Introduction to Zcash
Every cryptocurrency is different from one another. Unlike physical currencies the likes of dollars, euros, pesos, pounds and so on, their differences aren’t just superficial, in their appearance or name, but deeply fundamental. It’s part of what makes the world of crypto so exciting. Zcash is one such cryptocurrency. It differs in that its existence is based on very high-end cryptography to ensure top-of-the-line privacy, much more than with other currencies as Etherium or Bitcoin. This is achieved by using a technique known as “transparent” transactions, wherein a zero-knowledge proof, also known as a zk-SNARK (Succinct Non-Interactive Arguments of Knowledge), takes the place of your typical t-addr. They are then shielded and controlled by a z-addr, where they either fall into the transparent Zcash pool or the comparatively smaller shielded pool. From this complicated method developed by its creator professor Matthew Green of the Johns Hopkins University and later refined by infamous coder Zooko Wilcox, Zcash allows transfers with it the selective disclosure option payment can be proven for auditing purposes. This is to comply with anti-money laundering proof and tax regulations, thus definitively shrugging off the popular stigma of crypto being used for less than legitimate purchases.
What is Zcash?
Now, when it comes to Zcash, it used to be one of the most profitable coins for that very purpose and for a relatively long period. Still, with the advent of ASIC miners and the mining industry’s industrialization at scale (“economies of scale”), today much less profitable and approximating profits in the medium to long-term involve too many variables be reliably predictable. Such variables that factor in include difficulty, hash rate, ZEC/USD exchange rate, rewards per block, pool fees, hardware costs, and the power cost, of course, measured in kW/h (perhaps the most crucial point, which means that Zcash mining is most profitable when having access to cheap electricity and a cool environment, as with other coins), thus determining the difficulty in the whole process.
How to mine Zcash
As with other PoW-based cryptocurrencies, the total hash rate reflects the amount of computing power dedicated to processing transactions. The average block time is 2.5 minutes. With Bitcoin, Zcash solo mining is automatically calibrated to stay within that range no matter how much processing power is invested in mining the coin.
When choosing a GPU card for mining ZCash, one should go for the ZCash Nvidia mining GPU (which is best suitable for mining ZCash on the Equihash algorithm (whereas AMD cards are better suitable and more profitable for mining on Ethereum) - Equihash having the reputation of being one of the most ASIC-resistant hashing algorithms in the entire industry.
ZCash mostly uses the Zcash Claymore ZEC Miner, available for download here. Hardware-wise, ZEC miners could be GPU rigs or farms, or even Equihash-specific ASICs.
There is also a dedicated Zcash Reddit for this very purpose, where one can get the latest updates on the matter and serve as a highly specialized Zcash forum if you need to ask questions or acquire tips for getting started. Needless to say, it is useless and futile to bother with ZCash CPU mining, whether as solo mining or in the best Zcash mining pool the consumer can find. The Zcash Flypool and ZCash Nanopool are the most popular ones, with Nanopool also offering pools for Monero, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and others. A step-by-step Zcash mining guide to getting one started (with ZEC or any other currencies supported) can be found here. Flypool on the other hand also mines ETH and ETC (as well as the lesser-known YEC, RVN and BEAM). The current ZCash difficulty chart can be found here (among other analytic providing sites). More detailed information and resources regarding the best current ZCash mining hardware can be here.
The procedure of mining ZCash doesn’t differ much from how other similar currencies are mined. Once everything is put together, assembled, set and configured, you choose one of the available ZCash mining pools and join, sharing the profits in proportion to the computational resources allocated for the purpose. A Zcash mining and profit calculator for roughly approximating costs, profits and ROIs within the range of current parameters as they are can be found here (one among many available, and as already emphasized, the common denominator in proof-of-work mining is always electricity costs). Of course, you will also need a Zcash wallet for mining, but that’s common knowledge. Still, never hurts to point it out. One such wallet is the Exodus desktop wallet, which supports a wide range of available cryptocurrencies (here is also a blog entry from their official site, discussing ZCash and its functional equivalent Monero). Alternatively, both Zcash and Monero provide their own respective wallets (ZECWallet and Monero GUI, CLI, mobile and hardware wallets).
Otherwise, one can buy ZCash from the popular purchasing website Coinbase (using fiat, via credit, debit card or swapping with other cryptocurrencies listed by Coinbase). Binance, CEX.io and eToro are other reliable options one can use to buy Zcash, trade or exchange it on the markets (where Coinbase and CEX.io act more as sellers and custodians, Binance and eToro are actual exchanges, with Binance even offering Zcash futures contracts.)
It is very important when discussing crypto, in general, to mention that Bitcoin transactions, given the immutability of its public records in the ledger, can result in some bitcoins (UTXOs) to become “tainted”, or otherwise associated with a particular hack, ransom, or illicit exchange (of, say, illegal goods) - which may lead to their further spending along the audit trail be traced and blacklisted by some services, exchanges or users (or at the very least, come into suspicion or closer scrutiny). This is where ZCash and other privacy-oriented alternatives come in handy, and it is their very aforementioned anonymity (as opposed to Bitcoin’s pseudonymity) that actually does make them fungible. Now a small amount of the miners’ rewards for mining is returned to the creators of Zcash - The Zcash Company, but while other currencies often compared to it, such as Monero are community-driven, this secure and consistent type of funding allows for an active and well-supplied constant research and development effort, which only serves to bolster Zcash as it rises to the top of the crypto market. And if I may remind our readers, security can go a long way in such a flexible and wavering market, as grand as it is, both literally and figuratively.
It is a daunting market to get yourself into the crypto game. But for better or worse it is the future. An uncertain, turbulent future, but the future nonetheless. That’s why we make it our priority to provide you with the latest information and plenty of links to useful websites and applications, so it can seem that little bit less scary. It is the forefront of innovation, behind the crypto message boards and market chart graphs that look like a Jackson Pollock painting, lie the foundations upon which it is all built - years of programming and code, developed by the world’s smartest programmers, mathematicians, businessmen and even psychologists in some cases. And you don’t have to have a PhD to join in, just enthusiasm and patience and ask yourself, are those two not great qualities in any situation?