Horizen Global: A global blockchain platform and coin with extensive DApp capabilities
Horizen is a decentralized, partially anonymous blockchain platform that supports the cryptocurrency Zen and other DApps — Horizen was created to provide a secure platform with transaction funding, media, and messaging capabilities. The Horizen platform is a rebranding/brand expansion of the Zen ecosystem, and just recently occurred in August 2018. This rebranding is at the base of a brand expansion that will place a greater emphasis on the use cases of Zen technology outside of the well-known cryptocurrency Zen. Some of Horizen’s additional offerings include ZenChat, ZenHide, and ZenPub (which is in development).
Horizen (former Zencash) originated in May 2017 as a fork of ZClassic (itself a fork of ZCash). The network is similar to ZCash in that it uses a zero knowledge proof algorithm (zk-SNARKS) to solve privacy and fungibility problems experienced by other coins, however it contains some fundamentally different features which this article will dive into. It’s also important to note that Zen is part of the Horizen ecosystem, which includes ZenChat and other DApps the Zen team is working on.
The coin was built on the equihash mining algorithm, and uses zero-knowledge Succinct non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge (zk-SNARK) proofing. This feature enables shielded addresses and transactions, but does so in an optional way, meaning senders or receivers of Zen can shield their addresses/transaction amounts, even if the other party involved doesn’t want to do so. Another feature of zero knowledge proofs is that they essentially allow users to prove the validity of a secret without actually knowing the secret, unlike public ledger blockchains that display transaction amounts and addresses.
Although Zen uses zk-SNARKS like its predecessor ZCash, there are some distinct differences between the two coins. Notably, the payout structure of Zen is different than ZCash — ZCash contains a “Founders’ Reward”, which awards 20% of block reward proceeds to the developers for the first four years of the coin’s life, and 10% thereafter. Zen however awards 70% to miners, 10% to operations/developers, 10% to secure node operators, and 10% to super node developers.
Secure Nodes & Super Nodes
Horizen uses secure and super nodes, in addition to normal nodes. Secure nodes are similar to normal nodes in that they verify distributed ledger transactions, however there are some key differences. In order to operate a Horizen secure node, an operator must possess at least 42 Zen, which acts as a source of collateral — there is much less incentive to attack a network in which you have funds invested in as the attack is highly likely to decrease the value of those funds. Additionally, secure node operators must meet processor, memory, and reliability minimums, which can be found on the Horizen website. These nodes are required to run and maintain a full copy of the Horizen blockchain at all times.
Super nodes are like juiced-up versions of secure nodes — they also require processing, memory, and reliability minimums, however to a greater extent. Super node operators require 8GB of RAM, 96% reliability, and a reserve of 500 Zen. This greater collateral commitment further ensures that super node operators have serious skin in the game, with the value of 500 Zen at roughly $10K USD.
These higher level nodes allow for greater ability for community voting and governance, as best interests are verified and malicious actors are kept to a minimum.
Shielded and Unshielded Transactions
As mentioned, one of the features of ZCash and Horizen is the ability to process both shielded and unshielded transactions. This gives users the ability to shield their address/transaction amount if they please, while the other party can choose to remain public. This contrasts to a network like Monero, where all transactions are shielded and anonymous.
DApps and Other Initiatives
One of the most exciting and promising developments within the Horizen ecosystem has been the prevalence of distributed applications (DApps), which are applications that can be built on the blockchain network. DApps leverage decentralized public ledger technology to ensure secure, encrypted application platforms that use blockchain technologies such as smart contracts to ensure consensus verification of actions.
Horizen’s DApps include ZenChat, a secure messaging platform, ZenPub, an anonymous document publisher, and ZenHide, a domain fronting platform. ZenChat provides the ability to incorporate encrypted messages alongside verified ledger transactions, encrypted using AES-256 and the Perfect Forward Secrecy protocol. Zen technically is another DApp for currency exchange — it uses the same technology, although cryptocurrencies are typically perceived as a separate “form” of DApp than utility tokens.
- Proposal submission and voting system GUI
- iOS wallet
- OpenBazaar Integration
- Secure node system improvements
- Super node implementation
- Domain fronting
2019 & Beyond
- DAO Treasury Protocol-level Voting System
- Dandelion++ Integration for Network Stack Anonymity
- Scalability Solution
- IPFS published on Secure Nodes
It’s our humble opinion that Horizen is a premier cryptocurrency if you’re a miner — as with Monero, the dev team places an emphasis on egalitarian mining and ASIC-resistance. Although Horizen doesn’t schedule hard forks as Monero does with biannual forks, the development team is open to updating to mitigate ASIC threats. As mentioned before, normal miners currently receive 70% of block rewards, with secure nodes receiving 10%, super nodes another 10%, and the core development team/treasury receiving the remaining 10%.
As a miner you will also benefit from the increasing prevalence of Horizen’s DApps that were mentioned above!
Horizen was added as the 8th pool in the Luxor network, and is a true 3% PPS pool. Click here to join Luxor’s Horizen pool, here for more info on PPS mining, and here for more info on Luxor Technologies.
At Luxor we’re fortunate to get an opportunity to sit down with Rowan, Horizen’s Director of Business Development. He provided a variety of insightful comments on Horizen and where it is heading. You can find the Q&A here.
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