Zcash (ZEC) is another Crypto currency like bitcoin but with a few different features. Like Bitcoin it is based on a decentralised blockchain but allows for anonymity behind transaction amounts and parties involved. In Bitcoin if you know someone's address you can follow their transactions and you can see which all the addresses and their transaction amounts - so its quite clear how much money is moving around, with ZCash all the information is encrypted.
ZCash will use Equihash as an hashing algorithm, which is an asymmetric memory-hard PoW algorithm based on the generalized birthday problem. It relies on high RAM requirements to bottleneck the generation of proofs and making ASIC development unfeasible, much like Ethereum. In order to avoid Instamine ZCash will have a slow mining start, where block rewards will be issued slowler than normal. ZCash is currently in beta stage and the testnet is live. You can mine testnet coins by following this guide: How to Mine ZCash.
A decentralized and open-source cryptocurrency that provides strong privacy protections. If Bitcoin is like http for money, Zcash is https—a secure transport layer.
Zcash is the first widespread application of zk-SNARKs, a novel form of zero-knowledge cryptography. The strong privacy guarantee of Zcash is derived from the fact that shielded transactions in Zcash can be fully encrypted on the blockchain, yet still be verified as valid under the network’s consensus rules by using zk-SNARK proofs.
The acronym zk-SNARK stands for “Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge,” and refers to a proof construction where one can prove possession of certain information, e.g. a secret key, without revealing that information, and without any interaction between the prover and verifier.
“Zero-knowledge” proofs allow one party (the prover) to prove to another (the verifier) that a statement is true, without revealing any information beyond the validity of the statement itself. For example, given the hash of a random number, the prover could convince the verifier that there indeed exists a number with this hash value, without revealing what it is.
Application to ZCASH
In order to have zero-knowledge privacy in Zcash, the function determining the validity of a transaction according to the network’s consensus rules must return the answer of whether the transaction is valid or not, without revealing any of the information it performed the calculations on. This is done by encoding some of the network's consensus rules in zk-SNARKs. At a high level, zk-SNARKs work by first turning what you want to prove into an equivalent form about knowing a solution to some algebraic equations. In the following section, we give a brief overview of how the rules for determining a valid transaction get transformed into equations that can then be evaluated on a candidate solution without revealing any sensitive information to the parties verifying the equations.