What Is Horizen Network?
Horizen (formerly called ZenCash) is a privacy-focused, zk-SNARKs based blockchain platform that forked from Zclassic, itself a Zcash fork. The Horizen network includes a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), ZenChat (a private messenger), ZenPub (an anonymous publishing platform), and ZenHide (TOR-like endpoint masking). ZEN is the native cryptocurrency coin used by the Horizen network.
Privacy and security seem like niche topics only discussed by tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists, but cybersecurity is a major concern in today’s world.
Norton estimates 60 million Americans have been impacted by identity theft and the U.S. will account for half of worldwide data breached by 2023. And it’s not your personal computer that’s being attacked, especially in a cloud-based world.
Accounts we hold with trusted companies like Amazon, Google, Sony, Microsoft, Equifax, Visa, and the U.S. government are the databases criminals want. And these major players have a lot of data security rules to abide by. Europe’s GDPR and even new U.S. privacy laws, along with international Safe Harbor laws, dole out hefty fines and other consequences for allowing data breaches – although not hefty enough to actually make their behavior change, it sometimes seems.
With the stakes so high, Horizen pivoted its focus to enterprise applications. Nobody needs more security and privacy than these organizations, and they have deep enough pockets to spend whatever it takes to stay running in a technology-run society.
Before exploring Horizon’s nuts and bolts, along with its chances of achieving sustainable success, let’s review ZEN, the proprietary cryptocurrency used in the Horizen blockchain, and its performance on the cryptocurrency market.
ZenCash (ZEN) Cryptocurrency Summary
There’s a total supply of 21,000,000 ZEN. The peak price so far of ZEN was $65.16 on January 9, 2018.
No Horizen ICO was held. Instead, Horizen (then known as ZenCash) forked from Zclassic (ZCL) on May 23, 2017 at block 110,000. At this time, ZEN was issued to ZCL holders at a 1:1 ratio.
ZEN is mined using the Equihash Proof-of-Work (PoW) mining algorithm. The block reward is set at 12.5 ZEN, with a block mined approximately every 2.5 minutes. Rewards half approximately every four years and are distributed with 20 percent split evenly between Secure Nodes and Super Nodes (which we’ll outline in the next section), while 10 percent goes to the Horizen/ZenCash team treasury, and the remaining 70 percent rewarded to miners.
Secure nodes act as master nodes and require staking 42 ZEN. Unlike other similar projects, it also secures the nodes by using end-to-end encryption, similar to what you’d find in [some] popular messengers.
ZenCash is traded on a wide variety of cryptocurrency exchange markets, including Binance, Bittrex, DragonEX, Upbit, OKEx, Sistemkoin, and COSS. ZEN trading pairs include BTC, ETH, and USDT.
ZenCash uses commercial content distribution networks (CDN) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) to ensure secure transfers. It also uses the same zero-knowledge Non-Interactive Arguments of Knowledge (zk-SNARKS) cryptography that ZCash does. This means ZEN transactions can be both pseudonymous and anonymous, providing the highest levels of privacy and security.
There are also criticisms against the protocol, ranging from rumors of a possible Zerocoin backdoor (the predecessor of the zk-SNARK powered Zerocash), to the necessity of conducting a “trusted setup”, an encryption key generation event that could allow the creation of unlimited coins if compromised.
Horizen has a variety of official ZenCash cryptocurrency wallets, including the Arizen and Swing wallets, web, mobile, and paper wallets. It’s also supported by Ledger hardware wallets.
Achieving a ZEN-like State on the Blockchain
As discussed above, Horizen is selling itself as a full-suite of blockchain-based tools for enterprise. The four key functions (so far) are:
- ZenCash – The original aim of Zcash was to be an anonymous financial tool, and that tool is still available in Horizen. It has simply been expanded upon to provide a full suite of options for enterprise users.
- ZenPub – Publishing documents can be a risky (and often difficult) business in many countries. Even in the U.S., where freedom of press is among the first Constitutionally guaranteed rights, journalists can be silenced. ZenPub uses anonymized addresses to publish documents to IPFS to ensure an open and free press is always maintained.
- ZenChat – Our communications are constantly monitored, and ZenChat uses AES-256 encryption for transaction of end-to-end encrypted messages.
- ZenHide – Countries like China setup firewalls that can block processing to essential disable a cryptocurrency within its geographic borders. ZenHide uses proxy-like technology to pass data through HTTPS to bypass such restrictions.
Secure nodes on the Horizen blockchain ensure all network communication remains encrypted. They maintain the network and provide secure tunnels for encrypted Horizen data to pass through. Recently they also introduced Super Nodes, which will serve as a supporting network for future sidechains.
This type of security has a wide range of enterprise and governmental use cases, and even Charles Hoskinson and IOHK have had their sights set on Horizen, with the two companies signing a partnership.
Horizen isn’t your typical privacy coin – instead of catering to privacy advocates like Edward Snowden, they provide a full suite of secure and private tools for use by the institutions he despises. The success of Horizen hinges on these key blockchain features.
- Horizen includes four main tools – ZenPub, ZenChat, ZenHide, and ZEN (ZenCash). Each is privacy focused and encrypted through secure nodes.
- ZEN is the native cryptocurrency coin utilized by the Horizen platform. ZEN is rewarded to miners and secure nodes and can be traded on the open cryptocurrency market.
- Horizen uses the same Zerocash protocol as Zcash, Zclassic, and other privacy coins, making it susceptible to the same backdoors and glitches.
With these pieces in place, Horizen is well-positioned to become a sustainable blockchain. Enterprise users are the best use-cases of the technology because they pay well over long periods of time. If the Horizen team can execute on their roadmap and deliver an SDK, ZenCash could provide peace of mind to a lot of investors.