The Zerocoin technology was created in the middle of the past year. The initial idea was to become a part of the existing cryptographic currency Bitcoin to provide more anonymity to users and performed transactions. It should have been an add-on that would reduce proof size by 98% - an extraordinary value that cannot be repeated by any other alternative currency. This good intention has failed due to the controversy of the result – the most famous and valuable virtual coin on the market has already suffered violations, frauds and crimes.
The developers of the product from the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute, in Baltimore - Ian Miers, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, and Aviel Rubin have decided to choose a different path and started the rebranding of the idea. Zerocoin is going to be an independent digital currency to be fully launched in May of 2014. The announcement was made by Prof. Green at the Real World Crypto conference on Monday in New York. He sees it as the next step of the evolution of the Zerocoin. The network and all service are going to be separate and independent from other currencies, as well as from Bitcoin. The functions will be actually the same, the coin will be generated by mining, the blockchain will register the presence of new coins, but the owners and deals will be untraceable. Prof. Green also voiced his satisfaction on the point of development of the new coin – there is no need to keep it relevant to the Bitcoin technology, no factor is limiting possible changes and additions.
The basic principle of delivering privacy and anonymity is the long-time known mathematical scheme - “zero-knowledge proof”. The principle is following: the task has a solution, it is observed as true, but there is no need to present the proof and the steps of the solution. In this case the coin packages are compared to envelopes – no one knows what is inside, the amount can be divided or added to another envelope, but everything is not to be determined.
The developers say that they are not going to fight against the existing leader of the alternative coin world due to the inability to integrate the invention in it. The new aim is to see if the new value could successfully develop and reach the level of Dogecoin, popular due to an Internet gig, or even gain real appreciation as the Bitcoin. They understand why their previous goal could not be reached – crimes, money laundering and black market platforms of the web have reduced the interest of the users towards 100% anonymity. The inability to leave traces seems to Bitcoin users not that necessary and valuable in case of wallet hacking and other types of virtual robberies.
It is not surprising that the Bitcoin supporters are also splitting on the matter of anonymity. Some anarchists are working on the idea of a Dark Wallet that would provide anonymity to existing coins of a user by a simple single click. Still the developers of Zerocoin are not afraid to be compared with this group of activists – the new currency has to prove viability by gaining enough users and a value different from several cents per unit. The price hurdle is one of the most important many alternative money types are stumbling upon.
To support the group of developers a fan of the idea has developed an exchange service and is waiting for the coin to launch. Still, prof. Green warns users from big investments in the coin on the first stages of existence – there might be bugs and other problems that will be solved after gaining some experience. He refers on Zerocoin as an experiment and states that the initiative is not aimed to provide lots of money to the developers; it is enough to for them to succeed and to watch the recognition of their idea by the online society. Let us wish them luck!