Thursday, December 12

AMA Session with Reuben Yap, Project Stewards of Zcoin on Honest Mining Telegram Group

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Honest Mining AMA Session with Zcoin

Welcome to our latest post in our series of Honest Mining’s Community-run AMAs.

The ongoing AMA series on Telegram is an event that features various guests from the crypto community and leadership team. The objective of the series is to give our community an opportunity to communicate directly with team members, and to give team members — especially those who operate largely behind the scenes — a chance to share their insights and offer the community a window into their work.

The most recent AMA took place on November 21th with Reuben Yap, ZCoin’s Project Steward. Over the course of the AMA, Reuben fielded both pre-submitted and live questions from our community members concerning a variety of topics related to the development of Zcoin.

Highlights can be found below as transcribed by Mary, our community managers:

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Hi everyone, welcome to the latest of our Honest Mining AMA Series with ZCoin.

First of all, let me give you a short summary about today’s AMA. We will have 3 segments to discuss, that consist of:

Segment 1: Project Presentation by Reuben Yap, Project Steward of Zcoin

Segment 2: Team Discussion – During this session, we will ask Reuben about detailed information related to Zcoin.

Segment 3: Community Discussion – During this session, We will give you time to ask ZCoin related question to Reuben.

We also have special reward for 4 lucky winners with a total rewards of $100 worth of XZC. So prepare your interesting questions! Firstly, we want to start our first segment with a project presentation by Reuben Yap. 

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Thank you Mary, My name is Reuben Yap, as Mary mentioned, I am the Project Steward of Zcoin and have been with the team since 2016. At the beginning, I started as Zcoin’s first employee by becoming a part time community manager. I continue to become ZCoin’s COO and Project Steward. I generally handle all the operational sides and strategy side of Zcoin and keep tabs on development work as well. Beside this, I also founded a VPN service in 2007 and becoming the first merchant in Malaysia to accept cryptocurrencies in late 2012. 

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Very Nice, that’s an impressive background ongoing. So to the next question: Would you please share with us about project ZCoin?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Zcoin (zcoin.io) is a privacy coin and we’ve been around since 2016. We’re the first coin to use zero knowledge proofs in a privacy system that pioneered the use of the Zerocoin protocol (not to be confused with the Zerocash protocol that is used by Zcash). All other coins using Zerocoin either use our code or have drawn inspiration from our implementation.

We now have moved on from Zerocoin and upgraded to something that is better which has better cryptography and better performance called Sigma. This was coded from the ground up by Zcoin and is now used in several other coins as well. 

We are also the creators of the Lelantus protocol (lelantus.io) which further expands on Sigma and gives further advantages such as hidden amounts and direct anonymous transfers. We plan to implement this protocol sometimes in 2020. To further provide privacy, we allow users to destroy their coins, and then at any time after this process, user can redeem brand new coins with no previous transaction history (they appear as freshly mined coins) by producing a zero knowledge proof. The proof proves that the user burned the coin without having to show which exact coin he burnt.

We are also the first coin to go live with Dandelion++, that changes the way transactions propagate that make it hard for people to tie an IP address to a transaction without requiring them to use TOR or a VPN. This process is live by default.

Another milestone happened in November 2018, where Zcoin’s blockchain was used to hold Thailand’s Democrat Party’s primary elections to elect its party leader. It was the world’s first large scale political election on the blockchain with over 127,000 votes cast. So that’s pretty cool. Beside this, we’re also traded on major exchanges like Binance, Indodax, Huobi and Bittrex to name a few.

On a side note, we are also allowing people to create tokens on our blockchain that use our privacy tech so you can have your own private token or even hold your little polls/elections right on our blockchain using zk proofs. 

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Wow, Amazing to hear what ZCoin can do in terms of users privacy features,  Would you also share with us about the mission of ZCoin?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Let me start by sharing this, Bitcoin was supposed to be this uncontrollable and uncensorable money. It came up just after the US subprime mortgage crisis where banks, the government screwed us over and got taxpayers to bail them out. People realized that we needed money that was not controlled by any one entity and can’t be censored.

However you can’t have uncensorable money if you don’t have privacy. You can blacklist tainted coins which is already happening today. You can identify people and transactions on Bitcoin. Hence,this really affects its ability from being ‘above control’

On the blockchain, all transactions are public and permanently stored unless you have privacy features. For example, Bitcoin is merely pseudonymous. You can see all transaction flows and the history of every coin. And we still need to deal with entities that know our identity, as in merchants and exchanges. What we don’t want is a situation where if I regularly pay a merchant or deposit money to an exchange, suddenly the merchant or exchange knows a whole lot more about my spending history or even how much do I hold.

Privacy is not so much about hiding things, but more about having the ability to choose what you want to share with the world, rather than being forced to do so.

As we are slowly gearing to move towards cashless societies with centralized digital currencies, governments and organizations now can have full view of our financial histories, and we have to ask ourselves, have we always been able to trust governments? Can we be so sure that such information isn’t leaked out? We’ve already seen so many cases of data leakages from even the biggest organizations.

Simply put, The only people we should trust with our data is ourselves and that people should be free to use digital currencies just like cash, without fear of surveillance or worry about where it’s been and this is why we need privacy on the blockchain. This is the Mission of ZCoin. 

Mary | Honest Mining CM

I see, Let’s get more technical in regards to the privacy features on ZCoin. How does exactly Zcoin privacy mechanism work?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Sure thing. The primary thing that reveals privacy are the linkages of who paid who. In other words, it is the transaction graph. For example, If I know A paid to B and can see the flow of money, relationships emerge. 

Other methods of privacy such as used in Monero or MW rely on hiding in a crowd. This means you’re just ‘hiding’ your transaction in a group of others giving you plausible deniability whereas Zcoin’s approach is different. 

We want to break the transaction graph completely, not merely obscure it. We do this by allowing people to destroy their coins while retaining a receipt that will allow them to redeem brand new coins in the future. These brand new coins have no previous transaction history and appear as freshly mined virgin coins.

The receipt is special because it proves that you burnt coins without showing which coins you burnt. And this is how our “zero knowledge proof’ work. As mentioned before, our new upcoming privacy protocol that is known as Lelantus is even more advanced. This protocol allows you to pass the right to redeem brand new coins to other people without showing who did it, which brings almost an ultimate level of privacy for users.

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Thank you for the detailed explanation, Reuben. In terms of ZCoin as early privacy coins. As you know, There are many other privacy coins at the present time. Why should people stake Zcoin compared to others?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

As you know, Staking is only one element. The more important thing is usage. There are a few ways to approach this. First of all, We believe that our privacy protocol is the best out there with the right balance of using solid cryptography while at the same time enable us to give a very high levels of privacy to user.

In fact, it’s so good and effective that other projects, or even other privacy projects are also looking at it and seeing how they can implement or take ideas from it. For example, Monero Research Labs has contributed to Lelantus research and is also a candidate for scaling Monero’s anonymity and has a new upcoming privacy protocol that is inspired by Lelantus

Furthermore, Beam has also incorporated Lelantus into Lelantus-MW. So, I think it’s a testament to the strength of our privacy protocol. On the other hand, I think we’re one of the few projects that can claim that our chain was really used in the real world.

As I mentioned before, Our blockchain held a large scale political election and we’re planning for more applications of this use. In Thailand, our integration with promptpay allows you to spend Zcoin at millions of merchants. 

Of course, Adoption levels are far from ideal at the moment and it is understandable. But we’re making serious strides into the space and Zcoin is a lot more spendable now compared to situation beforehand. 

For example, right now you can book hotel rooms using Travala at several million hotels around the world. You can also buy all sorts of gift cards, and we now have direct ways to get Zcoin using fiat. 

From an investment perspective, Zcoin holders who have 1000 XZC can choose to host a masternode and earn decent returns or do a partial masternode with Honest Mining or other providers. We are working on several ways to make Zcoin usable as collateral in loans or loaning out ZCoin to other people.

Mary | Honest Mining CM

I see. But what is the importance of untraceable transaction history? Wouldn’t it be dangerous if it’s being misused by criminals, for example?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

I think this whole thing of ‘bad people’ and ‘criminals’ using it is a silly argument and is often used to discredit innovation and good technologies. The internet is used by terrorists and child pornographers, yet we always paint ‘privacy’ as only being needed and used by criminals.

But tell me, How would you like a world where everyone can read your every single thought? How would you like a world where your entire finances and transaction history is revealed to the world?

This is what is at stake here, and people still underestimate what we have given up in this world. We use facebook that knows who our friends and what we like to read, Youtube knows our preferences and what we watch, Google knows what is inside our e-mail and what we search for and even where we go!

FInancial privacy with cash is one of the last few things we have, yet now this is being eroded with the movement towards cashless societies. Free money is essential to a healthy democracy.

For your information, the biggest money launderers and enablers of crime are banks but they keep on getting away with it. For example, HSBC association with the sinoloa drug cartel. Cryptocurrency is just a drop in the ocean, yet crypto is often being accused as a “criminal” money.

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Thank you for the insight, Reuben. Now let’s talk more about the future, What is Zcoin main development focus? Will there be any change on Zcoin staking mechanism in the future?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Zcoin has been focused on a few things in the past few months, such as improving our user experience with the launch of our new GUI wallet and also the development of a mobile wallet with Sigma privacy features.

We have also been rapidly improving our lelantus privacy protocol and released a new paper on it. In addition to that, We also released our tokenization layer exodus and are developing easy to use APIs on it so it will become easier for people to launch their own tokens or polls on our blockchain, and also on a total bitcoin core and masternode infrastructure revamp that will be using Dash’s deterministic masternode technology and Chainlocks that prevent miners from doing a 51% attack.

In the next few weeks or so, we also have Receiver Address Privacy features coming up, mnemonic support and many other things. As you can see, despite being in a bear market, we are developing at a breakneck pace. We never had an ICO or millions of dollars of VC and yet we are out delivering many projects with millions of dollars behind their belt.

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Thank you for the detailed update Reuben, Now I will get right to it and ask the questions from those who submitted ahead of time. [The chat is also open; you can ask your questions].

So, the first question from @Alex, he wants to know whether Zcoin sees some advantages form having code based on Bitcoin’s core code. For example, it helps the project to easily make changes that Bitcon creates + anonymous elements that can be considered a big problem, especially in countries like China, where privacy is difficult. 

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

This is definitely true, I don’t think this is an issue for Zcoin to tackle alone but if you have seen lately we are focusing more on the narrative and the importance of a free private uncensorable money instead of just the tech aspect. This will lead to long term belief and also more importantly, Utility. In this space, only a few tokens can claim real utility such as BTC, ETH, XMR and even BNB. Focusing on making stuff usable in the real world is more important.

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Next is a question from @Aakashvani, He wants to know what advantages will your decentralized enterprise solution offers over current centralized solutions?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

The advantage is that it’s decentralized, as in you don’t have to trust anybody. If you want a centralized solution, most often you don’t need a blockchain. The elections on our platform was done because no one trusted anybody.

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Well said. So, to the next question : ZCOIN has built private solution which will be a good idea since it can increase security and privacy. However, when you are on Enterprise level and having an impact on national economy, I think the government will feel uneasy with the private aspect, for example, the case with privacy coin delisting on Korea top exchange. 

So, to resolve the problem on regulation and law-related, How will ZCOIN respond?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Actually this is a good question and an ongoing battle. The idea is to make it so difficult to stop us that regulators would have to regulate around us. This is through expansion in p2p platforms, dexes and right now we are also focusing on easy conversions right in the wallet between BTC and other stuff so even if you ban privacy coins, you can’t really ban Bitcoin as easy and if we serve as a conduit between that, it’s harder to crack down.

But more importantly the south korea’s case was due to a misunderstanding or using the FATF travel rule as an excuse. The FATF travel rule doesn’t ban privacy coins at all and remember it can be used on cash as well which is anonymous. This was just a lame excuse. Now these exchange are reconsidering their decision.

Rimjhim I Community Member

Hi Reuben, Can you share what is the reason why your project coin is better than privacy coins like Monero, grin, and Dash?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Dash doesn’t focus on privacy and it’s privacy is really poor. Monero’s approach has merits but again, as I said earlier, it’s only hiding in a crowd. Each tx is mixing with 10 other outputs so the anonymity can be quite low and there are attacks like Overseer/Flashlight attacks that makes this model is not ideal. Mimblewimble has a lot of issues on its privacy as highlighted by the recent post. I’ll paste my response below:

[Forwarded from Reuben Zcoin]

Ivan’s research highlights a known problem of the MW protocol: it doesn’t do a very good job at hiding the transaction graph. While not a new problem, it did demonstrate a concrete and cheap way to break the only mitigation Grin had to obscure the transaction graph which was to aggregate transactions while in the Dandelion stem phase. The transaction graph is perhaps the most important thing in the privacy of a coin as it shows the flow of the money. While MW still hides amounts and prevents address re-use, this alone isn’t enough for a robust privacy coin. 

While Grin devs are exploring possible solutions it also highlights the advantages of the approach Zcoin has with burning coins and then redeeming them later for brand new ones with no history. This approach effectively breaks the transaction graph and indeed Beam, the other major MW coin has recently announced that it will leverage Zcoins Lelantus technology to provide better privacy on their coin.

While MW is beautiful in its simplicity, its privacy advantages have often been overstated and misunderstood by the public and taken in with a mysterious “Harry Potter” origin story. In fact, many of the early documents describing Grin and Mimblewimble have highlighted the great privacy that MW provides which has perpetuated this myth. Ivan’s research is a big wake up call to everyone on the limitations of MW in its current state and hopefully will spur further improvements.

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Thank you for the insight, Reuben. Now, to discuss several question from @FOREST. 

Question 1: Ivan Bogatyy, a researcher at US published that he was able to break Grin’s purported privacy while spending just $60 per week on AWS. Seeing this case, How can you be sure that Zcoin’s privacy cannot be broken in the same way or one day? Also there are development on quantum computers at companies and states level. Does Quantum Computer Technology threatens Zcoins privacy structure? And Is it possible to combat quantum computer attacks? Also, do you think in the future, one day all of the privacy technology can be broken?

Question 2: Zcoin is a privacy coin but Honestmining is KYC-required platform for staking (above 675 $XCZ). Isn’t it contradictory to Zcoin’s nature that a person who prefer Zcoin for privacy feature will use a KYC-required platform for staking? 

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

I’ll answer the first question as I’m running out of time and I like this question.

The attack vector is very different and doesn’t work in the same way like ours in anyway. This is again a problem with ‘decoy’ or hiding in a crowd models. Quantum computers are a threat but still a distant threat. The recent “hooha” about quantum supremacy is actually a lot of crock, the problems they solve are not meaningful and are designed to favor quantum computers. It’s like saying my knife is better at stabbing than your spoon., that means the knife is better than the spoon. They are a completely different tools.

We aren’t ignoring the threat and are already working on quantum resistant versions of our privacy protocol, but there are bigger issues to tackle at the present time.

Newbie – Software Engineer I Community Member

Hello Reuben, I believe that the privacy feature is as important as decentralization is for cryptocurrencies. I would like to ask you what measures are/will be taken in case of exploitation of a Single-Point-Of-Failure as it is not the case with Bitcoin, but you guys have faces that the government can enact upon. 

How would you tackle this situation if it ever occurs ? as in no government would want to allow private chain transactions because they surely want to control it all. 

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

I love this question. This is great and can only improve when development is decentralized. We are making some changes to the way we work and are funded to address this but will announce this at a later time as this will take a whole hour or so.

SAAHO | Community Member

Hi Reuben, What do privacy coins look like in 5 years? Everyone’s got bulletproofs, and all the coins do pretty much the same thing, or will there continue to be innovation to differentiate privacy projects? What kinds of innovations, and in what areas?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

That’s not true and comes from a misunderstanding of the tech. Bulletproofs as used by people are only one component of privacy. They hide amounts. But the mechanisms are very different. Like for us Lelantus allows ZKP without trusted setup or fancy crypto. This is indeed a breakthrough. An analogy is like saying all vehicles use wheels, they all do the same thing.

Kiren Dude I Community Member

Hi Reuben, Could you share about what differentiates you and the advantages that you hold from your competitors like Monero,Zcash etc. ?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

I already answered this question in the post above. But with Zcash, they have trusted setup so you have to trust that it is done correctly. Also, their crypto is rather experimental and very complex. This makes it so that only a few people in the world can understand it fully, which is bad as it’s effectively security through obscurity.

Tiger I Community Member 

You have the best Privacy centric coin but why is the majority still using other less advantage tokens/coins? what seems to be the reason for this?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Mainly because of Lindy effect and that we have been often mistaken for a fork of Zcash. We also had a very rough start and was written off by many people but the ZCoin that we were in 2016 is very different than in 2019. People are now starting to take notice.

Harley I Community Member 

How much ZCoin Blockchain is Secure ? Recently, A new info comes from google about Quantum Computing that can break Cryptographics Projects. What is your opinion on Quantum Computing? Is Quantum Computing can make any effectc on ZCoin ?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Again, I already answered this question above. The quantum supremacy thing doesn’t come very much closer to running any of the algorithms needed to break crypto.

Joy I Community Member 

Hi Reuben, Do you believe that ZCoin sees some advantages from having code based on Bitcoin’s core code? For example, it helps the project to easily make changes that Bitcon creates + anonymous elements that can be considered a big problem, especially in countries like China, where privacy is difficult.

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

So, Our team is rather small and we want to focus on the main thing that we’re good at which is privacy. I think it’s impossible for a single project to focus on all aspects and try to solve everything. You’ll end up not doing any of these things very well. Bitcoin core is a solid foundation to build on and is also easy for others to adopt and integrate into their platforms. Maybe there will be a day that we will move off and use something else but right now it makes sense.

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Last question from one of our community members, How ZCoin are able to be Completely private,? Which technology and algorithms used by ZCoin that makes ZCoin more private ?

Reuben Yap | ZCoin Project Steward

Sigma and Dandelion ++

Mary | Honest Mining CM

Thanks, everyone, we’ll call it a wrap for the official AMA session with ZCoin. It’s been a wonderful time with Reuben Yap, ZCoin Project Steward.

Comments are closed.

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