solutions for long lasting hodling and coin heritage (E.G. Casa), Zcash has many pools and long term Zodling through NU’s is a problem.
  • Bitcoin has an L2 network for fast payment settlement and low fees, Zcash has not.
  • Bitcoin is available in all hardware wallets, Zcash is struggling to get into one of them.

Great! now we know! What do we do first?

We have to define Priorities. How do we find what is more important and what’s less important? You guessed! with research and gathering sentiment.

with the priorities set, we can allocate resources to teams that will work on them. upon implementation measurement has to be done to validate the hypothesis and see if in fact the statement we defined holds.
If it does not, then pivot. the ball keeps rolling.
end of example

You will appreciate there’s a pattern here:

There is not much guesswork or reliance on visionaries.
It’s just plain and boring methodical work that lets us work on solid grounds.

This is not intended to be infallible, but to know why we failed or why we succeeded, so that we can repeat success and avoid failure.

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I don’t advocate for anyone to “hold crypto”. I want people to use ZEC, how long it takes between someone on-ramping and off-ramping that ZEC will depend on other factors, like market conditions. If you get paid in ZEC and have places to spend it, you won’t off-ramp all of it immediately[1]. Vendors have a cash management policy, where they decide how often they collect their cash and go deposit it at a bank, because there are things you can’t pay for in cash. I expect vendors to do the same with digital cash because there are things you can’t pay for in ZEC.

I disagree that using Flexa is a vendor accepting crypto. I see it more as a portable CEX, where you can place market orders for your ZEC and then you have fiat to spend at the vendor.

No, we use a flexible subscription model. If we are going to market a new set of payment rails, we can’t be just like the old one. And that’s the beauty of Zcash, the technology allows us to bring the same functionality[2] for a very small fraction of the cost of traditional payment processors.

My 10% was a complete guesstimate of how many customers would pay a vendor in ZEC. And you’re right, it’s probably 2-3%, maybe even less in certain areas of the US. However, in Brazil and Venezuela, this number is likely higher and there is where an app like ours can help vendors.

Our plugin lets the vendor accept shielded ZEC directly from the customer’s wallet to theirs. ZGo handles converting the price to ZEC, prompting the customer for payment, and confirming the payment on-chain[3].

In order for ZEC to be used widely, we need them to spend their ZEC and not just off-ramp. We won’t be able to get wide adoption if the ZEC economy is just a handful of vendors that take ZEC from ZCG grantees and off-ramp immediately. This ties directly with the points that @januszgrze has been making in the forum and at Zcon4, that we need more ways for more people to get ZEC. And accepting it for your goods and services is one of those options.

  1. As a ZCG grant recipient, I spent a lot of time looking for people that would accept ZEC for some of the services we required. Finding none, I need to pay in fiat. This is the vendor pool I want to grow. ↩︎

  2. Better, actually. The risk of chargebacks is reduced significantly and so is fraud. ↩︎

  3. Buy a shirt from ZecMart, try it out :grinning: ↩︎


This is on the right track. think outside the box. what bitcoin is missing is an end to end solution. that means a privacy based stable coin combined with zec. zec is inherently unstable. but with the right model, it can have intrinsic value; especially if paired with privacy based stablecoins.