"If you have nothing to hide, you don't need privacy." That what people say when you talk about using wanting privacy. Everyone's mind immediately thinks that only things and actions that are illegal, immoral, or unethical would want to be kept out of public view.
However, there are many things that aren't illegal, immoral, or unethical that might want to be kept private. The first one that comes to mind is one's bank balance. Letting everyone know how much (or how little) may put one at risk of theft, fraud, begging friends and family, kidnapping, and so on.
Another thing that should be kept private is one's medical history. What about grades in school? Or what valuables are kept in the house and where? How about charitable and political donations?
Privacy is a basic need in life. It is also considered a "right" under common law.
When it comes to cryptocurrency, privacy becomes more important. This is especially true for Bitcoin (BTC). ANYONE can see your BTC crypto balance using your address (public key). See my earlier post on HD wallets.
This lack of privacy for Bitcoin (BTC) has led to the creation of several alt-coins that focus on privacy. My top five privacy coins for 2023 are (in no particular order): Monero (XMR), Zcash (ZEC), Dash (DASH), Haven (XHV), and PIVX (PIVX)
Monero (XMR) dominates this list with a market capitalization of $2.77B (as of 6 Mar 2023), more than all the rest combined. Monero (XMR) was created in 2014, using the Bitcoin (BTC) codebase. Monero (XMR) transactions are private by default, no need to select a certain type of transaction. Monero (XMR) uses a one-time "stealth" address to receive funds. Sender identities are concealed by mixing. Monero (XMR) also differs from Bitcoin (BTC) in that XMR funds are fungible, that is, interchangibility between the same amount. A major disadvantage of Monero (XMR) is that it is not listed on many of the major exchanges. Monero (XMR) mining is ASIC-resistent, and it can be mined using only CPU power.
Dash (DASH) has market capitalization of $700M (as of 6 Mar 2023). Launched in 2014, initially as XCoin, then DarkCoin, and finally changed to Dash, Dash (DASH) uses a modified version of the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain to provide more privacy, better transaction through-put, and better security. Dash (DASH) uses two tiers: one for miners processing new blocks, and one for masternodes the provide additional functions, such as InstaSend and PrivateSend. InstaSend allows transactions to be confirmed within seconds, while PrivateSend uses mixing to hide transaction information from public view.
Zcash (ZEC) has a market capitalization of $456M (as of 6 Mar 2023). Created in 2016, Zcash (ZEC) uses the same codebase as Bitcoin (BTC), so ZEC has an upper limit of 21 million coins. Zcash (ZEC) has optional shielded transactions (not the default), which hide the sender, recipient, and amount of a transaction.
Haven (XHV) has a market capitalization of $9.1M (as of 6 Mar 2023). Started in 2018, Haven, or Haven Protocol (XHV) uses a type of mixing, called RingCT, to keep transactions private. Haven (XHV) also offers Haven Vaults, which are off-chain storage nodes, allowing owners of XHV to store their funds in a safe, secure manner. Haven (XHV), being fairly new and not very big, is not listed on many exchanges. Haven (XHV) mining is ASIC-resistant, so it can be mined with sufficiently powerful GPUs.
PIVX (PIVX) has a market capitalization of $27.9M (as of 6 Mar 2023). Launched in 2016, PIVX (PIVX) is very similar to Dash (DASH) in that it uses masternodes to provide the InstaSend and PrivateSend functions. PIVX (PIVX) is a Proof-of-Stake coin, where anyone can download the PIVX Core wallet and stake their PIVX to earn staking rewards. PIVX staking rewards can also be earned on a staking pool like BTCPop.
Privacy-centric coins are in demand, judging by the number of new ones that are created. Some that missed my top five are: Secret (SCRT), Pirate (ARRR), Verge (XVG), Mask Network (MASK), and Horizen (ZEN). If you love another privacy coin I haven't mentioned, please feel free to post it in the comments below.
It shouldn't need to be said, but here it is anyway: this is not financial advice and this is not legal advice. I may or may not hold, have held, or will hold any or all or none of the coins mentioned above. This post is about privacy, after all. Let's be safe (and private) out there.