Zcash is in the spotlight. The encryption-focused “friendly fork” of Bitcoin surged this week, after the Gemini exchange owned by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss became the first licensed Zcash exchange. The twins’ support for the coin has propelled it to new heights, and an upcoming “hard fork” could draw even more attention.
What Is Zcash and How Is It Like Bitcoin?
If Bitcoin is the HTTP of money, Zcash is the HTTPS. That’s the team’s description of the cryptocurrency, and in layman’s terms it means Zcash is aimed at being a highly secure cryptocurrency with privacy protections. The token uses zero-knowledge proofs to allow fully encrypted transactions, enabling the use of a public blockchain while ensuring that their information is private.
“Zcash picks up where Bitcoin left off,” Tyler Winklevoss said in a statement about adding the cryptocurrency. “Bitcoin has many strengths, but privacy is not one of them.”
Because of its status as a “friendly fork” of Bitcoin, Zcash belongs to the “Nakamoto Family Tree” of commodities.
“Part of the reason a coin like Zcash has a smaller market cap is because people are not sure if regulators will ever get comfortable with this type of technology,” Cameron Winklevoss told Bloomberg. “Today demonstrates that through education and collaboration and with the right controls in place, regulators can get comfortable with privacy technology.”
Zcash Price Movements
Zcash is the 22nd-largest cryptocurrency, with a current market cap of $1.37 billion. On Tuesday, the price soared 14 percent in the space of 24 hours after the Gemini news broken, jumping to $360.79 per token. On Friday, the coin was valued at $349.30, maintaining the gains from earlier in the week.
This is well below its all-time high, though. When it first launched in October 2016, CoinMarketCap recorded a price of $4,293.37. The coin spent the first few months of 2017 around the $45 mark, before rising amid growing interest in the wider cryptocurrency market. On January 8, the coin reached a staggering $876.31, as Bitcoin slumped from its December peaks and so-called “altcoins” reaped the rewards of a diversified interest in the market.
The Zcash Hard Fork
The community is waiting for the cryptocurrency’s upcoming hard fork. The “Overwinter” network upgrade adds a number of new features that will help prepare the network for future changes. The upgrade is set for block 347,500: assuming a rate of 150 seconds per block, the network should reach that point on June 25 at 4:24 p.m. Eastern time. The network will then have three months after that release to upgrade their software with the new protocol. Average users will need to check with their exchange or wallet whether they will support the upgrade.
“Overwinter,” version 1.1 announced March 2, is a required upgrade for the network that is not backward compatible, making it a “hard fork.” The network launched with version 1.0 “Sprout,” and the next upgrade will be version 2.0 “Sapling” with a release expected in July.
The update will add performance improvements for transparent transactions, replay protection in the case of network upgrades, versioning, transaction expiry that closes transactions queued for over an hour, and more. The update is mostly aimed at paving the way for “Sapling.”