Coin Usage Data Suggests Privacy No Longer a Priority for Most Cryptocurrency Users

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In Brief
  • Data from CoinMetrics shows that Grin, Monero, and Zcash record only 6% of BTC's daily transaction numbers.

  • Less than 2% of all Zcash transactions are fully shielded.

  • Data seems to indicate user apathy toward privacy features of cryptocurrencies.

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The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency.

New data from the blockchain analysis firm CoinMetrics shows that despite the availability of privacy coins like Monero, Grin, and Zcash, crypto users are not using these coins to their full potential.

This shows that the majority of cryptocurrency users no longer care about shielding their transactions from public or government scrutiny.

Whereas the invention of cryptocurrency itself stemmed from the work of the data privacy-focused cypherpunk movement in the 1990s, daily user data from CoinMetrics shows that most current cryptocurrency users either no longer prioritize privacy, or have adopted crypto for non-privacy reasons.

Monero, Zcash, and Grin Don’t Hold a Candle to Bitcoin

According to the data, the total daily transactions in Monero, Zcash, and Grin amount to roughly 6 percent of Bitcoin’s daily transactions.

Source: CoinMetrics

When further broken down, the data reveals that even Zcash ranks surprisingly low on privacy feature usage.

The privacy-focused cryptocurrency, which is well known in cryptographic circles for its zk-SNARK security integration, enables completely private end-to-end transactions where all blockchain nodes are completely unaware of what is being sent and where at all times.

Despite this being one of the biggest initial targets of the original cypherpunk movement, daily transaction data shows that from a high of nearly 60 percent in January 2017, only about 10 percent of daily Zcash transactions use its optional privacy features.

Source: CoinMetrics

When broken down further, daily user figures show that only 2 percent of all ZEC transactions are fully shielded.

Source: CoinMetrics

Changing Adoption Patterns Behind Cryptocurrency User Apathy

While crypto purists may likely not approve of the lack of priority for privacy that the current usage data hints at, it may be a signal that cryptocurrency adoption is finally going mainstream in the way that many have been predicting for years.

Recent adoption data coming out of places like Nigeria and Venezuela would suggest that crypto is now a bonafide mainstream financial tool in some parts of the world.

Whereas early adopters with links to the cypherpunk movement would see the value in crypto as an alternative to fiat purely for discretionary reasons like privacy, there is evidence that a new demographic of adopters in the developing world are driven primarily by necessity.

To these people, crypto’s value lies in how well it can act like regular money without being controlled by conventional banking systems or government powers.


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David is a journalist, writer and broadcaster whose work has appeared on CNN, The Africa Report, The New Yorker Magazine and The Washington Post. His work as a satirist on 'The Other News,' Nigeria's answer to The Daily Show has featured in the New Yorker Magazine and in the Netflix documentary 'Larry Charles' Dangerous World of Comedy.' In 2018, he was nominated by the US State Department for the 2019 Edward Murrow program for journalists under the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). He tweets at @DavidHundeyin

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