In 1997, Steve Jobs of Apple gave a legendary talk about marketing. He told the story of the milk industry campaign that made sales skyrocket. It all came down to one catchy phrase — “got milk?”
In the talk, he said, “This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world. We’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”
So what do we want people to know about us? What’s the really clear elevator pitch?
I’ve hosted and attended dozens of cryptocurrency meetups, and I answer this every time. I tell someone I’m into Zcash, and the inevitable next question is, What’s Zcash? How is it different from Bitcoin? Knowing that I don’t have all day to explain, I tell them — Zcash is just like Bitcoin, but it uses zero knowledge proofs. Those proofs encrypt your balance and transaction amounts. Sometimes after I say the word zero knowledge, I see the eyes glaze over and their focus drifts. Who can blame them, no one wants zero knowledge, we all want more knowledge.
At a recent meetup, I was talking to a very smart person, a lawyer. He asked how Zcash differed from Monero or Bitcoin conjoin. I told him about the encryption, and he concluded the trade off with Zcash is, you get privacy but lose verifiability. Because how can all participants verify balances and transactions if they are unseen?
The answer is verified proofs.
The math behind Zcash Halo is verifiable. It’s what makes this system so special. Those trust-less mathematical zero knowledge proofs of encryption, I’m going to call them verified proofs.
In the future, verified proofs could be used in other ways, and I think it’s easier to start calling them verified proofs now instead of zero knowledge proofs. Buying alcohol might not require showing a cashier your full drivers license with all your personal info including home address. A blockchain based verified proof signed and sent to the cashier, could show them only what they need to know — that you are at least 21 years old. If the proof is mathematically sound, there’s no sacrifice in verifying what all parties need. Their software gives them a green checkmark and you get your 4 pack of Guinness.
Off the top of my head, there are even a few word associations that go with verified proof or VP.
It reminds us of powerful positions. Saying you are the VP of something is saying you’re at the wheel. Let your banker be the VP at Bank of America. You can be the VP at Zcash.
It’s similar to VIP, or very important person. A very important person uses a verified proof.
Also sounds like VPN, a privacy tool that enables tunneling to the internet in different physical server locations. In fact, one of the use cases of Zcash has been paying for VPN service.
I invite you to give it a try yourself. The next time you tell someone about Zcash, try using the term verified proof instead of zero knowledge proof and see if it makes a difference.