You don’t need to have something to hide before you take steps to protect your privacy.
That is to say, privacy coins are not necessarily for the bad guys. Privacy coins can and should be used by anyone who wants to keep their financial lives private.
And as we both know, privacy is a human right, that you don’t need to explain to anyone why you want it.
On that note, I will be sharing with you the best privacy coins out there that you can use whenever you want to enforce your privacy.
Best privacy coins in the market
Best is subjective. But for the purpose of this article, we consider the best privacy coins to be those that are:
- Untraceable or at least extremely difficult to trace.
- Popular and widely adopted, as revealed by the size of their marketcap.
- Actively being developed and has a sizeable community.
- Simple and easy to use for every day, peer-to-peer transactions.
There are over 60 different privacy coins according to Coingecko, all aimed at helping you enforce your privacy.
Below are the top 8 from that list based on market capitalizations, user adoption, developer activity, security, and effectiveness of their privacy technology.
- Monero (XMR)
- Zcash (ZEC)
- Dash (DASH)
- PIVX (PIVX)
- Horizen (ZEN)
- Verge (XVG)
- Beam (BEAM)
- Secret Network (SCRT)
Let’s see what each of the above privacy coins have to offer below.
1. Monero (XMR)
Monero is the absolute best privacy coin out there, secure, private, and untraceable.
The privacy coin is so strong that the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) awarded a contract of $1.25 million to experts to develop tools that can break Monero.
They haven’t succeeded yet, and Monero remains unbroken.
While the government is doing everything they can to break Monero, the community is busy further adding extra security and privacy features.
Unlike Bitcoin and other non-privacy coins, the Monero blockchain is designed to be opaque.
All transaction records and wallet balances are hidden from public view.
Furthermore, the wallet addresses of both the sender and receiver and the amount involved in a Monero transaction are also hidden.
Each transaction uses a unique one-time address, and the total transaction amount is split into smaller units, each with its own unique one-time address.
These smaller amounts are further mixed with a variety of decoy transactions to make it nearly impossible for any prying eyes to trace.
The community’s goal is to make Monero the ultimate and an invincible privacy coin that’s censorship-resistant.
Unlike other privacy coins with optional privacy, privacy is non-negotiable with Monero.
All transactions are private by default, and there’s no way anyone can trace what, where, and how you spend.
But for the purposes of complying with taxes, each Monero wallet has a view key which you can give to anyone to check the balance in your wallet.
2. ZCash (ZEC)
ZCash uses Zero-knowledge Proof (zk-SNARKs) to hide the amount, wallet addresses of participants, and memos in a private ZEC transaction.
One can view that such transactions took place on the Zcash blockchain but the details of the addresses and amount are encrypted.
Users who wish to share this information with others say the authorities, for tax reporting and other purposes, can do so by giving them their wallet view keys.
However, unlike Monero, privacy in Zcash is optional.
That means you can decide to make your transactions transparent or private if you want.
Transparent transactions would be freely available for anyone to see on the blockchain. But private transactions are and invisible to the public and can only be viewed using the user’s view key.
3. Dash (DASH)
Dash, which stands for digital cash is a payment cryptocurrency with an optional privacy feature.
That means you can choose to enable or disable privacy for a DASH coin transaction using its PrivateSend feature.
DASH aims to become the alternative to the use of cash or fiat for making instant and secure payments for goods and services.
The coin is accepted in thousands of both online and offline merchant stores worldwide.
With its instant payment settlement feature via InstaSpend and negligible fees, DASH comes top among payment cryptocurrencies.
The coin is also widely accepted in thousands of both online and offline merchant stores worldwide.
Thus you can shop with peace of mind by activating DASH’s PrivateSend which assures the privacy of your transactions.
However, DASH’s optional privacy technology is not as reliable as Monero’s.
So, if you can’t afford to risk being exposed, by all means, use Monero instead.
4. PIVX (PIVX)
PIVX stands for “Private Instant Verified Transaction”. It is a Proof of Stake (PoS) based privacy coin that uses SHIELD, a custom implementation of the zk-SNARK protocol to offer its users privacy.
SHIELD hides both the sender and receiver’s wallet addresses, the amount involved in the transaction, as well as all personally identifying data.
But if the user to wish, they can grant permission to anyone to view transaction details using their viewing keys.
Similar to Dash and ZCash, the PIVX privacy feature is optional.
However, similar to Monero, privacy is the default option on PIVX, and users can switch to transparent transactions manually if that’s what they want.
The team is working on adding additional privacy functionalities such as anonymous masternodes, voting, staking, etc. to further enhance users privacy as can be found in their roadmap.
5. Horizen (ZEN)
Similar to ZCash and PIVX, Horizen offers optional privacy where users can choose to shield their transactions or make them transparent.
ZEN coin official privacy feature is only supported on official wallets which are available as desktop applications for both iOS and Windows.
6. Verge (XVG)
Verge is a secure and user-friendly privacy coin built for everyday transactions.
The cryptocurrency uses multiple anonymity-centric networks such as TOR (the onion router) and I2P (invisible internet project) to make transactions untraceable and protect users identities.
Verge became more prominent when Pornhub started accepting it for payments on its platform in 2018.
7. Beam (BEAM)
As such it’s impossible for an onlooker to identify an individual with their transactions.
The privacy coin has a pretty advanced and fast-evolving ecosystem.
It’s building its own privacy-focused smart contract blockchain and DeFi ecosystem, atomic swap DEX, and other cool stuff that you’ll find in their updated roadmap.
Beam has a mobile and desktop wallet for storing, managing and transacting with your BEAM coins.
8. Secret Network
Secret Network is a much newer privacy coin and claims to be the “first blockchain with privacy-preserving smart contracts”.
It is a smart contracts platform that enforces privacy by default.
Unlike public smart contract blockchains like Ethereum where all data used in their smart contracts is exposed to the public, Secret Network conceals all inputs, outputs, and state of smart contracts on its network
Secret Network combines the smart contract functionality of Ethereum, Monero’s privacy, and Cosmos scalability and interoperability to form a blockchain network that aims to be the foundation for the next generation of successful Web3 applications (dApps).
Since all data on Secret Network is encrypted and private by default, users have “viewing keys” with which they can view their sensitive data and balances.
This is similar to what other privacy coins discussed above use.
These viewing keys can be shared with third parties like auditors, wallets, and the authority for tax and other purposes if required.
Thus giving users full control over their data, and enabling you to choose what you want to share and what you wish to keep private.
Privacy coins conceal information about senders and receivers in a transaction using various technologies.
Making it hard and in some cases impossible for an unauthorised third party to view or trace the transactions to the real-life identity of the users involved.
The privacy coins discussed above fall into the following 3 categories, with category one offering the strongest privacy, followed by two, then three.
- Privacy only, with no option for transparent transactions. (XMR, SCRT)
- Privacy by default, with an option for transparent transactions (ZEC, PIVX, BEAM, ZEN, XVG).
- Transparent by default with optional privacy (DASH).
If you require strong privacy and are paranoid of someone watching you, then you should consider using privacy-only coins like Monero.