Popular privacy coin Zcash (ZEC) has gone through a major network upgrade that brings new features like automatic shielding and unified addresses.
While the upgrade marks a major milestone for the privacy coin, investors are ostensibly not excited as the coin’s price is largely flat over the past 24 hours. At 9:19 UTC, Zcash is trading at USD 93.32, unchanged over the past day, according to CoinGecko. Overall, it is down nearly 7% in a week and 25% in a month.
Meanwhile, Zooko Wilcox, creator of Zcash and founder and chief executive of the Electric Coin Company (ECC), broke the news today that the Network Upgrade 5 (NU5) was activated on the mainnet at block height 1,687,104 on Tuesday.
The first major upgrade since November 2020, the NU5 includes the launch of the Orchard shielded payment protocol, which utilizes the Halo proving system to remove reliance on complex setup “ceremonies,” also known as trusted setups.
When Zcash launched in 2016, its “zero-knowledge proofs required a setup phase to produce public parameters that allowed users to construct and verify private transactions,” which was called the Ceremony, the ECC said in a blog post. However, with the latest upgrade, reliance on these so-called ceremonies or trusted setups would be eliminated.
“The efficiencies built into this upgrade make possible — for the first time ever — private, trustless digital cash payments on mobile phones,” the ECC said. “Halo also paves the way for increased interoperability by providing a system that could unlock private cross-chain proofs at scale.”
Another important feature that comes with the NU5 is auto-shielding. While users previously needed to opt into shielding their transactions, now any ZEC received to a unified address can be automatically routed to the latest shielded pool.
Zcash is a code fork of the Bitcoin (BTC) protocol that uses zero-knowledge proofs, a form of cryptography, to provide enhanced privacy. With a market capitalization of over USD 1.17bn, Zcash is currently the 58th largest cryptoasset and the second-largest privacy coin behind Monero (XMR) with USD 3.6bn.