Zcash’s “Sapling” Update Will Add New Features Amidst Community Conflict

Zcash has revealed details about its next update, “Sapling,” which is scheduled for October 28th, 2018. The Sapling update will make transactions on shielded addresses much more efficient and lighter on resources. The new shielded addresses will perform transactions in just seconds while consuming minimal resources. However, the update follows conflicts between Zcash’s corporate side and its community of developers — is it enough?

New Features

Zcash is a privacy coin, a type of altcoin that became increasingly prominent in early 2017. Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies exist on a publicly viewable blockchain, but with privacy coins like Zcash, only some parts of the blockchain are public.

Zcash allows users to hide many aspects of a transaction, such as addresses and transaction amounts, which cannot be seen without a private viewing key. The Sapling update will make viewing keys more versatile; currently, this feature exists for incoming transactions, but Sapling will add the feature to outgoing transactions.

Memory use is another improvement. Until now, most Zcash transactions have used transparent addresses due to the fact that shielded addresses were resource-intensive — requiring over 3 gigabytes of memory. Sapling’s lightweight shielded addresses are of special interest to developers with hardware limitations such as “exchanges, mobile wallet providers, vendors and other 3rd parties.”

Finally, the Sapling update will provide two other features that are useful for organizations and enterprises that work on a large scale: decoupled spend authorities that allow for parts of a transaction to be split across different hardware; and wallets with the capacity to receive simultaneous transactions to trillions of addresses.

Development Hell?

Zcash made the news during its last update and hard fork, called “Overwinter,”  in June when D. Jane Mercer, the independent developer of the Zcash Windows client, demanded money. Mercer threatened to cease development of the client and to split from the blockchain with a rebranded coin:

 “Rock and a hard place you know,” Mercer said, explaining the pressure he put on the community. “Overwinter is coming, and you got an Overwinter wallet but it’s gonna deprecate sometime between Overwinter and Sapling, so how am I going to get to Sapling?”

While Sapling will offer useful features, there are undeniable tensions between Zcash’s corporate team and its community developers; CEO Zooco Wilcox has even said that the Overwinter hard fork was mainly an exercise to practice a smooth update process, and that even more dramatic updates are in Zcash’s future. It is dubious whether objectively better features are enough to unite an undercompensated community that is partially responsible for adapting to said features.


Following the announcement, the Zcash price quickly rose 15%, from about $158 to $183. At the time of posting this article, it currently sits at $175.27.

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