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Privacy on Ethereum: Aztec Protocol Launches on Mainnet

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Privacy on Ethereum is now possible through Aztec, a project using zero knowledge cryptography derived from Zcash to hide amounts for private tokens.

The Aztec privacy network has officially launched on the Ethereum blockchain on Feb. 1. Using Zcash-based technology, it introduces confidential tokens where all amounts are cryptographically hidden.

The network is currently in limited deployment as it only supports zkDai, a private version of Maker’s stablecoin. Other zero knowledge tokens are set to be released in the coming weeks, while full access to custom token creation will be granted in two months, the company says.

The Aztec protocol, just like Zcash (ZEC), uses Zk-SNARKs to validate encrypted transactions. When generating a transfer, a proof of correctness is generated as the amount gets encrypted. 

The system hinges on Aztec’s Cryptography Engine smart contract, which can be used to validate the transactions. The contract is based on a system of “notes,” which are generally used in a Bitcoin-like structure of inputs and outputs. Unlike Zcash, however, Aztec currently does not hide the money’s sender and recipient.

Like Zcash, Aztec needed to conduct a trusted setup ceremony. This is a key requirement for all zk-SNARK implementations, as it generates a set of common parameters to ensure efficient computation.

Future developments would make smart contracts private 

Aztec’s goal is to deliver its “Triptych of privacy,” which would completely hide a particular portion of the Ethereum blockchain. The next step is to hide senders and recipients, while the final achievement is making smart contracts completely private. 

Aztec’s CEO Thomas Walton-Pocock revealed to Cointelegraph that this may occur as early as this year:

“Our priority is to deploy PLONK to ACE in 2020. PLONK is the superfast Universal SNARK developed by AZTEC CTO Zac Williamson and AZTEC Chief Scientist Ariel Gabizon, which will eventually allow private smart contracts to execute with just one trusted setup.”

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