"We have been investing in Zcash for about five years, and I expect it will take another five years to reach the level of development we have been looking forward to."
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This is the phrase by Zoono Wilcox, CEO of Electric Coin Company (ECC), the company behind the privacy currency Zcash. On the last day of the RadicalxChange conference held in Detroit in February this year, he talked about Zcash's long-term development trajectory in a conversation.
In the interview, Zooko was carrying a suitcase and coffee in his hand and was preparing to fly to Tokyo to start an extensive “Zcash Global Promotion Tour” in East Asia. ECC created the Zcash protocol and has been a Zcash development center. As the founder and CEO of ECC, Wilcox acknowledges:
"In the more than two years since Zcash was founded, we have not added any substantial changes beyond privacy."
Launched in 2016, Zcash was originally created as an encrypted, privacy-enhanced bitcoin branch. Last October, Zcash carried out the largest agreement upgrade to date, codenamed "Sapling." Josh Cincinnati, executive director of the Zcash Foundation, told CoinDesk:
"I think Sapling is by far the biggest improvement of the Zcash protocol. It has a huge impact, it makes privacy easier to obtain, and it also lays the foundation for the launch of mobile applications. This is a moon landing plan for ECC, and it succeeded. It is."
Now, Wilcox envisions another “three to four-year lunar landing plan” to develop Zcash “in a way that is not specific to privacy.” He said this:
"I agree with the drastic improvement in scalability. I think we need to have high scalability on the first floor in order to achieve the mission of giving everyone economic freedom and opportunity.
Although I think the second layer is already very good, it has many potential uses, but I think we need a second layer that can be expanded. So this is the direction I have been working hard within the company and in the Zcash community. ” But Wilcox pointed out that there are other proposals, one of which is to extend Zcash's proposal to image the Ethereum-like programmable protocol. Wilcox said:
“Of course, we tend to use zero-knowledge proof to do this, so smart contract execution will be private and chain-based.”
All of these proposals must ultimately be implemented through a community review and debate process.
Cincinatti told CoinDesk that in the history of the agreement, the new Zcash Improvement Proposal (ZIP) will be reviewed for the first time by representatives of the ECC and the Zcash Foundation.
New ZIP implementation process
Initially, the implementation of the ZIP was entirely determined by the ECC, and the Zcash Foundation primarily served as a “donation organization”.
Last month, the Foundation announced plans to participate more actively with the ECC in the agreement development process. Cincinatti said:
“The analogy is that I want we to have a peer-to-peer multi-signature governance model. In this model, ECC holds a key and the foundation also holds a key. The broader decision about Zcash must be The Foundation and the ECC agreed."
Therefore, for the network upgrade that ECC plans to launch in April 2020, all ZIPs will be reviewed by two so-called “ZIP editors”. Cincinatti emphasizes:
“As editors, both of us must agree on what features the ZIP should focus on. Rather than agreeing to what we should include, we agree that community consensus should include these.”
The deadline for the ZIP proposal to enter Network Upgrade 3 is April 1st. Cincinatti told Coindesk that there are currently eight proposals under review by editors. The two editors are Daira Hopwood from ECC and Cincinatti from the Foundation.
One of the proposals will introduce a new voting feature that allows users to vote directly with funds in hidden "masked" addresses without having to transfer funds to a public "unshielded" address. Another proposal is to build a private Layer 2 payment network on top of the Zcash protocol called BOLT.
Cincinnati pointed out that when these proposals are approved, tested and activated on the Zcash main network, Zcash will eventually have its second software, the client, to implement the protocol. Currently, all users rely on the Zcash implementation called "zcashd" developed by ECC.
Given the upcoming Zcash multi-client ecosystem, Cincinnati explained that it is very important to start the iterative ZIP process now, he pointed out:
“Ultimately, if there are many implementations that are compatible with the consensus, then you must be able to share and collaborate on the roadmap and feature set.”
Privacy is the mainstream
Beyond the ZIP process, the Zcash network is also preparing to activate two backwards-incompatible changes in the upcoming system-level upgrade (also known as hard fork) in October.
Once the hard fork, called Blossom, is activated, it will increase the network's block time and distribute the network's 20% block reward tax to three fixed wallet addresses—one for the Zcash Foundation and one for the ECC. Strategic reserves, the rest are used for payment.
ECC project manager Nathan Wilcox pointed out on GitHub that the latter change aims to separate the single stream of funds “in organizational, legal and operational” and further strengthen the “transparency of the founder's compensation structure”. Cincinatti added to Coindesk:
“This is just to make it easier for people to identify which rewards will flow into the ECC, which will be used for early founder rewards, and which will be used for other purposes.”
Zooko Wilcox pointed out to CoinDesk that this model of providing sustainable development funds through block incentive taxes has been replicated by other cryptocurrency items, such as the recently launched privacy coin Beam. Beam made its debut in January this year, and soon another privately-focused cryptocurrency, Grin, was born, and it uses similar technology.
For the emergence of these new companies entering the field of cryptocurrencies, Zooko Wilcox told CoinDesk:
“I don’t really like their technology… but I really like these communities because they have a win-win college-style thinking, they like to help others, and I like to help them because we are all on the same front of history. ""
Zooko Wilcox explained that history will eventually prove that privacy cards such as Zcash, Beam and Grin will become the standard for all future cryptocurrencies. He compared the current wave of cryptocurrencies that enhance privacy to the era of encryption technology introduced for web browsing in the 1990s. Wilcox pointed out that encryption technology became the standard after "the political and activists experienced about ten years of hard work." He said:
"In the early days when HTTPS was invented, people thought it turned the network into a special kind of private network, which is very dangerous and is likely to break the law. Now, the US government requires you to have all sensitive information and possible influence. HTTPS is used on the user's information."
Zooko Wilcox believes that similar efforts are taking place, and the government believes that cryptocurrencies such as Zcash, Grin and Beam, which have strong privacy protection, are "dangerous and scary." He said:
"After ten years, no one will say, 'Oh, that's a privacy coin. They will say, 'Oh, this is a normal currency, you can use it to do any normal business in the world. Just like Today we won't say, 'Oh, with HTTPS it must be a private website, I have to use a privacy browser.'"
Wilcox is fully convinced that these major changes to specifications and technology agreements will occur sometime in the next decade. When Detroit Airport was ready to board the plane, Wilcox sent a message before the departure. This is the last thought of our conversation. It is quoted from Bill Gates:
“We always overestimate the changes that will take place in the next two years and overestimate the changes that will occur in the next decade.”