What do cryptocurrency buffs want most? 

The first thing is probably to get rich quick, but a close second is likely privacy—a way to transact in crypto without revealing their identities.

And the latter is something that the developers behind Decred (DCR), a community-driven digital currency, have been working to perfect for the last two years.

Yesterday, Decred unveiled the privacy features that its developers have been quietly working to add to the coin since 2017. And running on only a few hundred lines of code, which purportedly makes it less prone to errors or transactional problems, Decred’s project lead Jake Yocom-Piatt tells Decrypt that this makes Decred a “more effective” alternative to privacy coins like Monero and Zcash.

According to Yocom-Piatt, Decred differs from competing privacy coins in several ways. While other coins like Monero and Zcash may offer stronger privacy, it’s Decred’s simplicity that it’s secret sauce. To illustrate, Yocom-Piatt explained that most privacy coins offer two levels of privacy. The first involves obfuscating the senders, while the second is obfuscating how much they’re sending. For now, Decred only hides the sender's identity.

But what really differentiates Decred is how it does the obfuscating:

“Decred’s approach to hiding transactions leverages its steady substantial volume of ticket transactions, which makes it easier and more effective to hide the sender’s identity within the shuffle of governance participation,” said Yocom-Piatt. “Decred’s initial implementation addresses who is sending money to whom, meaning that for the initial implementation, privacy will be similar with that of Monero pre-confidential transactions.”

Users’ identities are also hidden through Decred’s servers which jumble transactions and keep customer data private. On top of that, Decred requires no ring signatures or zero-knowledge proofs. The total quantity of coins is also always auditable, so no silent inflation can ever occur, Yocom-Piatt explained.

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Decred’s privacy implementation is based upon the CoinShuffle++ paper “P2P Mixing and Unlinkable Bitcoin Transactions” by Ruffing, Moreno-Sanchez, and Kate from August 2016, which was a follow-up to these same authors’ 2014 CoinShuffle paper. ChoinShuffle++ has been integrated into Decred such that it offers opt-in privacy on all transactions, including stakeholders buying tickets, along with non-staking coin holders.

“I’m excited to make this work public and deliver an initial release of privacy to our stakeholders in a way that can benefit all Decred users,” said Yocom-Piatt. Decred’s project lead also encouraged more technical users to test the DCR code, which is available on GitHub. “This code has received substantial testing on testnet throughout its development, so it should be quite stable already,” he said.

As for what’s next, Yocom-Piatt explained that Decred’s developers are currently planning to obfuscate transaction amounts as well. “Confidential transactions (bulletproofs) are an established method to hide transaction amounts,” he said. “So, this would be the natural next step.”