What is Zcash? Beyond the Zerocoin project

Everything you need to know about Zcash, a cryptocurrency built to protect user privacy.

Zcash is a cryptocurrency with a strong emphasis on privacy and identity protection. Zcash maintains the features of a public blockchain while enabling completely anonymous transactions.

Learn more Buy Zcash (ZEC)

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What is Zcash?

Icon Symbol Initial release date Algorithm type Max. supply
ZEC 28 October 2016 zk-SNARKs 21 million ZEC

While cryptocurrencies are often hailed as “anonymous,” in many cases user identity can be traced by following the transaction history on the blockchain. Zcash was born from a project called ZeroCoin, originally geared towards improving anonymity for bitcoin users. Using a specialised form of zero-knowledge cryptography, Zcash makes it possible for fully encrypted transactions to be validated by the network’s consensus protocol.

How is Zcash different from bitcoin?

Zcash, itself, is a fork of the bitcoin protocol. While ZEC is a separate cryptocurrency and maintains its own blockchain, the infrastructure is built on top of bitcoin’s core code. Additions to the underlying code that are specific to Zcash include updating the proof-of-work consensus model and introducing zero-knowledge proofs to enhance user privacy.

Bitcoin, and many other cryptocurrencies, rely on private keys to identify users. While these keys are cryptographically generated, an address that is used for multiple transactions over time can become linked to a particular key, leaving a “paper trail” of sorts that is tied to that user. The bitcoin blockchain keeps a record of every transaction, including the addresses of both parties involved and the amount of the transaction, which is accessible to the public. The Zcash blockchain, on the other hand, only shows that a transaction occurred, without revealing the amount exchanged or information about the identity of either the sender or the recipient.

Selective disclosure in Zcash

Zcash grew primarily out of a desire to increase privacy protections for bitcoin users. That being said, within Zcash users can choose whether to use certain privacy features. When making a transaction in Zcash, you have the option to opt in or out of publishing information about your wallet address and the amount of the transaction to the public blockchain. The option for “selective disclosure” within Zcash is designed largely to give users the option to comply with anti-money laundering regulations, tax regulations and audits.

Where can I use ZEC for payment?

Like bitcoin, ZEC can be used as payment anywhere that vendors are willing to accept it. Notably, the multi-currency Jaxx wallet, available for both iOS and Android, has integrated support for ZEC. Services designed to offer users enhanced levels of identity protection, such as certain VPNs, have been some of the first to offer options for Zcash payment.

How to purchase ZEC

You can purchase ZEC on a number of cryptocurrency exchanges, including Bittrex, Poloniex and Shapeshift. In some cases, depending on the particular exchange, you can buy ZEC directly with fiat currency, otherwise, you will need to use bitcoin or another cryptocurrency for your purchase.

Name Product Deposit Methods Fiat Currencies Supported Cryptocurrencies
Cash, BPAY, POLi, Cryptocurrency
AUD
BTC, BCH, ETH, XRP, ADA, XEM, LTC, XLM, TRX, DASH, NEO, XMR, EOS, QTUM, BTG, LSK, ETC, XVG & over 100+ more
CoinSpot is an Australian-based marketplace that allows you to easily buy, sell or trade more than 100 cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency
BTC, XRP, USDT, ETH, NEB, XVG, TRX, NEBL, ETH, NEO, FUN, ETC, BCC, POE, DASH, ELF, ICX, BNB, ZRX, APPC & 80+ more
Trade an extensive range of reputable coins on this world-renowned exchange, popular for its high liquidity and multi-language support.
Cryptocurrency, Wire Transfer
New account holders must now deposit fiat/crypto equivalent to US$10,000 to trade.
USD, EUR
BTC, BCH, BTG, IQ, TRX, GNT, AVT, DASH, DATA, EDO, EOS, ETC, ETH, ETP, LTC, MIOTA, NEO, OMG, QTUM, SAN, USDT, XMR, XRP, BAT, ZRX, FUN, MANA, SPANK, TNB, RLC, RCN, REP, ELF, AID, SNGLS, SNT, QASH, YOYO, MITH
Spot trade all of the major cryptos on this full-featured exchange and margin trading platform.
Credit card, Debit card
USD, EUR, RUB
BTC, BTG, BURST, BYC, CANN, CFI, CLAM, CLOAK, CLUB, COVAL, CPC, CRB, CRW, CURE, CVC, DASH, DCR, DCT, DGB, DMD, DNT, DOGE, OMG & 140+ more
Use your credit or debit card to buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrency without having to verify your identity.
Credit card, Debit card
USD, EUR
BTC, BCH, ETH, XMR, ZEC, DASH, XRP, ETC, LTC, DOGE, XLM,1ST, ADX, AMP, ANT, BAT, BCN, BNT, BTG, CFI, CVC & 70+ more
Access competitive crypto-to-crypto exchange rates for more than 35 cryptocurrencies on this global exchange.
Huobi.pro Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency
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BTC, ETH, HT, LTC, PAI, BCH, XRP, DASH, IOST, EOS, TRX, ETC, OCN, ONT, ELF, ABT, CMT, ELA, ZEC, OMG & 75+ more
Huobi.pro is a digital currency exchange that allows its users to trade more than 190 cryptocurrency pairs.
Bithumb Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency, Wire transfer
KRW
BTC, BTG, BCH, DASH, ETC, LTC, EOS, XRP, ETH, QTUM, TRX, ICX, VET, XMR, ZEC, MITH
A global platform where users can make KRW and cryptocurrency deposits to purchase up to 15 popular cryptocurrencies.
OKEx Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency, Bank transfer, Alipay, WeChat Pay
USD, CNY
BTC, ETH, LTC, EOS, TRX, ETC, BCH, TRUE, XRP, ABT, HSR, MITH, BTM, AUTO, IOST, & over 119+ more
Listing over 100 cryptocurrencies, OKEx offers its users a variety of payment methods and coins to choose from.
Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange
Electronic Funds Transfer, SEPA, Wire Transfer *payment methods vary per country
USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, CAD
BTC, BCH, ETH, ETC, XMR, DASH, LTC, XRP, XLM, REP, ICN, MLN, ZEC, USDT, GNO, EOS
Exchange multiple cryptocurrencies through a range of payment methods, including Electronic Funds Transfer, SEPA or Wire Transfer.
Poloniex Digital Asset Exchange
Cryptocurrency
-
BTC, ETH, XRP, DOGE, XLM, ETC, STRAT, LTC, SC, DGB, BCH, LSK, XMR & 50 more
Trade various coins through a global crypto to crypto exchange based in the US.
Exmo Cryptocurrency Exchange
Credit card, Debit card, Cryptocurrency, Perfect Money, SEPA, Wire Transfer, Payza, CryptoCapital, Money Polo, Payeer, Giropay, Yandex Money & more
USD, EUR, RUB, PLN, UAH
BTC, BCH, ETH, ETC, XRP, KICK, DASH, WAVES, ZEC, XMR, LTC, DOGE, USDT
A UK-based cryptocurrency platform that provides buyers with a wide variety of payment options.
YoBit Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency, Payeer, AdvCash, Perfect Money, Capitalist, QIWI* Only available for RUB deposits
USD, RUB
BTC, BTG, DASH, ETH, LTC, DOGE, WAVES, LSK, BCC, TRX, ABYSS, PAC, ZEC, XVG, EOS, ETC, RDD, TOKC, B2X, TTC & 400+ more
Pay in USD, RUB or trade crypto to crypto at this Russian-based cryptocurrency exchange with hundreds of coins listed.
KuCoin Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency
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BTC, BCH, DAG, ETH, XRP, EOS, LTC, ADA, TRX, NEO, ONT, STEEM, BTM, BCD, ZINC, VET, OLT, NUSD & 50+ more
Browse a variety of coin offerings in one of the largest multi-cryptocurrency exchanges and pay in cryptocurrency.
Qryptos Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency
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Owned by the team behind QUOINEX, QRYPTOS is a global crypto-to-crypto platform which supports over 50 cryptocurrencies and offers negative trading maker fees to generate liquidity.
Cryptopia Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency
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Mercatox Cryptocurrency Exchange
OKPay, PerfectMoney, Yandex Money, Payeer, QIWI, Cryptocurrency
USD, EUR, RUB
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Supporting over 100 coins, you can exchange a variety of cryptocurrency pairs on this peer-to-peer platform.
Bittrex Digital Currency Exchange
Cryptocurrency, Wire transfer
USD
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Buy from one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges with a selection of over 190+ cryptocurrencies and 3 USD pairings.
Cryptonit Cryptocurrency Exchange
PayPal, Moneygram, OKPAY, Perfect Money, SEPA, WebMoney, Western Union, Wire Transfer, Paxum, QIWI, Payeer
EUR, USD
BTC, ETH, ETC, ZEC
Cryptonit is a secure platform for trading fiat currency for bitcoin, Litecoin, Peercoin and other cryptocurrencies which can be delivered to your digital wallet of choice.
ShapeShift Cryptocurrency Exchange
Cryptocurrency
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BTC, BCH, BTG, ETH, ETC, FUN, 1ST, ANT, BAT, BNT, BLK, CVC, CLAM, DASH, DCR, DGB, DNT, DOGE, EDG, EOS, FCT, GAME & 25+ more
A global exchange where no account is needed to begin trading cryptocurrency to cryptocurrency.

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Historically there has been some stigma attached to cryptocurrencies that place an emphasis on anonymity, fuelled by the assumption that anyone who uses them must be engaging in some sort of illicit behaviour. However, with the rise of identity theft, ad targeting, data mining and other forms of surveillance, many people are beginning to take increased measures to protect their identities.

It is also possible to mine ZEC. By contributing to the Zcash network, miners can earn rewards by devoting computing power to validating transactions on the Zcash blockchain.

What to watch out for

      • Zcash can be used as a privacy enhancement tool, but it is not anonymous by default. Furthermore, because shielding transaction data from the public blockchain is an optional feature, it is possible that only a minority of users will take advantage of this ability, potentially making it easier to trace the history of private transactions on an otherwise largely transparent blockchain.
      • Zcash uses a new form of cryptographic algorithm. Like any new technology, zk-SNARKs is still being tested, explored and developed. The possibility for unknown vulnerabilities to be exploited is something that users should be aware of.
      • Unlike some other cryptocurrencies, there is a company behind Zcash. Zooko Wilcox, generally considered to be the creator of Zcash, is the CEO of the Zcash company. 10% of all Zcash mined within the first four years, called the “Founders Reward,” goes to stakeholders in the Zcash company.

What’s next for Zcash?

      • Collaboration with Ethereum. The team behind Zcash is working with the developers at Ethereum to integrate the algorithms behind Zcash’s privacy features into the Ethereum platform. Ongoing collaboration between these two projects includes a vision to create a larger bridge between the Zcash and Ethereum blockchains.
      • Cross-chain atomic swaps. Often abbreviated to XCAT, cross-chain atomic swaps are on the development roadmap for Zcash. These allow instant trades between cryptocurrencies and blockchains. In addition to integrating with the Ethereum blockchain, Zcash is also working on developing interoperability with bitcoin and other blockchains.

Frequently asked questions

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