Cryptocurrencies have gained popularity due to several factors, including privacy and anonymity. Some of them help users to conceal their identities and their transactions. Amid mounting concerns about the anonymity of early cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, users are searching for new options.

Let’s take a look at the some popular privacy-oriented cryptocurrencies, which have several built-in privacy features. These claim to offer enhanced security features or options that help to keep users' identities and activities concealed.

Key Takeaways

  • While cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are often touted as being private and encrypted, the blockchain technology employed is actually a public ledger allowing for less privacy than many realize.
  • Certain methods exist, such as coinjoin, to obscure one's identity or transaction history on Bitcoin, but this requires some technical know-how and comes with transaction fees.
  • Several other cryptocurrencies have built-in privacy features or options that users can enjoy for more private online commerce.

1. Monero

Monero's (XMR) popularity has been on the rise, primarily due to its ability to help anonymize users. Monero transactions are much more difficult to trace because they use ring signatures and stealth addresses. These methods help to hide the identities of the sender and the receiver. Additionally, Ring Confidential Transactions, or RingCT, helps to conceal the transaction amount, providing more privacy.

Trading at $157.30 as of December 24, 2020, Monero was the fourteenth-largest cryptocurrency by overall market value, coming in at roughly $2.8 billion.

2. Zcash

Zcash (ZEC) defines itself as “If Bitcoin is like http for money, Zcash is https," underlining its enhanced security and privacy features. Zcash has implemented a cryptographic tool called Zero-Knowledge Proof and grants participants an option to shield transactions. It allows participants to transact without any of them revealing their addresses to the other(s). Zero-Knowledge Proof also obfuscates the transaction amount.

Zcash ranks at number 42 in the list of cryptocurrencies with a market cap of $654 million, and trading at $60.50 per ZEC as of December 24, 2020.

3. DASH

Created in 2014, DASH is a cryptocurrency that allows the user to choose whether or not their transactions are anonymous and private using its PrivateSend feature. This allows users who would like to remain within their countries' regulatory standards to do so. The feature works by obscuring the origins of your funds. Choosing to use the private send feature will slightly raise the fee for the transaction. DASH achieves this through a mixing protocol utilizing an innovative decentralized network of servers called master nodes.

As of December 24, 2020, Dash ranked 33rd by market cap with a total value of over $935 million. At the time of writing, it is trading at around $95.

4. Verge

Instead of relying on cryptographic techniques, Verge (XVG) banks on the existing and tested technology of The Onion Router (TOR) and the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) to protect users' identities. TOR bounces a user's communications over a distributed network of relays and tunnels run by volunteers spread across the globe, thereby hiding the user’s identity. On the other hand, I2P encrypts user data before sending it through an anonymous, peer-to-peer, and volunteer-run globally distributed network. It allows hiding the locations and IP addresses of the transacting participants.

Verge made headlines when a popular adult website adopted it to start accepting cryptocurrency payments. The primary reason for the development was Verge’s privacy features.

As of December 24, 2020, Verge ranked 111th by market cap with a total value of $104.8 million and an exchange rate of 0.0064 cents.

5. Horizen

Horizen (ZEN) offers privacy shielded Z-Addresses and public T-Addresses that work similarly to Bitcoin. However, sending funds from a Z-Address to a T-Address will show the amount received. Horizen also boasts a vast node network, which helps to improve anonymity.

On December 24, 2020, Horizen traded at $9.40 and had a total market cap of around $99.6 million. That made it the 117th largest cryptocurrency.

6. Beam

Beam is a security-focused token with core features that include complete control over your privacy. All transactions are private by default and no addresses or other private information are stored on the blockchain. It claims superior scalability due to its compact blockchain size, opt-in auditability, support for online and offline transactions, atomic swaps, and hardware wallets integration.

As of December 24, 2020, Beam tokens were trading at $0.28, with a total market value of $21.9 million, making the 294th most valuable cryptocurrency.

The Bottom Line

While privacy is a much-desired feature in the virtual world, it brings with it the perils of a large criminal element. Cryptocurrency operators have to fend off numerous hacking attempts by malicious participants. Law enforcement agencies and regulators are also more likely to investigate people with large transactions.

Although Bitcoin remains the most popular choice, it is constantly being targeted by government agencies. They have become quite good at tracing Bitcoin transactions, creating a strong incentive to switch to more private cryptocurrencies.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) is very risky and highly speculative. This article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein.