What Privacy Coins Are and the Four Best Privacy Coins?

A privacy coin is a category of cryptocurrency asset that keeps user data private. Each privacy coin hides or “obscures” a specific type of user data, whether that be a user identity, transaction amount, or anything and everything else. 

How Do Privacy Coins Work?

Contrary to popular belief, all cryptocurrency assets aren’t inherently private or anonymous. The majority of the blockchain networks, such as Bitcoin, publicly broadcast transactions and wallet balances on the blockchain; hence the value of an immutable, transparent blockchain. In most cases, it’s easier to trace someone’s Bitcoin financial activity than it is to trace their physical fiat activity. 

Even if the digital public ledger didn’t provide this information on a silver platter, someone with a sound knowledge of digital forensics and a penchant for deductive reasoning could efficiently track peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions– all they would need to do is skillfully connect the nodes and uncover the transactions. 

The last nail in the coffin for digital anonymity with traditional digital assets such as Bitcoin is the “Know Your Customer” KYC policies of exchanges. To trade Bitcoin on an exchange like Coinbase, Gemini, or Kraken, you’ll need to provide an abundance of personal identifiable information. This makes tracing a transaction to its origin a piece of digital cake. 

Privacy coins address and resolve these issues by deploying a diverse set of tactics to keep the data hidden. They usually leverage a mix of multiple strategies to accomplish their goal, such as: 

Stealth Addresses: Creating stealth addresses implies the creation of a new address each time you are to receive cryptocurrency. It ensures that external parties don’t get to link future payments to a permanent wallet address. Monero is the prime example of a privacy coin that deploys this technique. Monero deploys a dual-key stealth address protocol or DKSAP strategy to offer each wallet owner a new private view key, recipient address, and a private spend key. 

Ring Signatures: Blockchain transactions require your digital signature to verify that you’re the sender. Since each user’s signature is unique, it’s not difficult to trace back a transaction to you with your signature. The Ring Signature strategy combines your signature with other signers in the ring– the higher the number of signatures in a ring, the more difficult it is to directly connect you with your transaction. 

CoinJoin: The CoinJoin technique takes the coins from different senders and combines them into a single transaction. Then, a third party mixes the coins and sends them to the recipients. At the user end, each recipient gets his/her coin in a never-used-before address. This reduces the likelihood of a transaction being traced to a very low probability.  

zk-SNARKS: zK-SNARKS, or “Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge” is a form of cryptography that allows one to prove it possesses specific information without having to reveal the contents of the information. Privacy coins using zK-SNARKS can prove a transaction’s validity without sending critical pieces of information, such as the sender or receiver’s identity or the number of funds trading hands. 

MimbleWimble: MimbleWimble is an entire blockchain protocol that doesn’t even have addresses. MimbleWimble uses a type of elliptical-curve cryptography and is incredibly efficient at storing data. It only needs about 105 as much data storage as the Bitcoin network, making it a very low-weight highly-scalable solution for storing information. 

The Top Four Privacy Coins

The most successful privacy coins deploy one or multiple strategies from the above list to provide users near or complete transactional anonymity. 

With over 83 privacy coins holding a total market cap of more than $10 billion, privacy coins still make up a very small percentage of the digital asset ecosystem– they occupy less than 1%. 

The following top four privacy coins have gained their reputation due to usage, longevity, and overall investor sentiments. 


Monero is the largest privacy coin in terms of market capitalization at nearly 4 billion US dollars. The project usually trades between a high of $240 and a low of $216. 

Unlike many other privacy coins, Monero isn’t built on the Ethereum protocol– it runs on its own blockchain. 

Monero (XMR) aims to achieve the maximum possible standard of decentralization where a user does not need to trust anyone else on the network. It’s a completely fungible token that obscures every detail about senders, recipients, and the amount of cryptocurrency transferred. Unlike privacy coin competitors like Zcash, Monero is not selectively transparent. It leverages Ring Signatures to achieve complete privacy. 


ZCash has a market capitalization of around $1.5 billion US dollars and it usually trades around the $130 to $150 price range.  Like Monero, ZCash runs on its blockchain and does not use the Ethereum protocol. While Monero is known for offering complete anonymity, ZCash’s advantage is in its feature of optional anonymity. 

You can choose to send ZCash (ZEC) funds in two ways. The transparent method of fund transfer happens similarly to Bitcoin: funds are transferred between public addresses and are recorded on an immutable public ledger. Users and participants of the network can see the addresses and the amount involved. 

Shielded transactions, on the other hand, leverage the zK-SNARKS method and are completely anonymous. 

Zcash is unique in its privacy coin family in that it gives users the option for privacy. 


With market capitalization crossing half a billion dollars, Horizen (ZEN) is priced around $48 and $54. Operating on its blockchain, Horizen is unique in its use of a sidechain architecture that opens up possibilities for a host of diverse use cases. It allows for decentralized sidechains by which separate blockchains can run simultaneously while remaining pegged to the parent blockchain. 

Horizen has a mission of making cryptocurrency as inclusive as possible and making an ecosystem where every participant will get rewards proportionate to their contribution. ZEN follows the Equihash consensus mechanism, uses secure nodes, and has TLS encryption to ensure secure inter-node communication.


With a market capitalization of over 2 billion dollars, Dash is currently priced between $211 and $226. The currency derives its name from Digital Cash.  It runs on an open-source blockchain and aims to offer a fast and cheap decentralized network of global payments. 

One of the most enticing aspects of DASH is that it offers a wide range of usage-mechanism to its participants. For instance, its InstantSend decentralized project governance mechanism allows for payments to settle instantly.  With its Chainlocks feature, the DASH blockchain becomes instantly immutable, and its PrivateSend functionality offers optional privacy for users to choose during transactions. 

The long-term vision of DASH is to become “the most user-friendly” and “scalable payments-focused cryptocurrency in the world.” DASH offers its services to both individuals and institutions. It caters to the international remittance needs of merchants, traders, and institutional users.

Final Thoughts: Honorable Mentions 

Apart from these four top-ranking assets, the list of top ten privacy coins includes Verge (XVG), Private Instant Verified Transaction Cryptocurrency (PIVX), NuCypher (NU), Secret (SCRT), Phala. Network (PHA), Counos X (CCXX), Keep Network (KEEP), and the MimbleWimbleCoin (MWC.)

Privacy coins are an integral part of the crypto-economy because they can benefit otherwise legitimate users who don’t wish to make their transactions to be made public. For example, businesses often want to keep their clients, or the set of vendors they work with, a secret.  Privacy coins enable businesses to leverage the blockchain while preserving their competitive advantage. 

Although public wallets are viewable by anyone, privacy coins ensure that every transaction is mapped with a stealth address that can’t be traced back to the originator. Resultantly, the user feels empowered and gets to exercise his right to privacy in the fullest meaning of the term.

However, privacy coins also have a controversial bend. Outside of legitimate concerns for financial privacy, privacy coins also enable malicious actors to transact in silence. This is one of the primary reasons privacy coins are a focal point for regulatory agencies around the world.

NBA Top Shot: A Complete Guide to Basketball on Blockchain

NBA Top Shot is the hottest talk on the cryptocurrency of 2021 so far; the collectible, blockchain-based NFT release platform and marketplace enable users to purchase NFTs of NBA highlight reels, and some of them have sold for over $200,000.

It seems like basketball on the blockchain is a slam dunk. Let’s explore. 

NBA Top Shot History: A Dapper Labs Project

NBA Top Shot was launched in July 2019 by Dapper Labs, a blockchain startup specializing in digital collectibles.

Prior to Top Shot, Dapper Labs’ best-known project was the viral CryptoKitties– a staple of 2017 cryptocurrency culture. CryptoKitties is an NFT-based game where users can collect and “breed” collectible cats. 

NBA Top Shot’s Home Page

While NBA Top Shot and Cryptokitties share many similarities due to their non-fungible nature, CryptoKitties is unique in that each CryptoKitty is one-of-a-kind in its design. In contrast, NBA Top Shot sells thousands of copies of an individual moment, although each is marked by a unique-serial number. 

CryptoKitties were frequently being bought and sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars during the 2017/2018 bull run in secondary marketplaces. 

The Dapper Labs partnership team has been incredibly busy since CryptoKitties, forming partnerships with the NBA and NBPA, Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, and the UFC. 

“Dapper Labs’ innovation and expertise make them a perfect partner to introduce this groundbreaking game and what we believe will become coveted digital collectibles for basketball fans around the world,” said Adrienne O’Keeffe, NBA Senior Director, Consumer Products & Gaming Partnerships in a press release regarding the 2019 NBA partnership. 

Dapper Labs raised $52.5M from notable funds such as Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Venrock, GV (formally known as Google Ventures), and Samsung as well as the founders of AngelList, Reddit, Dreamworks, Coinbase, and  Zynga. The team recently announced it is raising $250 million in a Coatue Management-led round in 2021. 

Contrary to popular belief, Dapper Labs doesn’t use the Ethereum blockchain; it uses the Flow blockchain, citing Ethereum’s inability to cost-effectively scale as too significant an obstacle for the trading of digital collectibles. With Ethereum gas fees spiking as high as $150+, Dapper seems to have made a great decision before reaching a critical mass of users and virality.  

How Does NBA Top Shot Work?

NBA Top Shot is designed to emulate the exciting experience of buying packs of trading cards. 

  1. You can create an account at https://www.nbatopshot.com/
  2. You will be required to fill out some basic KYC profile information. You will also be asked to make a Dapper Labs profile, which facilitates the transaction process. 
  3. You will be given the option to select your favorite teams, which will help NBA Top Shot curate your home-page experience. 

Once you’ve created your account, you’ll likely need to wait for a new pack to drop. We recommend signing up for their email list to be notified as to when the packs will go live. 

They sell out very quickly, and showing up on time doesn’t guarantee you’ll get to purchase a pack. 

So far, it seems there are three standard types of pack available:

  • Base Set (Common): For $9, you will get nine common moments. Every moment has a production of 1000+ with no maximum cap. 
  • Premium: For $24, users will receive seven common moments, and one rare moment. The rare moments have a production max of 999 clips. 
  • Legendary: $230 gets you six common moments, three rare moments, and one legendary moment. The legendary moment has a production max of 99 clips. 

There are also pack drops outside of the standard pricing. For example, on March 6th, 2021, “Seeing Stars” packs dropped for $14. 

How Much are NBA Top Shot Moments Selling For?

Taking a gander at the NBA Top Shot Marketplace, you’ll see thousands of Moments being sold for anywhere from $5 to $250,000+. 

One user made waves by purchasing a LeBron James Lakers Highlight Moment for $208,000, citing that he is an enormous fan of James and believes the moment is worth $1,000,000+. 

Sold out packs on NBA Top Shot

There are over 8 NFT moments of James that sold between $48,500 to $100,000. Zion Williamson’s “Holo MMXX” Block Moment sold for $100,000. 

Final Thoughts

Are NBA Top Shot moments worth hundreds of thousands, or potentially millions, of dollars? Is it just a fad that will fizzle out once the hype dies down? 

We’ll let history decide, but for now, it’s worth exploring two antagonizing lines of thought:

  • “NBA Top Shot moments are pieces of sports history! You’ve seen trading cards sell for millions of dollars, this is just like that but maybe even better. Since these moments are NFTs, you can easily track ownership, propriety, and you can transact seamlessly with anyone all over the world. They’re digital, so you don’t have to worry about storing them or experiencing a situation like your mom throwing out your lucrative Pokemon card collection!” 

Well, yes. One can argue that value is determined by how much anyone is willing to pay for a specific item. It is difficult to gauge how well value is preserved in a purely digital ecosystem because it is so new. Speculating with NFTs is very risky, and every ounce of prudence may help in the long-run. 

  • “People are crazy to spend any amount of money on NBA Top Shot Moments. You can just save the video to your computer and watch the moment whenever you want, for free! The marketplace is highly speculative and the true value of NBA Top Shot Moments is probably much less than what people are trying to sell them for.” 

Well, yes. You can also buy a mock imitation of the Mona Lisa for about $100. Heck, the paint on it probably won’t even be chipping. The value of NBA Top Shot Moments and NFTs is in their scarcity and ownership features

In theory, more people watching and saving a particular moment will only increase the value of owning the original– it’s basically free advertising. 

Time will tell how far basketball on the blockchain will go, but it’s worth paying attention to for any sports fan or collector.

Pastel Mainnet Launch

Today, Pastel has announced that it has open-sourced its mainnet to the community for public release. Pastel is an open-source, decentralized system allowing artists to register “provably rare” assets on a Bitcoin-like blockchain, while also allowing art collectors to purchase these artworks and “trustlessly”  trade them among themselves without reliance on a central authority. After months of extensive development and testing, the Pastel Network mainnet is fully developed and live.

The network allows art collectors to purchase these artworks and “trustlessly” trade them among themselves without reliance on a central authority. Over two years ago, the team set out to develop the underlying infrastructure for a fully decentralized digital art platform, to better democratize the digital art world.

The core of the network is built on top of Z-Cash, leveraging EquiHash, a 2.5 minute block time, and an emission schedule relatively aligned with that of Bitcoin. Furthermore, the platform allows for shielded transactions by employing a Z-SNARKS Trusted Setup. 

However unlike Z-Cash, there is no hardcoded mining reward and instead, compensation and promotion of the pastel Network is conducted using a decentralized voting system controlled by Masternodes, the cornerstone of the Pastel architecture. Pastel implements essential elements from DASH, making it a novel masternode based cryptocurrency with full support for Z-SNARKS. On top of underpinning the overall security and validity of the network, Masternodes serve a key operational use case of the platform as they are critical for registering artwork and facilitating trading between users. 

With the attributes of Z-Cash and Dash, Pastel has built a secure system able to identify network participants – artists, collectors, and Masternode operators – across all interactions. This attribute is essential for having a functional reputation tracking system and for detecting and mitigating hostile behavior by malicious users.

Perhaps most importantly, compute intensive applications and operations are enabled by processing capabilities provided by the network’s Masternodes. To be specific, the application’s artwork registration flow lends itself to a sophisticated system that combines near-duplicate image detection and testing for inappropriate content – each with their own novel and innovative framework which leverage advances in machine learning technology as well as the creative application of classical statistical techniques. Pastel also introduces a novel method to increase the capacity of the blockchain for storing the required ticket data through the use of the innovative Z-Standard lossless compression algorithm developed as an open-source project by Facebook.

Currently, the network’s emission schedule matches that of Z-Cash, which is closely modeled off of Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s block reward began at 50 BTC per block, with a new block every 10 minutes. Conversely, Pastel has a max supply of 1,000x the size of the Bitcoin max supply, with a new block every 2.5 minutes (vs. every 10 minutes for Bitcoin). As such, the initial block reward is 6,250 PSL / Block, and is reduced by 50% every ~ 4 years (similar to halvening events in the Bitcoin network).

The Pastel Growth Fund receives 5% of the total block reward. These are funds that can be directed, in a decentralized way, by a vote of the Masternode owners as a group, using an integrated voting system. The ultimate goal of the Growth Fund is to promote the network through early adoption and public relations efforts. This might include the development of new functionality through updated software, the promotion of the project by getting the coin listed on a new exchange, or the promotion of the project through the enlistment of well-known or respected digital artists who could register their original works on the system. 

To date, the project has largely been funded by a handful of developers and early adopters. With the launch of a fully functional mainnet and platform (in comparison with many other blockchain projects which market nothing short of vaporware), the network has been able to raise financing from Innovating Capital, a technology fund out of New York, to further the project’s development and product adoption.