Block-chain-invest.com: To start, can you tell us more about your background and give us the reasons why we want to work on the Zclassic project?
Zclassic: I’m currently a PhD candidate in finance focusing on cryptofinance, asset pricing, and innovation; my former career spanned being a military officer, physicist, technical project manager, and some other fun roles that got me out and about in the world. I’m also teaching a “Bitcoin & Blockchain Applications in Finance” course @UofSC, heading up BlockPay’s U.S. & Canada Ambassador program, and helping out with the ZClassic project. I was drawn to ZClassic because I fundamentally believe that privacy is a human right and what we’re doing here is important for society. If you want to learn more about me or stay in touch you can find me on twitter (@robviglione) or check out my blog.
Can you tell us a bit about the history of the Zclassic project?
Shortly after ZCash launched, @heyrhett forked the project into ZClassic with a Bitcointalk Announcement on November 6, 2016. Our humble origins involved two simple modifications to ZCash: removing the 20% “Founders Reward” and removing the “slow start” feature of ZCash that was perceived as artificially engineering scarcity to create trading buzz.
In this world of crypto coins, where there are more than 900 altcoins, what is for you the particularity and the wealth of ZCLASSIC?
ZClassic is an implementation of the innovative « Zerocash » protocol that provides unprecedented transaction privacy. Based on Bitcoin’s code, it offers a far higher standard of privacy through a sophisticated zero-knowledge proving scheme that preserves confidentiality of transaction metadata. Starting as a hardfork from ZCash, the ZClassic community has striven from the start to preserve egalitarian distribution of the coin supply by removing the controversial “Founder’s Reward” that diverts 20% of mining rewards to a group of early insiders. As a separate community, we have the freedom to experiment with different blockchain parameters and governance models while working symbiotically with the ZCash community in expanding freedom of privacy in the economic domain.
What are the objectives of Zclassic for 2017?
Our first and largest objective was to execute a hardfork from ZCash, which was extremely successful. We’ve been undergoing a similar set of challenges as every other new blockchain project in continuously improving our codebase, growing a new user community, attracting mining hash power, and generally just getting the word out about who we are and what we’re all about. What we’re working on now very actively is on wallet development; the first release was for Linux, but we’ve recently launched Mac and PC wallets that are available for download. Now that our wallets are available for all popular operating systems, we’ll be looking to get ZCL listed on as many credible cryptocurrency exchanges as possible. Additionally, we’re evaluating a variety of proposals to adopt best practices we’ve seen in other cryptocurrencies, such as Dash, particularly in governance and for funding continued development in a flexible way that enables equitable stakeholder decision-making.
What is Zclassic vision for the future?
Our vision is to provide the technology that enables financial privacy as a human right.
What is your plan to make Zclassic known and enable it to achieve its objectives?
The core of our marketing plan has always been creating superior products that organically attract users. Now that we’ve successfully established the basics, we’re going to focus on getting ZCL listed for trade on several popular exchanges, and then launch a coordinated marketing strategy using both traditional and new channels, such as Steemit.
What is the current functioning of the team? (Number of people, distribution of roles, needs)
It’s hard to tell exactly since we’re an open source project open to anyone who wants to participate. What I can say is that we have 750+ users in our Slack community after just a couple of months, a few dozen of us actively working the project in a variety of collaborative capacities, and so far 7 active contributors to our code base. Maybe this is a good opportunity to anyone reading this interested in our project to come participate!
We often talk about the problems of governance and economic model in crypto currencies. What is the governance and economic model within the Zclassic project?
We’re learning the hard way in the cryptocurrency community that good governance is a major feature that carries real value in the long run. How the network aligns incentives to reward beneficial behavior and curb unproductive or even destructive actions is critical. Fundamentally, we are all about decentralized and egalitarian decision-making, but it’s clear that that is easier said than done! Projects can stagnate without good governance and we are acutely aware that it will be a non-trivial contribution to our future success. Thus far we have worked as a voluntary meritocracy where resources have naturally gravitated towards those doing the most to advance the project; however, we’re seriously considering adopting best practices we see in other projects, most notably Dash.
In monetary projects, there is a greater confidence and therefore a longer life on community projects, without premine and without taxes? Litecoin or monero for example. Do you think that a monetary project in the form of an enterprise is a real problem for the future?
The whole point of ZClassic’s hardfork from ZCash was that we wanted a more egalitarian monetary experiment without the same 20% diversion of mining rewards to a predetermined group of insiders. That said, there’s good reason for ZCash’s allocation to the Founder’s Reward and that is exactly what its name suggests; an economic reward to those who invested monetary or sweat equity into launching and subsequently sustaining the project. As with most things in life, it’s a balancing act of pros and cons. Removing the Founders Reward means we have to figure out other sustainable funding models for continued development and code maintenance. As to which model will prove to work better is TBD, but the market is lucky to be able to see both approaches in real time.
For me, a community model without premine and without taxes, has the advantage of being more resilient, creating more confidence, but on the other hand, governance is very complicated, and innovation much slower.
What do you think about this? Is there a perfect model or a better model for a monetary project than today?
You’re absolutely right in framing this as a tradeoff! There’s likely no completely right model to suit all projects in all circumstances; things change and what’s more important is adaptability than guessing at the right approach ex ante. Thus far we have been able to making significant progress through donations and volunteer time contributions; this may not be sustainable or the winning model for the highly competitive and dynamic landscape that we see in cryptocurrencies. We have several proposals in consideration for how to enhance our governance, provide fair allocation of development resources, and even just how to obtain those resources in the first place. Stay tuned and you’ll likely be hearing about more of these ideas soon!
Legislation is evolving in the world on the subject of anonymous crypto. Do you think that anonymous coins will really be able to exist in 10 years? This can cause problems for state taxes. What is your opinion on the future of crypto anonymous currencies?
It will certainly be interesting to see how legislation evolves around cryptocurrencies. Our community comes from all over the planet and we fundamentally respect the human right to financial privacy. That said, regulation varies significantly across countries and it is certainly likely that some jurisdictions will be more open to our type of product than others. Our best guess is that the evolution will resemble policy responses to VPNs and Tor. We do not advocate anyone put themselves at risk if they live in hostile legal environments to privacy-centric cryptocurrency, but it is also clear that people living in these types of repressive regimes might benefit most from having access to our technology. There will always be a demand for privacy and so it is reasonable to think there will always be a demand for enabling technologies.
Do you think there can be many anonymous currencies in the future? Dash, monero, zcash, zcoin, navcoin, blackcoin, aeon, boolberry, shadowscash, … and I forget .. What could be for you the landscape of anonymous coins in 5/10 or 20 years?
Our perspective is that the more competitors in the privacy-centric cryptocurrency landscape the better! Society benefits from competition and in a fully open environment like exists in cryptocurrencies, there will never be a single dominant solution immune from disruption. Each project offers its own variation in value proposition, code type and parameters, user community, human talent, and even use case niche that need not exactly overlap.
What projects do you value most in crypto coins? And why?
We all owe everything to Bitcoin for ushering in the crypto revolution, but there’s a ton to be learned from at least a dozen other unique projects. Obviously, as a fork of ZCash we owe a lot to those guys and hope to provide value in return over time via directly porting our innovations to their community or indirectly raising awareness for what we’re both offering society.
What is your feeling about the future of bitcoin? And ethereum?
Bitcoin is already a tremendous success and has blown past nearly all original expectations. There are so many extremely smart, talented, and motivated people working on that project that it would be only rational to expect the amazing innovations to continue. The same thing can be said of Ethereum and we should all be excited to see both projects evolve.
Thank you very much to the Zclassic team!
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