Cryptocurrencies are inherently trust-less. They can be monitored, verified and even hard forked into a new currency – if the community decides to do so. This nearly happened when third-party developer D. Jane Mercer discovered that he was working for free. Developer funding and donations had long since dried up, despite his continuing to maintain the only Windows compatible ZEC wallet. As such, he implied that he would hard fork the Zcash (ZEC) blockchain to make up for his budget shortage.
While the community responded swiftly – raising over $15k to prevent the hard fork – it does call into question the stability of a currency that can be held hostage by one person. Mercer’s reasoning may be justified, and the forked currency would require community support to thrive. However, it does not bode well for the stability of the coin that this possibility exists.
Competing in the Privacy Coin Space
Zcash’s public perception has been on an upswing due to several high-profile announcements in the past year. The most recent of which is the decision to allow ASIC mining on the Zcash blockchain. The community’s initial hesitance lost out in a full vote, with BitMain’s new Zcash specific miner available for purchase. Users often worry that the power of ASIC mining will aide in centralizing the targeted cryptocurrency – something that competing privacy coin Monero strictly avoids.
Prior, ZEC became one of the next generation of coins added to the Gemini Exchange. Alongside Coinbase, Gemini offers U.S. investors a means to directly invest fiat currency into the cryptocurrency market. Zcashs’s addition to the exchange resulted in an expected rise in price, while also lending a powerful legitimacy to the coin.
Overwinter is Here
The first in a series of major updates to the ZEC blockchain came soon after Mercer’s stunt. Titled ‘Overwinter’, the update comes in the form a hard-fork for the entire blockchain. Critical to this process is Overwinter’s inclusion of a replay protection feature – ensuring that the old chain can not affect the new one. Otherwise, it is designed to prepare the system for the following update titled ‘Sapling.’
Sapling is a much larger update scheduled for later in the year. Where Overwinter is a minor tweak – mostly for practice, and to acclimate the community to hard-forked updates – Sapling will bring new features to the ZEC blockchain. Developers claim that these features will significantly speed up transactions while maintaining the critical level of privacy that gained Zcash the support of avowed security expert Edward Snowden.
Article By: Adam Stone