Overwinter is just the Beginning for Zcash

| Publish date: 03/23/2018 (Last updated: March 23, 2018 04:45 PM)

Coindesk reports that the cryptocurrency Zcash is now gearing up for its first hard fork, slated to take place later this year in June. This hard fork has been dubbed Overwinter and is generating a lot of excitement in the community.

What to Expect

Hard forks are usually associated with bitter arguments about the protocol and the direction it needs to take – and also the excitement of free new coins. However, this time, there are no – well few – arguments or disagreements.

According to Zooko Wilcox, the founder and CEO of Zerocoin Electric Company, the company that developed the Zcash network, the main purpose of this hard fork for the developers to practice doing upgrades. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be upgrades; there are. It’s just that the company is actually laying the groundwork for much more dramatic upgrades to the system in the future.

Right now, the developer team’s energy is focused on ensuring that there are absolutely no glitches in Overwinter. The team is also educating the Zcash community about the entire hard fork process as it happens, so that they can forward in the future.

The first new feature, though Wilcox calls it a precaution rather than a feature, is replay protection. This means that if a user carries out a transaction on the old chain, then it will not be replicated on the new one. Wilcox feels that is not going to really make much of difference since the expectation is that the entire community is going to want to move to the new chain.

The main change to the blockchain will be something called transaction expiry. This change is causing some debate within the community. Transactions expiry is going to be a mechanism that will ensure that transactions more than one hour old will expire. Many times, transactions get stuck and are held in limbo because a user may not have paid enough transaction fees for the miners to add the transaction to the blockchain.


The debate on this upgrade is about security. Those opposing this upgrade say that cancelling transactions could lead to security issues. However, Wilcox feels it will do exactly the opposite; this new feature will stop users from losing money if they send a transaction to the wrong chain by mistake.


The last major upgrade to the blockchain will be to fix the signature verification performance. Zcash is an offshoot of Bitcoin’s code. And, according to Wilcox, the blockchain inherited a bug from Bitcoin where if signatures are verified using UTXOs (unspent transaction output), it takes too long. This fix is supposed to remove that bug.

The Future

While Wilcox is expecting this upgrade to the system to go without any serious hitches, he expects there to be more resistance to future upgrades. The next hard fork upgrade – names Sapling – will see more upgrades such as speeding up transactions and ensuring that the privacy that Zcash is famous for is maintained.


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