Edward Snowden has said on Twitter that Zcash is risky, but certainly has potential. Specifically, he stated: “It’s a moonshot”, ”certain to change everything if it succeeds.” Edward Snowden’s comments on the technology behind Zcash may be part of the reason why Zcash’s price has risen so much in recent days. As of 12/21/17, ZEC is currently trading at ~$679 according to the Block Explorer Market data.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 19, 2017
This is just the latest one of several tweets Snowden has made on the subject of Zcash, referring to its privacy technology, known as Shielded Addresses. In the past, Snowden has even gone so far as to compare Bitcoin and Zcash, stating: “if it’s not private, it’s not safe.”
Agree. Zcash's privacy tech makes it the most interesting Bitcoin alternative. Bitcoin is great, but "if it's not private, it's not safe." https://t.co/HqwQOvSCiz
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 28, 2017
Snowden’s comments on Zcash prompt privacy debate
As a result of this public “support” from Snowden, Zcash’s opt-in privacy has come under fire by Monero users, who state that Monero is the more private and secure of the two currencies. Whether that’s true remains to be seen. Private transactions are certain to change everything, if successful. Some users criticised the fact that Zcash is maintained by a for-profit company, and whether or not that is the best idea for a privacy-oriented currency. Snowden responded raising concerns about the “founder’s fee” that the Zcash company takes, but otherwise stating that because the cryptocurrency is open source, anyone could fork and remove any issues that the company may add. Multiple other responses pointed out that while Zcash transactions can be private, they are not implicitly, and according to one response as few as 0.3% of all Zcash transactions were of the private type.
How Anonymous Transactions work in Zcash
Zcash gives its users opt-in privacy on the blockchain through its Shielded Address. A transaction between two shielded addresses is completely private, meaning that on the blockchain, all that is visible is that a transaction happened, the source, destination, and amount transferred are all hidden. When sending from a Shielded address to a transparent address, the target and the amount the target received are visible on the blockchain, while the sender and the amount sent are not, the inverse is true for sending from a transparent address to a shielded address. And transactions between two transparent addresses are similar to those on the bitcoin blockchain, both the source and destination are visible, as is the amount transferred. It’s worth noting though, that at the time of writing, only a very small percentage of Zcash is stored in shielded addresses.