These zk-SNARKS contests offer $250K rewards for Zcash privacy protocol

One of the most fully decentralized blockchain projects under development right now is looking for a few good zk-SNARKS developers.

Actually, more than a few.

In its latest contest, the Free TON blockchain community has set aside $250,000 in TON Crystal token rewards in a contest aimed at attracting developers who can create Zcash privacy protocols for Free TON.

Running through July 1, the “Groth16 zk-SNARK Proof Verification Use Cases” contest is the first stage in a series of contests aimed at bringing zero-knowledge proofs to the TON Virtual Machine. There will be 10 winners splitting 320,000 TON in amounts varying from 80,000 for first place and 60,000 for second to 5,000 for 10th place.

Winners will be selected by a jury of community-elected experts who will share in the rewards. It’s a process that the community governing the project — there is no controlling foundation — believes is superior to centrally distributed grants or contracts. Among other things, the contests often produce a number of viable solutions.

Which is exactly what the community wants, and another reason for zk-SNARKS experts to enter. This contest is “the first in a series of ‘ZKP contests’ aiming [to motivate the] Free TON developer community to try prepared tools and to crowdsource simple ZKP use cases for testing purposes,” the contest proposal states.

Decentralized from day one

The contest-centric nature of Free TON’s development strategy grew out of the unusual circumstances of Free TON’s birth, which allowed the community to take a different approach to further development.

The highly scalable and secure Free TON blockchain — capable of millions of transactions per second thanks to dynamic sharding — came into being when 17 independent developers came together to salvage the Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain project after a court forced the messaging app developing it as a centralized project to withdraw. 

That allowed Free TON to start with the kind of decentralized community governance that most projects aspire to.

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As a result, all of the five billion TON tokens are community-owned and are being distributed — not sold — via community developed and judged contests that reward contributions that help grow the network. So far, 570 million have been distributed to validators, developers, and partners.

Free TON has held hundreds of contests on topics ranging from Hypercore and smart contract debuggers to online auction implementation and Crystal Wallet design. Nor are the contests all tech-focused. The Free TON Visual Brand Communication Contest had five parts, including memes.

This has allowed Free TON to attract top development teams including RSquad, Broxus, and Origin Labs to take part in its contests.

And it’s had results. On May 25, Free TON won the AIBC Dubai Summit Award for Blockchain Innovation

Privacy is a right

That said, privacy is a subject of particular importance to the community, where the idea that anonymity isn’t just for criminals holds a lot of sway, according to Ben Sunderland, senior community manager of Free TON core developer TON Labs. 

“If we’re going to take back control of our data, the first step is being able to shield it from prying eyes. It should be the choice of the individual whether, or not, to keep their transactions private. This contest signifies the intent of Free TON to really be a force for decentralized anarchy in the world.”

Privacy will continue to play a big part in Free TON’s goals for the coming year, notably in its work on a web server-free, end-to-end decentralized application, as well as the double-sided NFTs known as Numiz, that have a publicly visible side and an owner-only private side. 

Other focuses include a number of Chrome browser wallet extensions and the imminent completion of Free TON’s merger with the Dune Network.

Learn more about Free TON

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