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Zcash: A Cryptocurrency More Secure and Anonymous Than Bitcoin?

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When MT Gox, bitcoin’s biggest exchange at the time, suddenly announced during February 2014 that they had “lost” almost $1 billion worth of bitcoins, some took to the blockchain to see what had happened. Their analysis led, in just a few days, to the second biggest news of that year: MT Gox still held 200,000 bitcoins, then worth $200 million, they appeared to be hiding.

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Initially, there was some public debate with Gregory Maxwell, a bitcoin developer, disputing the findings, but all was confirmed when MT Gox publicly stated they had forgotten about $200 million.

The event revealed what is now widely accepted: Bitcoin provides very little privacy. All transactions are public and can be seen by everyone as bitcoin’s public blockchain operates in effect similar to a bank statement which does not show names or addresses, but does show bank account numbers and all transactions from and to that specific bank account.

It can, therefore, be very easy, if ownership of a bitcoin address is known, to see what exactly happened, at what time and between who. To provide an added level of privacy, mixers and tumblers were invented which shuffle transactions between different bitcoin addresses to obfuscate origin and amount. However, Kathryn Haun, Assistant Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in San Francisco and lecturer on digital currencies at Stanford Law School, recently stated that tumblers and mixers do not work as “some of the time,” it is possible to “unscramble” transactions.

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Monero, a new digital currency that incorporates mixing at the protocol level, tried to improve public blockchain privacy, but like bitcoin, it too shows what address is transacting with who and in what amount. Although it obfuscates such information, complex analysis can, potentially, “unscramble” transactions. Monero, therefore, while providing added privacy in comparison to bitcoin, does not have strong privacy guarantees.

Does Zcash?

Zcash is a new digital currency created by an impeccable team of developers. Many of them, such as Matthew Green and Zooko Wilcox, are worldwide recognized cryptographic experts, joined by numerous other scientists holding positions at John Hopkins University, MIT and Tel Aviv University.

In the past four years, they have invented a new cryptographic scheme, zero-knowledge Succinct Non-interactive Arguments of Knowledge (zk-SNARKs) or zero knowledge proofs. According to the peer reviewed whitepaper, this allows “users to directly pay each other privately: the corresponding transaction hides the payment’s origin, destination, and transferred amount.”

However, due to a bug in Zcash, private transactions, called z-addr transactions, are currently not possible, but, in theory, a zcash private transaction should look as in the image below:

A Theoretical Private Zcash Transaction

A Theoretical Private Zcash Transaction. Image courtesy: BlockchainHub

Rather than a public address, a hash is shown on the left side which is comparable to, say, a reddit nickname being turned into random number and letters, preventing us, therefore, from knowing the pseudonym. The same applies to the right side. That is all we can see. No amount is shown, no public address, therefore there is no way to gain any information whatever from this transaction. An incredibly strong privacy guarantee as it allows no tracking, making Zcash, arguably, more private than paper money.

Does Zcash Really Provide Anonymity?

However, Zcash’s technology is very new and unproven. The cryptography behind Zcash, zk-SNARKs, was invented only a few years ago. It has not yet been battle tested, leaving open the possibility that clever methods to de-anonymize zcash transactions can be discovered, but, the caliber of Zcash developers instills confidence. Many of them have contributed to bitcoin development for years with Zooko Wilcox participating in the now famous thread where Nakamoto announced the Bitcoin whitepaper. As such, if full privacy for digital currency transactions is possible, it seems unlikely there is any better team to make it a reality.

On the security front, there have been a number of audits, but, fundamentally, the entire network has just been born. As such, it is difficult to say Zcash is more secure than bitcoin. Bugs, set-backs and other battle testing events should be expected as Bitcoin itself had a number of them in its early days, including transaction malleability which slightly contributed towards MT Gox’s downfall.

On the other hand, Zcash is built on top of Bitcoin. It is likely, therefore, to have around the same level of security, but unlike bitcoin, the new currency continues the quest for one of the holy grails in the blockchain space: full privacy, promised by Bitcoin, Monero, as well as tumblers and mixers, without much success.

Zcash, perhaps, can deliver where others have failed. If it manages to do so, it uniquely promises full privacy from the public while at the same time allowing regulators, employees, customers, or anyone else, to see transparently any transaction, solving a very serious problem with much market demand.

But, whether it actually succeeds in its aim remains to be seen as the new cryptographic method and the overall network, which has already faced a bug delaying the practical launch of private zec transactions, is audited and pen tested by the brightest minds across the world keen to hack the most valued digital currency which currently trades at more than $1,000 per coin.

Images from Shutterstock and Zcash.

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Analysis

Technical Analysis: Bitcoin Dumps and Pumps amid Broad Volatile Correction

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The crypto segment has been in turmoil today, as the most valuable coins turned significantly lower, leading to a mini-panic, but they rallied strongly off their slows as buyers stepped in the second half of the session.

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Bitcoin fell as low as $5100, for a 15% correction top-to-bottom, but it is now trading near the prior short-term support at $5400. As the long-term picture remains overbought, investors shouldn’t open new positions here, but traders could play a likely move towards the $6000 level, although we still advise small sizes, as correction risks remain elevated.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

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The other majors were also declining in early trading, led by Ripple, with only NEO and IOTA, holding up well during the sell-off.  Both of the latter coins faded away as the rest of the market recovered, but Ripple continued to suffer. For now, the long-term bullish picture is unchanged for the segment, but BTC’s overbought correction could still cause volatility in the coming period. Let’s see the short-term charts after the busy session.

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Bitcoin

Money Leads to More Money – Power to More Power

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Every 5 years the Central People’s Government of China has a grand political event to reshuffle the distribution of power in the world’s most populated country.

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In today’s 19th National Congress the most powerful man in the world just became even more powerful. President Xi delivered an eloquent three hour speech stressing the importance of globalization and China’s role of leadership going into the future.

The reaction from financial markets in Asia was rather muted given the recent gains in global markets.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

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Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of October 18th. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Market Overview

A brand new record high for the Dow Jones and a huge milestone of 23,000 points. The index is now up approximately 25% since Donald Trump was elected last November!!

Though Donald Trump might make a comment or tweet on this fact later today the rally may not be entirely Trump related.

Correlation does not equal causation!!

The Trump election did indeed wake the markets from a deep slumber that it was in with little movement between 2014 and 2016. However, if we zoom out and take a look, we’ll see that since the bottom of the market after the crash of 2008 we’re up 228%.

Many analysts agree that earnings ratios are at their peak yet investor sentiment remains extremely bullish on stocks.

Why are stocks going up?

The reasons are simple. First, there’s still plenty of cash ready for investment left over from the central bank injections over the past decade. Rates for borrowing money are still very cheap, which allows investment firms to borrow money easily and put it in the stocks.

Furthermore, any portfolio manager currently sitting on the sidelines is getting squashed. Try explaining to your clients that you missed out on a 25% rally because you think the markets are overvalued and watch them leave and go to a competitor.

This circle can indeed go on for a while as money does have a tendency to lead to more money.

In this cycle particularly, due to the ample assistance from the central banks, I’m not even certain that historic PE ratios are even a factor.

Bitcoin Volumes

The Crypto Market is pulling back a bit. After the incredible highs we saw over the weekend it only makes sense.

Specifically regarding bitcoin, we need to understand where the excitement and the action are coming from. Sure, many people are fed up with government backed money and I do believe that the financial revolution is well underway. But besides grandiose ideology, there is one country that stands above the rest as far as bitcoin adoption.

According to an article in bitcoin.com 60% of all volume on bitcoin is coming from Japan, with an additional 25% coming from the USA and 9% from South Korea.

Well, that makes sense. After legalizing bitcoin as a currency in April, Japanese vendors and businesses are adopting it at an incredible rate.

We continue to watch other interesting countries that seem to be on the verge of this type of adoption particularly Russia, Australia, and hopefully someday soon, India.

Many thanks to a local band that I’m fond of for the title of today’s update. And many thanks to everyone who continues to send me your comments, feedback, and relevant articles. Keep tagging me!!

This content is provided for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be investment advice or recommendation.
The outlook presented is a personal opinion of the analyst and does not represent an official position of eToro.

Past performance is not an indication of future results. All trading involves risk; only risk capital you are prepared to lose.

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Analysis

Technical Analysis: NEO Jumps as Broad Markets Turns Lower

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As the new waves of regulatory changes keep on hitting the segment, the major cryptocurrencies are mostly lower today. After the major update of Ethereum, and the recent surge in the price of Bitcoin, choppy conditions developed, with no clear short-term trend in most of the coins.

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NEO is the best performing major today, as it surged back to the $30 level after a frustrating period that was dominated by a downward drift.  The coin is now just below the key resistance level, and it could be ready to test the $34 level, with a further target found at $40. The long-term picture still looks positive, with strong support levels at $27 and $25.

NEO/USDT, Daily Chart Analysis

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Ethereum is in a consolidation after the encouraging rally towards the end of last week, while Bitcoin is also correction after its stellar rise. The two largest coins pulled the rest of the majors lower, while Ripple remained very volatile after touching the $0.30 level yesterday, trading below the $0.26 again.

Litecoin, Dash, Monero, and IOTA are all a bit lower today, while Ethereum Classic found some relative strength, although it remains stuck in a declining short-term trend. All in all, the segment is still in a clear uptrend, so let’s see which coins are the most promising regarding the short-term picture.

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