For all the claims that have been made over the years about bitcoin being a safe haven for criminals, it’s becoming increasingly clear that capital flows on the blockchain aren’t private.
Bitcoin itself indexes poorly on both the anonymity and confidentiality fronts, as addresses offer pseudonymity at best, and balances are completely public. Companies like Elliptic and Chainalysis are building businesses around blockchain forensics, and as the network increases in value, incentives to track flows of capital only become stronger.
The rising tide of awareness about this is largely responsible for the growth in privacy coins in 2017, many of which experienced meteoric price and transaction volume increases.
To those new to the field, getting up to speed can feel like an onerous task, but it’s important to remember we’re still in the early days, and catching up on the cutting-edge is as easy as familiarizing yourself with a handful of key issues and projects likely to be of interest in the months and years ahead
There’s never a shortage of ideological differences in the world of cryptocurrencies.
As it relates to privacy, one of the biggest is whether or not techniques that keep data from being shared should be default. Emblematic of this issue are two of the sector’s biggest coins – Monero and Zcash.