Arrow, A Fork with a Point
“I thrive in a fast moving, occasionally chaotic environment, be it a pro bike race, a crypto startup or helping enterprises adopt blockchain technology.”
Jayson Jacobs, Arrow Lead Dev and Founder, April 2020
The Aim of Arrow
I’ll get straight to the point.
Arrow (ARW) is a block-one fork of Zcash, meaning it doesn’t share the latter’s transaction history. It has four crucial differences:
- Enforced Sapling-only, fully-shielded anonymous transactions
- Greater transaction throughput granted by a faster block time
- A memory intensive variation on the EquiHash mining algorithm used by Zcash, and designed to prevent ASIC miners from centralizing mining (EquiHash Heavy).
- Lightweight Desktop and Mobile wallets aimed at ease-of-use.
It was in a recent interview with Duke Leto that Arrow shot across my radar, and it soon became obvious that this privacy coin had a substantial Twitter following, and a few noteworthy accounts showing support.
Now while it is certainly true that with Sapling-only transactions Arrow affords its users what is generally regarded by experts as the apex in cryptocurrency privacy, I still felt I was missing something. Why so popular?
To learn about Sapling transactions check out this article.
Sapling is Zcash’s second major implementation of zero knowledge proofs and transactions, and they are exponentially faster and less resource demanding than Sprout transactions.
Arrow’s mission statement expresses a simple conviction:
Arrow is faster, lighter, more private, and easier to use than Bitcoin or Zcash. Arrow aims to bridge the divide between mainstream adoption and the cryptocurrency world through an intuitive user experience and effortless transactional privacy
Many coins are now going Sapling-only. Pirate Chain (ARRR) and Hush (HUSH) already have. Sapling-only is in vogue baby.
So why the special interest in Arrow? I speculated that the answer to that might be connected to the lead developer, and founder, Jayson
Reading his twitter bio was not immediately helpful, and since I know even less about bicycles (I should probably say bikes) than I do coding, I will unashamedly admit that I googled “Pro XC MTB” expecting a mining algorithm. I’d missed the mark, but persevered.
Jayson Jacobs, the self-described “Polyglot Code Farmer”, has been very active on GitHub since mid-2017, and contributed to several crypto projects. His passion as a pro biker seems to have started around the same time he opened that GitHub account around 2011.
So my hunch going into the interview was that he had created a following. Certainly, a team has grown around him, and so too a community.
As I myself am not a coder I cannot, regrettably, study commits and decipher the cleverness of code that may or may not underpin some presumed reputation, or greatness.
In order to test my theory I prepared some questions for Jayson and the Arrow Team.
As it turned out, my hunch was right.
What’s the early history of Arrow?
Arrow was developed and launched in early 2019 by a group of individuals who believed that “opt-in” privacy doesn’t work. The founders thought that the shielded transactions of zcash (“zk-SNARKS”) were revolutionary but found it frustrating that only a very small percentage (<1%) of transactions occurring on the zcash network were actually private. So the Arrow founders created a blockchain network where mandatory privacy was built in.
To Jayson. Besides you contributing to numerous projects, and being a biking enthusiast, what else can you tell us about yourself?
Blockchain Engineer at Splunk, formerly Lead Data Engineer at a crypto data science startup. I thrive in a fast moving, occasionally chaotic environment, be it a pro bike race, a crypto startup or helping enterprises adopt blockchain technology.
Pause the interview. Let’s check out Splunk.
Splunk is the The Data-to-Everything™ Platform, and Jayson is their Blockchain Engineer.
Splunk Inc. is an American public multinational corporation based in San Francisco, California, that produces software for searching, monitoring, and analyzing machine-generated big data via a Web-style interface.
You should check out Jayson’s Linkedin.
Now back to the interview.
On the surface Arrow is pretty straightforward to explain — a Sapling only fork of Zcash using a different mining algorithm and with a faster block time. Technically though this makes it among the most anonymous coins alongside Pirate Chain. Why isn’t Arrow better known?
The Arrow team has preferred for information about Arrow to spread organically, through word of mouth. We are not interested in being some flash-in-the-pan project. We have a solid community on discord, mainly of miners and privacy advocates.
As people learn about Arrow’s technology and try the wallet, we are confident people will be impressed and will use it as their go-to privacy coin.
Is Arrow the most private coin today?
Arrow is likely one of, if not the most, private cryptocurrency available today. Many well-known privacy coins “jumble” transactions that occur in each block. This means that although it is more difficult to trace transactions back to the original sender, it is not impossible.
Every single transaction that occurs on Arrow’s network, by contrast, are “shielded”, which means they are fully encrypted, and untraceable. And unlike Zcash, all transactions that occur on Arrow’s network are mandatorily shielded.
Ease-of-use is a core value of Arrow. How do you aim to provide this?
Ease-of-use has been a number one priority for Arrow’s team since the very beginning. If crypto is to be successful and gain mainstream acceptance and use, it will need to be fast and easy to use. We have developed our wallets to be as easy to use as possible.
Privacy is strengthened with network usage. Is the community growing, and what plans does Arrow have to expand the userbase?
As noted above, the Arrow team has been focused on creating a core group of devoted users, mainly from the cryptocurrency mining community. We believe that as word spreads of Arrow’s best-in-class privacy features, easy to use technology, and accessible branding, the user base will continue to grow organically.
Th team has grown since the project started, who has joined?
We have a few heavy hitting contributors from the crypto community. Forge, from Zero, contributed some exciting features to make private transactions more scalable and efficient. Duke, from Hush, contributed some equally exciting features to measure the anonymity set and put a number on the privacy of the chain.
I see lots of big CT accounts following Arrow. How do you account for this?
Cryptotwitter is excellent at identifying bullshit scams and promoting solid, community-run projects. Arrow is completely transparent about the low and temporary founder’s reward, the halving stepdowns, and all other aspects of the coin’s distributed leadership and governance. We are transparent because there has to be trust from the crypto community to gain acceptance.
What can fans of Arrow expect in the coming months?
Arrow will continue its development journey to enable it to become the truly private, digital cash that was envisioned in the whitepaper. As well as our own efforts, this includes invaluable community contributions and collaborations with other privacy coins to push the entire privacy space forward.
In the immediate future we’ll be merging in Duke Leto’s (Hush Team) code to track anonset and additional transactions statistics in real time after testing.
Arrow isn’t at a point where developers are working on the project full time, but progress is continual and natural of a project of our current size, and we’re excited to continue to innovate in the privacy space.
We understand that one area currently holding Arrow back from the potential of day to day use as a currency is a lack of liquidity and options to trade ARW. This is something that we are continuing to explore with relevant parties, but we would also be delighted to discuss this with anyone who believes they can offer additional options for ARW in this regard.
All a Quiver
SafeTrade Exchange listed ARW a few months ago and were praised by the team for their speedy wallet updates and diligence.
The Arrow Team are fine-tuning powerful, bleeding-edge tech. They want to make it easy and accessible, and last December released Quiver, a Lite wallet that “offers significantly faster sync times and ease of use improvements”.
These sorts of improvements demand precision, patience and professionalism, qualities which are likely imbued by Jayson, a lead dev with an excellent track record, and a really good bike.
As we move to an increasingly online world in which physical cash is not practical for many transactions, we must also develop and foster electronic cash that is as privacy-preserving and permissionless as physical cash.
The Case for Electronic Cash: Why Private Peer-to-Peer Payments are Essential to an Open Society, Jerry Brito, as cited in the Arrow white paper