We're happy to welcome Paige Peterson, community manager for Zcash (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zcash), and Justin Smith who's working with Monero (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monero_(cryptocurrency)).
You've probably heard that public blockchains as used in Bitcoin and Ethereum are not as anonymous and untraceable as often reported in the context of the "darknet", Silk Road, and similar topics.
And you may be aware that while crypto-currencies themselves don't care about your real-world identity, all transactions are public and linked together.
Thus it is only a question of time until some information about you can be linked to public addresses at some point, and suddenly all the algorithmic big data sorcery of today can trace everything back to you and everyone who you transact with again.
And while some may believe this is a good thing as it helps law enforcement to track down prospective criminals, it turns out that even banks and industry are not overly enthusiastic about all this publicness of information available on blockchains, and that they do require confidentiality features, and hence are very interested in various developments going on in the crypto-currency space which are trying to fix this problem.
Also from the perspective of crypto-currency purists, the lack of privacy hurts fungibility (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fungibility) and thus undermines the function of a currency.
Many of the approaches to achieve better anonymity used in various crypto-coins are "just" elaborate (i.e. built-in) mixers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin_mixer) and tumblers.
Definitely one of the more interesting approaches that has been developed and is in production already are the Ring Signatures (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_signature) that Monero uses.
Zcash is pioneering a rather new Zero-Knowledge (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-knowledge_proof)-based cryptographic primitive called zk-SNARKs (https://z.cash/technology/zksnarks.html). Both techniques will be included also in an upcoming Ethereum release.
Another interesting new approach still in the conceptual development phase is called Mimblewimble (https://www.cryptocompare.com/coins/guides/what-is-mimblewimble/) and will soon be launched as an altcoin called Grin, and later be available in a sidechain for Bitcoin.
Tonight we will get an overview about all these ongoing developments. We will also have a discussion round.
Target audience: Users and institutions interested in ongoing efforts to improve privacy, anonymity and confidentiality in crypto-currencies and blockchains, activists interested in the political debate that could be had about all this, enthusiasts and investors curious about the fundamentals of specifically Zcash and Monero, and perhaps everyone interested in cryptography in general.
Paige Peterson (https://twitter.com/ioptio) leads the community team and user education at Zcash Company (https://z.cash/) and is an Internet security and privacy activist. She previously organized the San Francisco Bitcoin Meetup and has interest in and experience with a range of p2p technologies including mesh networking and decentralized data storage.
Justin Smith (https://twitter.com/rusticbison) is a cryptofinance technologist and programmer. He started working with Bitcoin almost 5 years ago when he created a Bitcoin payment system for his own e-commerce startup and spent the last two years working with Swiss banks. As the CEO of XMR Systems, he’s an advocate of solutions built on Bitcoin and Monero technologies.
19:00 Doors open, food and beverages, socializing
19:30 Welcome from your hosts
19:45 Paige Peterson: Towards Internet Money and an Update on Zcash after 1 Year
Confidentiality in financial systems is a core property for maintaining fungibility and protecting fundamental human values. While financial privacy is a key tool in protecting against surveillance and censorship in oppressive situations, it is also a basic necessity for day to day business activity. The privacy features in Zcash set a foundation for Internet money that benefits all.
After nearly one year since the launch of Zcash, the ecosystem has evolved quickly establishing strong foundations for future growth. This presentation will reflect on the history of Zcash and a general outlook on future growth. The mission of Zcash is to become the highest standard in Internet money and to serve anyone on the globe with an Internet connection the ability to transact and do business freely and safely.
20:30 Justin Smith: The future of Swiss private banking: Monero
Switzerland’s banking sector is legendary for respecting its clients’ privacy. But that privacy is only available to very wealthy clients, and it vanishes at the first request of a foreign power. Cryptocurrency is the solution, and Bitcoin seems to be a safe bet. But while Bitcoin is useful in many ways, it’s Monero that will likely become the technology of choice for the future of private banking and wealth management.
21:00 A short primer on Mimblewimble
21:15 Short break
21:30 Discussion round, Q&A
23:00 End of official part
We're very grateful to be hosted by Blockchain Research (http://www.blockchain.tum.de/) at the Technical University of Munich (https://www.tum.de/) this time. Auditorium 0602 "Theresianum".
(Or meetup group is organized by independent enthusiasts and not affiliated with presenters, sponsors, or locations of this or previous events.)