ZEC is used as the native currency of Zcash, a decentralized and open-source digital asset platform that gives you the ability to determine which information about your transaction you’d like to be publicly broadcasted. The user can initiate a shielded or transparent transaction. Shielded transactions utilize zero-knowledge proofs called zk-SNARKs that make for a completely anonymous network.
Zcash, previously known as Zerocoin, was created in 2013 in an effort to combine advanced mathematical techniques like zero-knowledge proofs, that introduce anonymity to the protocol, with the proven consensus mechanisms of the Bitcoin blockchain. The Zcash founders were concerned that Bitcoin could not offer adequate privacy to users of the cryptocurrency. However, after initial testing with zero-knowledge proofs, Bitcoin core developers decided that the feature was too cumbersome to be integrated with Bitcoin’s programmatic functions.
Zcash developers would eventually improve their protocol resulting in significantly more efficient zero-knowledge proofs. Once the protocol had been fully launched, the project brought on CEO, Zooko Wilcox, who raised more than $3 million from venture capital firms. The team, now with a fully functional protocol, began development of comprehensive and privacy-focused cryptocurrency. In 2017, the Zcash Foundation was created as a nonprofit to fund future development of the protocol and digital currency. Two years later, the Zcash company was renamed as the Electric Coin Company.