Electric Coin Co. Engineering: 2020, a year in review

The sun literally never sets on ECC Engineering! We’re a small, global organization focused on building and supporting technology to provide people with access to a fair and open currency — regardless of location or demographic. In short, our mission is to empower everyone with economic freedom. We’re fortunate to have some of the most talented engineers and cryptographers in the world on our team, and while 2020 was a challenging year on many fronts, we continued to make tremendous progress in both R&D and engineering, which we feel will benefit Zcash for years to come.

ECC actively develops and maintains the Zcashd consensus client, the official reference implementation of the Zcash Protocol Specification. The Zcashd client allows you to send and receive ZEC, mine ZEC, and verify transactions. It is in use by mining pools and exchanges all over the world.

Since 2016, ECC has been at the forefront of groundbreaking research and development with implications beyond the cryptocurrency world. Zcash was the first project to successfully implement zero-knowledge proofs, and ECC has established a reputation for shipping quality, production-ready code at regular intervals. We release new versions of Zcashd on roughly six-week release cycles and are currently performing an average of two network upgrades (or “hard forks”) per year.


Historical and future release and network upgrade information can be found on our Schedule page.


We had many successes in 2020 across all of our engineering-related teams including Core, Wallet, Dev Infra, and Security. These successes included the regular cadence of releases and network upgrades, as well as breakthrough cryptographic research, developments to move the shielded wallet ecosystem forward, operational enhancements and advancements, and a continued demonstration of our commitment to security best practices ensuring safe and secure releases and network upgrades. 

2020 highlights include:

  • Released nine versions of Zcashd and successfully executed our fourth and fifth network upgrades, codenamed Heartwood and Canopy.
  • Released a number of resources to assist in mobile wallet development, including an updated Android SDK, a new iOS SDK, and a compatible lightwalletd with increased speed and efficiency.
  • Developed and open sourced the ECC Wallet for iOS and Android, which, along with our iOS and Android wallet SDKs, has already fostered the entrance of two additional Zcash shielded wallets into the ecosystem, Unstoppable and NightHawk.
  • Released Sapling viewing key RPC support, specifically, the extended viewing keys described in ZIP 32.
  • Performed multiple security audits of Heartwood and Canopy, consistent with the security standard at ECC requiring an audit for every ZIP included in a network upgrade.
  • Released the initial version of Testnet-in-a-Box, which allows development teams to spin up their own private testnet with any number of nodes.
  • Worked with Gemini engineering as the company became the first regulated institution to announce shielded support, having received previous approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). 
  • Began productizing Halo, the next generation of zero-knowledge proof technology, which could radically improve Zcash as well as other blockchains, and which could also have applications beyond blockchain
  • Established an internal security process to implement coverage-guided fuzz testing to augment our external security audits.
  • Advised Zondax in the development of their Ledger integration which represents the first shielded support for hardware wallets.
  • Designed a new cycle of elliptic curves for the Halo 2 project, Pallas and Vesta, which we collectively refer to as the Pasta curves.

For a full recap of 2020, including all our engineering activity, please see our Electric Coin Co. blog.

Wishing you the best for a healthy, happy, and successful 2021!

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