Privacy Coin Comparison

How cryptocurrencies with a privacy focus stack up.

4 minute read

Introduction

There are a lot of cryptocurrencies that focus on improving privacy for their users, and it can be difficult to keep track of the pros and cons of each. Privacy coins are usually forced to make a tradeoff between strict privacy and usability. Some are faster or cost less to use. Here are the top cryptocurrencies that focus on privacy and how they compare to each other. You can click on each image below to get a more in-depth review.

Privacy

Before comparing privacy focused cryptocurrencies you need to figure out what they mean by “private”. Some coins mean they hide transaction information - how much you sent and who you sent it to - while some mean hiding your IP address on the network.

 
Monero

Zcash

Zcoin

PIVX

Nav Coin

Verge
Privacy
Technology
RingCT zk-SNARKs Zerocoin Zerocoin Dual
Blockchains
TOR
Hides Sender
Address
Hides Recipient
Address
Hides Amount Sent
Private by Default
No Rich List
IP Address Hidden
No Trusted Setup
Full Nodes
Online
2,900 1,200 1,700 2,100 280 unknown

Private by Default means that every transaction is automatically private.

Trusted Setup means that the creators had to generate some initial parameters for their coin and then destroy those parameters. If the parameters were not destroyed then it would be possible to create coins out of thin air. While Zcash had their own trusted setup ceremony, Zcash and PIVX relied on previously created parameters that they could not have had knowledge of, which may make their Trusted Setup more secure.

Full Nodes Online refers to the number of computers on the network running a full copy of the cryptocurrency’s blockchain. The more nodes online, the more decentralized a cryptocurrency is, and more decentralization means more privacy. The counts for Zcoin refers to the number of Znodes online, while the count for PIVX refers to the number of Masternodes online.

Usability

How easy a coin is to use plays a major role in its adoption, because if no one wants to use a cryptocurrency, it doesn’t matter how private it is. In general, a cryptocurrency is more usable if it has fast transactions and low fees.

 
Monero

Zcash

Zcoin

PIVX

Nav Coin

Verge
Block Time 2 minutes 2.5 minutes 10 minutes 1 minute 30 seconds 30 seconds
Private Transaction
Compute Time
1 second 60 seconds 2-3 seconds 2-3 seconds 1 second N/A
Transaction Fee
(average)
$3.15 $0.001 $0.13 $0.003 $0.0003 $0.01
Optional
Instant Transactions
Light Wallet
Mobile Wallet
Hardware Wallet

Private Transaction Compute Time refers to the time a typical computer will need to perform the cryptographic calculations neded to generate a private transaction.

Optional Instant Transaction is a feature of PIVX called Swifttx that lets transactions be confirmed quickly without relying on the normal blockchain confirmation wait.

Summary

Monero is still the most private cryptocurrency. All transactions are private, but it offers the ability to share a view key to let someone else see the details of a transaction you send. However, it’s one of the slower privacy-focused cryptocurrencies and it has the highest fees. It also suffers from a growing blockchain, due primarily to the way its privacy technology, RingCT, works. Monero is working on something called Bulletproofs, which should drop the size of a transaction by 80%, and will likely also result in lower fees.

Zcash uses the most advanced cryptography. Besides Monero, Zcash is the only cryptocurrency that hides transaction amounts. However, its privacy technology, zk-SNARKs, take a long time to generate a private transaction, and is so new that it hasn’t been well studied by researchers.

PIVX represents the best pairing of privacy and usability. It’s fast and has low fees, and its zerocoin technology let’s you hide the sender and recipient.