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I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Rob Viglione, project lead for Horizen, formerly ZenCash. The cryptocurrency initially started as a play on Zcash with additional governance and self-funding features similar to Dash masternodes, and evolved to move away from a strict currency and payments system purpose and towards a more general blockchain and sidechain platform.

Trying to “Dashify Zcash” by adding critical missing governance and self-funding features

We spoke about how Horizen initially started as an effort to “Dashify Zcash” by adding governance and self-funding elements to zero-knowledge proof-based cryptographic transactions, replacing Zcash’s “founder’s reward” system of paying a single company from a percentage of the block reward to introducing voting for a treasury, and therefore a geater degree of decentralization and budget flexibility by becoming a DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization. This also introduces an incentivized infrastructure of paid nodes, like Dash’s masternodes, improving the robustness of the network by ensuring proper hardware and bandwidth for nodes. This follows the DAO infrastructure pioneered by Dash, which has become more common in newer cryptocurrencies.

The real threat of 51% attacks and Dash and Horizen’s respective answers

In addition to cryptocurrency governance, We also covered 51% attacks, which Horizen suffered, resulting in a large-scale theft from an exchange by using an overwhelming ratio of hashpower to reverse transactions. We then discussed methods of mitigating this threat. This included a time delay penalty currently used by Horizen, which penalizes miners who mine a chain of blocks in secret before publishing to the rest of the network in order to either rewrite the chain or simply achieve greater profits, giving an incentive to publish new blocks right away. While this does not make the network immune to 51% attacks, it makes them much harder to execute and requires a much higher percentage of the hashrate in order to become effective, far over 51%. Finally, we covered other methods including Dash’s ChainLocks, which uses the masternode network to lock in first-seen blocks on the network, invalidating any other blocks that conflict with the one chosen.

The full interview is available above.