Zcash is a decentralized, peer-to-peer (P2P) digital currency and payment network equipped with privacy- and security-enhanced features. It is the first network to integrate zk-SNARKS1, a breakthrough application of zero-knowledge cryptography, which validates transactions without revealing information such as the address of the sender, receiver, or payment amount. 

Zcash is the implementation of the Zerocash whitepaper, published in May 2014 through the combined efforts of researchers from universities around the world.2 The Zcash network was formally launched on October 28, 2016 by a privately held company known today as the Electric Coin Company (ECC), led by founder and CEO Zooko Wilcox. Separately, in June 2017 a non-profit called the Zcash Foundation formed with the mission of building internet payment and privacy infrastructure for the public good, primarily serving the users of the Zcash protocol and blockchain.3 Together, the ECC and Zcash Foundation have largely been responsible for the continued development and improvement of the Zcash network.

The Zcash Project sought to expand upon Bitcoin, which is considered by many to be the benchmark store-of-value and digital currency. By introducing several technical modifications to the original Bitcoin source code, users are granted the ability to decide on the degree of confidentiality associated with their financial activities. These features concentrate on safeguarding financial privacy and other network upgrades. In addition, the ECC and the Zcash Foundation are backed by prominent digital currency investors4 and development is supported by a team of world-class engineers and researchers specializing in cryptography.

Zcash seeks to become the model digital currency of choice for privacy and digital information security and has established itself to be one of the top 35 largest networks by market cap in the ecosystem.

Learn more about the history and defining characteristics of Zcash in our report, which is part of the Building Blocks series:

1. Short for “Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Arguments of Knowledge”
2. The authors of the Zerocash proposal in alphabetical order are: Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Eran Tromer, and Madars Virza.
3. The Zcash Foundation was established in 2017 as a non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Notably, the Zcash Foundation’s mission is dedicated to internet payment and privacy infrastructure in general, and not specifically the Zcash network. The Zcash Foundation has historically focused on the Zcash network because it believes ZEC is currently the best solution for financial privacy.
4. Digital Currency Group, Inc., the sole member and parent company of Grayscale Investments, LLC, owns an immaterial percentage of the Zcash in circulation and a minority interest in the ECC.