Zcash is a really exciting cryptocurrency, offering genuinely private transactions (as opposed to Bitcoin transactions which are all publicly visible). If you visit the “Getting started” section of their site, they have some great instructions for setting up a node and creating addresses and transactions etc. But what if you just want to buy some without the heavy setup?
It should be said that one of the benefits of cryptocurrencies in general is the ability to be in complete control of your money, without having to trust anyone else to handle it for you. The approach outlined here gives up some measure of control for the sake of convenience.
Step 1: Get a wallet
There’s a reasonably comprehensive list of wallets to choose from here, and cryptocompare.com offers some interesting comparison on which to base your decision. My current recommendation for an easy-to-use wallet is Jaxx. Advantages:
- They offer various apps and browser extensions.
- The UI is very nice, especially compared to a lot of the alternatives.
- They’ve recently announced over 70 additional cryptocurrency integrations.
- You can view some of their source code (although not the most recent version, and not in an easily consumable way).
- There’s built in ShapeShift support, for easy cryptocurrency exchange.
- You control the private keys.
That last one is the most important. If you use something like Freewallet, which never even tells you the private keys for your wallet, then whatever funds you have there aren’t really yours. Of course, to a certain extent you have to trust Jaxx’s applications not to send your private keys to their servers, so as with all guides like this one…
WARNING: Don’t store more cryptocurrency in a wallet like Jaxx’s than you would be happy losing.
Once you have a Jaxx app, you need to create a wallet for Zcash (ZEC) and whichever other cryptocurrencies you’re interested in using.
Step 2: Get some Bitcoin
There are plenty of guides that will tell you how to get some Bitcoin for the first time. LocalBitcoins is probably a good place to get started buying Bitcoin via bank transfer, PayPal, or in person.
If you’re using Jaxx you can have your Bitcoin sent to your Bitcoin wallet in Jaxx.
Step 3: Exchange the Bitcoin for Zcash
I recommend ShapeShift for speed and ease of use. If your Bitcoin is in your Jaxx wallet you can use their built-in ShapeShift functionality, otherwise just head over to their website and follow the instructions.
Step 4: Profit!
Well, not profit exactly, but in a few minutes you’ll have your Zcash. Note that Jaxx and ShapeShift only support transparent addresses, so for now you won’t be able to take advantage of the “shielded” transactions which constitute Zcash’s USP. As of now, you’ll have to get involved with the more technical setup to take advantage of the shielding feature.
Of course, since you own the private key, you could easily access the Zcash funds in this wallet via an application with more comprehensive functionality at a later date.