Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the frequently asked questions that the Foundation tends to receive. If you can’t find an answer to a question you might have, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at contact@zfnd.org.

FAQ zcash_foundation

Table of Contents

The Zcash Foundation was founded in 2017. Learn more about the purpose of the Foundation here.

Information on the Zcash Foundation’s funding can be found here.

The Zcash Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity under section 170 (b) (1) (A) (vi) of IRS code, incorporated in the US state of Delaware. We are required to comply with federal tax law as well as applicable state law.

The Zcash Foundation is governed by a five member independent board of directors who are elected by the ZCAP for one year terms, plus the Executive Director, making it a six member board. The board is responsible for:

 

  • Duty of Care: Ensure prudent use of all assets, including facility, people, and good will;

 

  • Duty of Loyalty: Ensure that activities and transactions are, first and foremost, advancing the Zcash Foundation’s mission; Recognize and disclose conflicts of interest; Make decisions that are in the best interest of the nonprofit corporation; not in the best interest of the individual board member (or any other individual or for-profit entity).

 

  • Duty of Obedience: Ensure applicable laws and regulations are obeyed; bylaws are followed; and stated purposes/mission are adhered to.

 

  • The board also sets strategic direction for the Zcash Foundation and provides guidance on a wide range of governance and technical subjects. Board members are volunteers (uncompensated).

As a protocol, Zcash is governed by the Zcash Improvement Proposal process. The ZIP process provides an open venue and structure for collectively evaluating changes to Zcash.

 

Anyone can submit a draft ZIP. Draft ZIPs are debated by the community at large, then accepted or rejected by the ZIP editors. Currently there are two ZIP editors — Daira Hopwood represents the Electric Coin Company and Deirdre Connolly represents the Zcash Foundation.

 

Decisions from the ZIP process are written into the Zcash specification, as well as the software that runs the network. The changes are “ratified” on-chain when the majority of the network adopts the upgrade and doesn’t break consensus.

If you have any questions about the Zcash Foundation’s work or the Zcash ecosystem as a whole, please email us at contact@zfnd.org

The Zcash Foundation is currently focusing its efforts on two key programs: Zebra and FROST.

Zebra is the Zcash Foundation’s independent, consensus-compatible implementation of a Zcash node, written in memory safe Rust language. It can be used to join the Zcash peer-to-peer network which contributes to the resilience of the Zcash network by validating and broadcasting transactions and maintaining the Zcash blockchain state, in a distributed manner. 

 

How is Zebra different?

The original Zcash node is named zcashd and is developed by the Electric Coin Company as a fork of the original Bitcoin node. Zebra, on the other hand, is an independent Zcash node implementation developed from scratch. Since they implement the same protocol, zcashd and Zebra nodes can communicate with each other and maintain the Zcash network interoperably.

 

What are the benefits of running Zebra?

 

  1. Better performance: since it was implemented from scratch in an async, parallelized way, Zebra is currently faster than zcashd.
  2. Better security: since it is developed in a memory-safe language (Rust), Zebra is less likely to be affected by memory-safety and correctness security bugs that could compromise the environment where it is run.
  3. Better governance: with a new node deployment, there will be more developers who can implement different features for the Zcash network.
  4. Dev accessibility: supports more developers, which gives new developers options for contributing to Zcash protocol development.
  5. Runtime safety: with an independent implementation, the detection of consensus bugs can happen quicker, reducing the risk of consensus splits.
  6. Spec safety: with several node implementations, it is much easier to notice bugs and ambiguity in protocol specification.
  7. User options: different nodes present different features and tradeoffs for users to decide on their preferred options.
  8. Additional contexts: wider target deployments for people to use a consensus node in more contexts e.g. mobile, wasm, etc.

 

When will Zebra be able to fully participate in the Zcash network?

It is anticipated that Zebra will be able to fully participate in the Zcash network upon the activation of NU5 Mainnet, in the beginning of 2022. 

 

How can I install and run Zebra?

Zebra is still under development, so there is no supported packaging or install mechanism. To install and run Zebra, follow the following instructions.

 

Where can I find the user and developer documentation for Zebra? 

    • This section contains details on how to install, run, and instrument Zebra.
    • This section contains the contribution guide and design documentation for Zebra.

FROST is a Flexible Round-Optimized Schnorr Threshold signature scheme designed to reduce the interaction between participants who jointly own a private signing key and wish to use this private key to sign a message (in the case of Zcash, FROST will be used to sign transactions from joint owners of a signing key). 

FROST is a collaboration between the Zcash Foundation and the University of Waterloo.

 

What was our motivation in designing FROST?

 

The motivation to design FROST was simple. Because the mission of the Zcash Foundation is to build and deploy privacy-enhancing technologies for the public good, we work to ensure that using Zcash is as private and secure as possible. As part of this goal, Zcash transactions should be publicly indistinguishable- i.e, an adversary observing the blockchain should not be able to gain any information about who the payment is for, how much the payment is, or who authorized the payment.

 

While the above goals are achieved in Zcash in a single-party setting due to the use of ZK-SNARKS, Zcash previously did not have a good mechanism to achieve this goal in a multi-party setting, where a group of users want to jointly control funds and authorize transactions. 

 

Prior to FROST, the best protocols to perform this signing process required either undesirable implementation complexity, high network overheads to perform signing operations, the inability to support a threshold number of signers, or undesirable privacy leaks such as exposing the number of signers.

 

Consequently, our decision to design a new threshold scheme stemmed from the desire to improve the state of threshold signature research to match the needs of Zcash users today. Specifically, we needed to ensure that performing multi-party signing operations could be both performant, secure, and indistinguishable from transactions signed by only a single party. 

 

Further, we wanted to ensure that users could perform threshold signing operations (such that out of N authorized signers, only T need to participate in the signing protocol to issue a valid signature, where T< N), as such designs allow for greater redundancy and failure recovery in the case that a share is lost or one participant cannot (or refuses to) participate in the signing operation.

 

What are the benefits of using FROST over other Schnorr-based threshold signature protocols?

 

  1. Low round complexity in both the distributed key-generation and signing phases. The distributed key generation phase can be completed in 2 rounds. The signing phase can be completed in less or equal to 3 rounds depending on whether we use a signature aggregator role and a preprocessing stage. 
  2. Concurrent security. The signing phase is secure when performed concurrently. That is, an unlimited number of signature operations can be performed in parallel. In contrast with other threshold Schnorr signature protocols, there are existing Schnorr-based threshold signature protocols, such as [GJKR03, SS01], that have the same round complexity, but they suffer from limited concurrency to protect against the attack of Drijvers et al. [DEF19].
  3. Secure against dishonest majority. FROST is secure against adversaries which control up to t-1 signers in the signing phase.
  4. Simple cryptographic building blocks and assumptions. FROST is built upon the threshold Shamir secret sharing and Feldman verifiable secret sharing schemes and it relies only on the discrete logarithm assumption.

 

What stage of development is FROST currently in?

FROST is a proposed IETF standard, on the path towards adoption and standardization. Industry leaders such as Coinbase are looking into bringing it into production. 

 

How can I report security issues?

Our community members can report security issues by emailing us at security@zfnd.org

 

How can I give feedback to the engineering team?

Feedback on our work can be emailed to engineers@zfnd.org. We rely on your feedback to improve our work and we thank you in advance for it.

 

Feedback on our work can be emailed to engineers@zfnd.org. We rely on your feedback to improve our work and we thank you in advance for it.

Yes! The Zcash Foundation grants program is by invitation only, either via direct outreach to partners or via competitive Request For Proposal (RFP) processes.

The Zcash Community Grants committee was created by Zcash community members, via ZIP 1014, to “fund independent teams entering the Zcash ecosystem, to perform major ongoing development (or other work) for the public good of the Zcash ecosystem.” ZIP 1014 further stipulates that “funds shall be received and administered by ZF (Zcash Foundation)” as a restricted donation in accordance with the terms provided in the ZIP. 

Zcash Community Grants is organized as a technical advisory committee within the Zcash Foundation organization and members are elected by the Zcash Community Advisory Panel (ZCAP) via a formal election process.

Zcash Community Grants reviews grant applications on a rolling basis. You can learn more about them and the grant request and funding process here.

The Zcash Community Advisory Panel (ZCAP) is a panel of community members who are eligible to take part in advisory polls conducted by the Zcash Foundation.

 

The ZCAP was originally formed in 2018 as a community governance panel. It was expanded in 2019, 2020, and most recently in June 2021. It has provided input on the appointment of Zcash Foundation board members, was instrumental in the governance process that resulted in ZIP 1014 (which established the Dev Fund), and elects the Zcash Open Major Grants committee members.

 

You can review the panel’s history on GitHub.

Zcash community members are expected to be kind and respectful when interacting with others within the community. Our code of conduct can be found here. 

Yes, our annual conference, Zcon, is our largest community gathering. To learn more about how to attend (virtually and/or in person) and to submit a proposal to present or speak, click here. 

 

We also have regular Community Calls that are livestreamed to YouTube and live Twitter Spaces. Follow us on Twitter and join us at the Zcash Community Forum and our Discord channels for information on upcoming events.

Reach out to us at contact@zfnd.org and let us know how you can help us fulfill our mission. If you are interested in applying for a grant, visit our Grants page.

In most cases you need written permission from the Zcash Foundation to use the Zcash logo and the word mark “Zcash” for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. Click here to learn more about the Zcash Foundation’s Trademark Policy.

If you believe you found an instance of the Zcash Foundation’s trademark(s) being used without permission please contact us via this form. We will take all necessary actions to enforce our trademark rights.

Click here to learn about what it’s like to work at the Zcash Foundation and to explore our open positions.

Stay tuned for information about the Zcash Foundation scholarship program launching in 2022!

For all media enquiries, don’t hesitate to email us at: media@zfnd.org

1. About the Zcash Foundation​

The Zcash Foundation was founded in 2017. Learn more about the purpose of the Foundation here.

Information on the Zcash Foundation’s funding can be found here.

The Zcash Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity under section 170 (b) (1) (A) (vi) of IRS code, incorporated in the US state of Delaware. We are required to comply with federal tax law as well as applicable state law.

The Zcash Foundation is governed by a five member independent board of directors who are elected by the ZCAP for one year terms, plus the Executive Director, making it a six member board. The board is responsible for:

 

  • Duty of Care: Ensure prudent use of all assets, including facility, people, and good will;

 

  • Duty of Loyalty: Ensure that activities and transactions are, first and foremost, advancing the Zcash Foundation’s mission; Recognize and disclose conflicts of interest; Make decisions that are in the best interest of the nonprofit corporation; not in the best interest of the individual board member (or any other individual or for-profit entity).

 

  • Duty of Obedience: Ensure applicable laws and regulations are obeyed; bylaws are followed; and stated purposes/mission are adhered to.

 

  • The board also sets strategic direction for the Zcash Foundation and provides guidance on a wide range of governance and technical subjects. Board members are volunteers (uncompensated).

As a protocol, Zcash is governed by the Zcash Improvement Proposal process. The ZIP process provides an open venue and structure for collectively evaluating changes to Zcash.

 

Anyone can submit a draft ZIP. Draft ZIPs are debated by the community at large, then accepted or rejected by the ZIP editors. Currently there are two ZIP editors — Daira Hopwood represents the Electric Coin Company and Deirdre Connolly represents the Zcash Foundation.

 

Decisions from the ZIP process are written into the Zcash specification, as well as the software that runs the network. The changes are “ratified” on-chain when the majority of the network adopts the upgrade and doesn’t break consensus.

If you have any questions about the Zcash Foundation’s work or the Zcash ecosystem as a whole, please email us at contact@zfnd.org

2.Engineering Projects​

The Zcash Foundation is currently focusing its efforts on two key programs: Zebra and FROST.

Zebra is the Zcash Foundation’s independent, consensus-compatible implementation of a Zcash node, written in memory safe Rust language. It can be used to join the Zcash peer-to-peer network which contributes to the resilience of the Zcash network by validating and broadcasting transactions and maintaining the Zcash blockchain state, in a distributed manner. 

 

How is Zebra different?

The original Zcash node is named zcashd and is developed by the Electric Coin Company as a fork of the original Bitcoin node. Zebra, on the other hand, is an independent Zcash node implementation developed from scratch. Since they implement the same protocol, zcashd and Zebra nodes can communicate with each other and maintain the Zcash network interoperably.

 

What are the benefits of running Zebra?

 

  1. Better performance: since it was implemented from scratch in an async, parallelized way, Zebra is currently faster than zcashd.
  2. Better security: since it is developed in a memory-safe language (Rust), Zebra is less likely to be affected by memory-safety and correctness security bugs that could compromise the environment where it is run.
  3. Better governance: with a new node deployment, there will be more developers who can implement different features for the Zcash network.
  4. Dev accessibility: supports more developers, which gives new developers options for contributing to Zcash protocol development.
  5. Runtime safety: with an independent implementation, the detection of consensus bugs can happen quicker, reducing the risk of consensus splits.
  6. Spec safety: with several node implementations, it is much easier to notice bugs and ambiguity in protocol specification.
  7. User options: different nodes present different features and tradeoffs for users to decide on their preferred options.
  8. Additional contexts: wider target deployments for people to use a consensus node in more contexts e.g. mobile, wasm, etc.

 

When will Zebra be able to fully participate in the Zcash network?

It is anticipated that Zebra will be able to fully participate in the Zcash network upon the activation of NU5 Mainnet, in the beginning of 2022. 

 

How can I install and run Zebra?

Zebra is still under development, so there is no supported packaging or install mechanism. To install and run Zebra, follow the following instructions.

 

Where can I find the user and developer documentation for Zebra? 

    • This section contains details on how to install, run, and instrument Zebra.
    • This section contains the contribution guide and design documentation for Zebra.

FROST is a Flexible Round-Optimized Schnorr Threshold signature scheme designed to reduce the interaction between participants who jointly own a private signing key and wish to use this private key to sign a message (in the case of Zcash, FROST will be used to sign transactions from joint owners of a signing key). 

FROST is a collaboration between the Zcash Foundation and the University of Waterloo.

 

What was our motivation in designing FROST?

 

The motivation to design FROST was simple. Because the mission of the Zcash Foundation is to build and deploy privacy-enhancing technologies for the public good, we work to ensure that using Zcash is as private and secure as possible. As part of this goal, Zcash transactions should be publicly indistinguishable- i.e, an adversary observing the blockchain should not be able to gain any information about who the payment is for, how much the payment is, or who authorized the payment.

 

While the above goals are achieved in Zcash in a single-party setting due to the use of ZK-SNARKS, Zcash previously did not have a good mechanism to achieve this goal in a multi-party setting, where a group of users want to jointly control funds and authorize transactions. 

 

Prior to FROST, the best protocols to perform this signing process required either undesirable implementation complexity, high network overheads to perform signing operations, the inability to support a threshold number of signers, or undesirable privacy leaks such as exposing the number of signers.

 

Consequently, our decision to design a new threshold scheme stemmed from the desire to improve the state of threshold signature research to match the needs of Zcash users today. Specifically, we needed to ensure that performing multi-party signing operations could be both performant, secure, and indistinguishable from transactions signed by only a single party. 

 

Further, we wanted to ensure that users could perform threshold signing operations (such that out of N authorized signers, only T need to participate in the signing protocol to issue a valid signature, where T< N), as such designs allow for greater redundancy and failure recovery in the case that a share is lost or one participant cannot (or refuses to) participate in the signing operation.

 

What are the benefits of using FROST over other Schnorr-based threshold signature protocols?

 

  1. Low round complexity in both the distributed key-generation and signing phases. The distributed key generation phase can be completed in 2 rounds. The signing phase can be completed in less or equal to 3 rounds depending on whether we use a signature aggregator role and a preprocessing stage. 
  2. Concurrent security. The signing phase is secure when performed concurrently. That is, an unlimited number of signature operations can be performed in parallel. In contrast with other threshold Schnorr signature protocols, there are existing Schnorr-based threshold signature protocols, such as [GJKR03, SS01], that have the same round complexity, but they suffer from limited concurrency to protect against the attack of Drijvers et al. [DEF19].
  3. Secure against dishonest majority. FROST is secure against adversaries which control up to t-1 signers in the signing phase.
  4. Simple cryptographic building blocks and assumptions. FROST is built upon the threshold Shamir secret sharing and Feldman verifiable secret sharing schemes and it relies only on the discrete logarithm assumption.

 

What stage of development is FROST currently in?

FROST is a proposed IETF standard, on the path towards adoption and standardization. Industry leaders such as Coinbase are looking into bringing it into production. 

 

How can I report security issues?

Our community members can report security issues by emailing us at security@zfnd.org

 

How can I give feedback to the engineering team?

Feedback on our work can be emailed to engineers@zfnd.org. We rely on your feedback to improve our work and we thank you in advance for it.

 

Feedback on our work can be emailed to engineers@zfnd.org. We rely on your feedback to improve our work and we thank you in advance for it.

3. Grant Programs

Yes! The Zcash Foundation grants program is by invitation only, either via direct outreach to partners or via competitive Request For Proposal (RFP) processes.

The Zcash Community Grants committee was created by Zcash community members, via ZIP 1014, to “fund independent teams entering the Zcash ecosystem, to perform major ongoing development (or other work) for the public good of the Zcash ecosystem.” ZIP 1014 further stipulates that “funds shall be received and administered by ZF (Zcash Foundation)” as a restricted donation in accordance with the terms provided in the ZIP. 

Zcash Community Grants is organized as a technical advisory committee within the Zcash Foundation organization and members are elected by the Zcash Community Advisory Panel (ZCAP) via a formal election process.

Zcash Community Grants reviews grant applications on a rolling basis. You can learn more about them and the grant request and funding process here.

4.Zcash Community​

The Zcash Community Advisory Panel (ZCAP) is a panel of community members who are eligible to take part in advisory polls conducted by the Zcash Foundation.

 

The ZCAP was originally formed in 2018 as a community governance panel. It was expanded in 2019, 2020, and most recently in June 2021. It has provided input on the appointment of Zcash Foundation board members, was instrumental in the governance process that resulted in ZIP 1014 (which established the Dev Fund), and elects the Zcash Open Major Grants committee members.

 

You can review the panel’s history on GitHub.

Zcash community members are expected to be kind and respectful when interacting with others within the community. Our code of conduct can be found here. 

Yes, our annual conference, Zcon, is our largest community gathering. To learn more about how to attend (virtually and/or in person) and to submit a proposal to present or speak, click here. 

 

We also have regular Community Calls that are livestreamed to YouTube and live Twitter Spaces. Follow us on Twitter and join us at the Zcash Community Forum and our Discord channels for information on upcoming events.

Reach out to us at contact@zfnd.org and let us know how you can help us fulfill our mission. If you are interested in applying for a grant, visit our Grants page.

5. Zcash Trademark Usage

In most cases you need written permission from the Zcash Foundation to use the Zcash logo and the word mark “Zcash” for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. Click here to learn more about the Zcash Foundation’s Trademark Policy.

If you believe you found an instance of the Zcash Foundation’s trademark(s) being used without permission please contact us via this form. We will take all necessary actions to enforce our trademark rights.

6. ZF Careers and Scholarships

Click here to learn about what it’s like to work at the Zcash Foundation and to explore our open positions.

Stay tuned for information about the Zcash Foundation scholarship program launching in 2022!

7. Media Enquiries

For all media enquiries, don’t hesitate to email us at: media@zfnd.org