The Top 5 Privacy Coins of 2024

Last updated: Jul 04, 2024
18 Min Read
AI Generated Summary
Privacy coins use advanced cryptographic techniques to ensure transactions are confidential and user identities are protected
Users can maintain control over their data, choosing to share it selectively
By obscuring transaction details, privacy coins can enhance the overall security of user funds
Privacy coins face significant regulatory challenges
The anonymity provided by privacy coins can facilitate illicit activities

In today's digital age, privacy is as coveted as a rare collectible. Just like superheroes guard their secret identities, many of us wish our financial transactions could stay incognito. Enter privacy coins, the Batman of cryptocurrencies, swooping in to protect your financial privacy from prying eyes. These digital currencies are designed to keep your transactions confidential.

Imagine a world where every coffee you buy or every online purchase you make is visible to anyone who cares to look. It's like living in a reality show where your financial life is broadcast to the world. Privacy coins change that narrative. They use advanced tech like zero-knowledge proofs, ring signatures, and stealth addresses to ensure your transactions remain your business only.

In this review of the top privacy coins, we’ll explore Monero (the undisputed champion of privacy) and others that offer things like flexible privacy options, enable privacy-preserving smart contracts, are designed for scalable, confidential apps and are known for speed and privacy. These features and cutting-edge technology is used to keep your financial dealings out of the spotlight. And while we mention Batman, how can we forget the Riddler … the dark side of privacy coins which we also talk about.

However, before we begin, you'd do well to read our article where we explore the evolution of blockchain privacy, examining key innovations and their regulatory implications. The discussion covers the spectrum of privacy, from Bitcoin's pseudonymity to advanced privacy protocols that have sprung up since. 

What are Privacy Coins?

Privacy coins are a specialized category of cryptocurrency designed with the primary objective of ensuring the privacy and anonymity of users and their transactions. Unlike conventional cryptocurrencies, which offer only pseudonymity, privacy coins employ advanced cryptographic techniques to obscure transaction details, thereby enhancing the confidentiality of both the parties involved and the transaction amounts.

Here are the core functionalities of privacy coins:

  1. Anonymity: Privacy coins excel in concealing the identities behind transactions. By obfuscating sender and receiver details, these coins make it challenging to associate any particular transaction with a specific individual. This level of anonymity is crucial for users seeking to maintain their privacy in an increasingly transparent digital world.
  2. Untraceability: One of the standout features of privacy coins is their ability to make transactions untraceable. Unlike regular cryptocurrencies, privacy coins ensure that the transaction trail is hidden. This is achieved through various methods, making it nearly impossible for third parties to follow the flow of funds.
  3. Advanced Cryptography: Privacy coins leverage cutting-edge cryptographic techniques to secure transaction data. Technologies like stealth addresses, ring signatures, and zk-SNARKs (Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Arguments of Knowledge) are commonly used. Stealth addresses generate a unique address for each transaction, ring signatures combine multiple signatures to protect the sender’s identity, and zk-SNARKs allow transactions to be verified without revealing sensitive information.

Overall, privacy coins' advanced cryptographic techniques and commitment to user anonymity make them indispensable in an era where digital privacy is ever more crucial.

Top Privacy Coins
Privacy Coins Help You Conceal Your Identity and Make You Untraceable. Image via ChatGPT

How do Privacy Coins Work?

As we've just discussed, privacy coins employ a range of sophisticated cryptographic techniques to ensure the anonymity and confidentiality of transactions. These techniques are designed to obscure transaction details, making it challenging for third parties to trace or identify the parties involved.

Here’s an overview of some of the primary anonymization techniques used by privacy coins:

Zero-Knowledge Proofs (zk-SNARKs)

Zero-Knowledge Proofs, specifically zk-SNARKs, enable one party to prove to another that they possess certain information without revealing the information itself.

This method is extremely effective at concealing transaction details, offering high levels of privacy and security. The main downside is that zk-SNARKs are computationally intensive and require a trusted setup process, which can be a point of vulnerability.

Ring Signatures

Ring signatures are used to combine multiple users' signatures into a single transaction, thereby obscuring the real sender.

Ring signatures are simpler than zk-SNARKs and do not require a trusted setup, making them easier to implement. They offer less robust anonymity guarantees compared to zk-SNARKs, as the size of the anonymity set can limit the effectiveness.

Stealth Addresses

Stealth addresses generate a unique, one-time address for each transaction, even when multiple transactions are sent to the same recipient.

This technique is very effective at hiding the recipient's address, enhancing privacy. While stealth addresses obscure recipient details, they do not conceal the transaction amounts or the sender’s identity.


Mixing or shuffling involves combining multiple transactions together to obscure their origins and destinations.

Mixing is relatively simple to implement and can effectively hide transaction origins. This method often relies on trusted third parties and does not provide as strong anonymity guarantees as other techniques.

While privacy coins offer a secure and private transaction experience, they also face significant challenges, including increased regulatory scrutiny, potential vulnerabilities to future technological advances such as quantum computing, and lower liquidity and adoption compared to more established cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin

Pseudonymous vs. Anonymous

Understanding the difference between pseudonymous and anonymous transactions in the blockchain world is a bit like understanding the difference between wearing a mask at a masquerade ball and being a ghost. At a masquerade ball, everyone knows there's a person behind the mask, and with some effort, they might figure out who you are. But as a ghost, no one even knows you’re there. Let's dive into this analogy to explore how blockchain technology fits in.

Public Addresses vs. User Identities

In the blockchain universe, every user is given a public address — a unique string of characters that acts like a digital postbox. This address is where cryptocurrencies are sent and received. Think of it as your anonymous masquerade mask. While this mask (or address) isn’t directly linked to your real-world identity, it doesn't guarantee full privacy.

Pseudonymity: Imagine you're at the ball, and everyone is masked. Pseudonymity means that while your identity is concealed, anyone can track your movements at the party. Every step you take, every dance you engage in, can be followed. Similarly, in the blockchain, all your transactions can be traced back to your public address. Although people may not know who you are right away, all your transactions are visible and can be scrutinized. With enough information, someone might unmask you.

Anonymity: Now, picture being a ghost at the same ball. No one can see you or track your movements. In the world of blockchain, true anonymity means that your transactions can't be traced back to your real identity or even linked together. This is achieved through sophisticated cryptographic techniques that obscure the sender, recipient, and transaction amounts, rendering you invisible in the digital crowd.

Privacy Coins 3.jpg
Pseudonymous vs. Anonymous Transactions Are Like Wearing a Wask or Being a Ghost. Image via ChatGPT.

Blockchain Analysis and Real-World Identities

Even though blockchains like Bitcoin are pseudonymous, it's possible to track transactions and potentially link them to real-world identities through blockchain analysis. This process is akin to analyzing the movements of masked dancers to guess who they might be. For instance, if you slip up and reveal your mask (or public address) in a social media post or news article, it’s game over— all your past and future transactions can be traced back to you.

That's why it's crucial to practice good digital hygiene, just as you would keep your mask securely in place at the ball. Avoid sharing your public address publicly to maintain your pseudonymity.

However, some privacy-focused coins, like Monero and Zcash, offer a much more secure solution. They use advanced cryptographic techniques to make tracking transactions a Herculean task.

Top Privacy Coins

As the demand for financial privacy continues to grow, several privacy coins have emerged, each employing unique technologies to ensure the confidentiality of transactions. These coins are designed to offer anonymity and untraceability, making them appealing to users who prioritize privacy.

In this section, we'll highlight the top privacy coins, starting with Monero.


Monero (XMR) is the undisputed king of privacy-focused cryptocurrencies.

Launched in 2014, it has established itself as the most private, secure and untraceable digital currency available. Monero's advanced privacy features make it virtually impossible to trace transactions or connect them to individual users. Unlike other privacy coins offering optional anonymity, Monero mandates privacy protections for all transactions by default, solidifying its position as the premier choice for those seeking the utmost privacy in their digital transactions.

Here are a few Monero-centric articles on the Coin Bureau blog that go into detail on each aspect of this crypto:

The Undisputed King of Privacy-Focused Cryptocurrencies. Image via Monero

So, how does Monero weave its magic?

  • Ring Signatures: These obscure the sender's identity by mixing the user's account keys with others, creating a "ring" of possible signers. This makes it nearly impossible to identify the actual sender.
  • Stealth Addresses: Monero generates a unique, one-time address for each incoming transaction, hiding the recipient's identity and making it impossible to link transactions to the wallet's actual address.
  • Ring Confidential Transactions (RingCT): This hides transaction amounts, as well as sender and recipient identities, using Pedersen commitments and range proofs to verify transaction amounts without revealing actual values.

Here are a few key features that have made Monero the largest privacy coin by market cap:

  • Privacy by Default: All transactions are private by default, ensuring consistent confidentiality without user intervention.
  • Unlimited Emission: Monero has an unlimited coin supply to maintain mining incentives and network security.
  • ASIC-Resistant Mining: The RandomX algorithm resists specialized mining hardware, promoting decentralized mining.
  • Fungibility: All Monero coins are equally interchangeable and indistinguishable, preventing discrimination based on transaction history.


Launched in 2016 by scientists from MIT, Johns Hopkins, and other prestigious institutions, Zcash was built on Bitcoin's original codebase but introduced advanced cryptographic techniques to enhance transaction privacy.

Once again, we'll provide a brief overview of the tech underlying Zcash. If you'd like to get into the nitty-gritty, you can read the following articles:

Zcash Was Built on Bitcoin's Original Codebase. Image via Zcash

Here are the privacy-enhancing technologies Zcash employs:

  • zk-SNARKs: Zcash utilizes zk-SNARKs to enable shielded transactions. This cryptographic method allows one party to prove to another that a statement is true without revealing any information beyond the validity of the statement. Shielded transactions can be fully encrypted on the blockchain, providing robust privacy.
  • Shielded and Transparent Transactions: Zcash offers users the option to send both shielded (private) and transparent (public) transactions. Transparent transactions function similarly to Bitcoin, where transaction details are visible on the blockchain. In contrast, shielded transactions encrypt the sender, recipient, and amount, ensuring complete privacy.

Key Features

  • Privacy Flexibility: Unlike Monero, where privacy is mandatory, Zcash gives users the flexibility to choose between shielded and transparent transactions based on their needs.
  • Self-Funding Mechanism: A portion of Zcash mining rewards is allocated to fund the development and maintenance of the network, ensuring continuous improvement and sustainability.
  • Shorter Confirmation Times: Zcash transactions have shorter confirmation times compared to Bitcoin, enhancing its usability for everyday transactions.

Secret Network

Secret Network is a blockchain protocol designed to enable privacy-preserving smart contracts. Launched in 2020, Secret Network allows developers to build decentralized applications (DApps) that can handle encrypted data, ensuring that both the inputs and outputs of computations remain confidential.

Secret Network Allows Developers to BuildDApps That Can Handle Encrypted Data. Image via Secret Network

Here's how it enhances privacy:

  • Secret Contracts: These are private-by-default smart contracts where the input, output, and state are all encrypted. This ensures that sensitive data processed within the contracts remains confidential unless access is explicitly granted. This is a significant departure from traditional public blockchains, where all transaction data is visible to everyone.
  • Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs): Secret Network nodes use TEEs, which function as secure enclaves. These environments process data while keeping it hidden from the node operators themselves, ensuring robust privacy protection during computation.

Key Features

  • Viewing Keys: Secret Network users have the ability to generate viewing keys that can be shared with third parties, such as auditors or explorers, to selectively grant access to specific data. This feature empowers users with control over their data privacy.
  • Interoperability: Secret Network is built using the Cosmos SDK and supports the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol. This allows it to interact seamlessly with other blockchains in the Cosmos ecosystem, enhancing its utility and integration potential.

Secret Network continues to innovate, with plans to enhance its Confidential Computing Layer and improve interoperability. The roadmap for 2024 includes initiatives to integrate with Ethereum-compatible tools, research scalability solutions, and strengthen network security.

Oasis Network

Oasis Network is designed to support scalable and confidential DApps. Launched in 2018, Oasis aims to provide high throughput and low latency through its architecture, which separates consensus and execution into two distinct layers: the Consensus Layer and the ParaTime Layer. This design allows for parallel execution of transactions across multiple ParaTimes, enhancing the network's scalability and efficiency.

Oasis Uses Confidential Smart Contracts Known as Secret Contracts. Image via Oasis

Privacy-Enhancing Technologies

  • Confidential Smart Contracts: Like Secret Network, Oasis uses confidential smart contracts, known as Secret Contracts, to ensure that data is encrypted and private during processing. This enables applications to handle sensitive information securely without exposing it to unauthorized parties.
  • Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs): The network employs TEEs to safeguard data during computation. These environments act as secure enclaves that process data while keeping it hidden from node operators and other external entities.

Oasis features a unique ParaTime architecture that supports multiple parallel compute environments, known as ParaTimes. Each ParaTime is optimized for different use cases, allowing developers to create customized execution environments tailored to specific applications. This design enhances both scalability and flexibility.

Another key feature is data tokenization. Oasis enables users to tokenize their data, maintaining control over their information while selectively sharing it. Users can earn rewards by staking their data with applications that wish to analyze it, introducing a new model of data monetization.

Oasis also supports interoperability with other blockchains through the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol. This capability allows Oasis to integrate seamlessly with the broader Cosmos ecosystem and other blockchain networks.


Dash is a digital currency designed for fast, low-cost transactions globally. Launched in 2014 by Evan Duffield, Dash was initially based on Bitcoin’s codebase but has since evolved to include several unique features aimed at enhancing speed and privacy. The primary goal of Dash is to make digital cash accessible to everyone, offering a user-friendly and scalable payments solution.

Here are a few Dash-focused articles for your perusal:

The PrivateSend Feature Allows Users to Mix Their Transactions With Others. Image via Dash

Dash's PrivateSend feature allows users to mix their transactions with others, making it difficult to trace the origin of funds. PrivateSend uses a coin-mixing service that anonymizes transactions by blending them with multiple others, ensuring the privacy of the transaction's source.

Here are a few key features of Dash:

  • InstantSend: Dash enables near-instant transactions using its masternode network. Transactions are confirmed within 1-2 seconds, making it ideal for everyday purchases and time-sensitive payments. This is achieved by locking the inputs of the transaction in the masternode network, preventing double-spending.
  • Masternodes: Dash’s network is built on a two-tier structure. The first tier consists of standard mining operations, while the second tier is made up of masternodes. These masternodes facilitate PrivateSend, InstantSend, and the decentralized governance and budgeting system of Dash. To operate a masternode, users must hold a minimum of 1,000 DASH ($22,450 today), providing both stability and security to the network.
  • Sporks: Dash uses Sporks to implement new features and upgrades without hard-forking the network. This innovative approach ensures network stability and seamless integration of new functionalities.
  • X11 Algorithm: Dash uses the X11 hashing algorithm, which enhances security and energy efficiency. X11 employs 11 different hashing functions, providing increased protection against certain types of attacks compared to single-hash algorithms.

What Regulators Think of Privacy Coins

For all their might, privacy coins pose significant challenges for compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations. AML/KYC frameworks are designed to prevent illicit activities by requiring the identification of users and monitoring of transactions for suspicious behavior. The anonymity provided by privacy coins can hinder these efforts, making it difficult for exchanges and service providers to ensure regulatory compliance.

To address these risks, regulators are considering various measures:

  • Banning Privacy Coin Listings: Some jurisdictions may prohibit the listing of privacy coins on regulated exchanges to limit their accessibility.
  • Stricter KYC/AML Requirements: Exchanges dealing with privacy coins might face more stringent KYC/AML requirements to enhance oversight.
  • Designating Privacy Coins as Anonymity-Enhanced Cryptocurrencies (AECs): Such a designation could subject privacy coins to additional reporting and monitoring.

In June 2022, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released updated guidance on virtual assets, recommending that countries consider the money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) risks posed by privacy coins and implement appropriate measures to mitigate these risks.

Different countries have adopted varying approaches to regulating privacy coins:

  • Japan: Japan has outright banned privacy coins like due to concerns over their potential misuse for illicit activities.
  • South Korea: Exchanges in South Korea cannot list privacy coins.
  • United States: The U.S. has not banned privacy coins but has taken enforcement actions against privacy coin mixers like Tornado Cash.
  • European Union: The EU's Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation includes stricter requirements for privacy coins.

Advocates argue that privacy is a fundamental right, and privacy coins are essential for protecting user anonymity. However, to adapt to the evolving regulatory landscape, privacy coins might need to implement optional privacy features rather than enforcing privacy by default. Cooperation with regulators to develop compliance frameworks and focusing on legitimate use cases could help privacy coins maintain their relevance while addressing regulatory concerns.

The Dark Side of Privacy Coins

Time to get down to brass tacks.

Privacy coins have garnered a reputation for facilitating illegal activities. While they offer significant benefits for personal privacy, they also pose challenges for law enforcement and regulatory bodies. This section explores the other side of privacy coins.

Privacy Coins 2.jpg
While they offer significant benefits for personal privacy, they also pose challenges for law enforcement and regulatory bodies. Image via ChatGPT.

Privacy coins like Monero and Zcash are popular on darknet markets due to their enhanced privacy features. These coins make it difficult for authorities to trace transactions and identify parties involved in illegal activities. For instance, the sale of illegal drugs, such as fentanyl, on darknet markets is often conducted using privacy coins to obfuscate transaction trails. 

One high-profile example is the use of Monero and Bitcoin by U.S.-based drug vendors on platforms like Abacus Market to sell fentanyl-laced products, contributing to the opioid crisis. These transactions are notoriously difficult for law enforcement to track, complicating efforts to combat drug trafficking.

Beyond drug trafficking, privacy coins are used for various other illicit activities, including tax evasion, fraud, and money laundering. For example, cybercriminal groups often use these coins to launder stolen funds through mixers and cross-chain bridges, making it challenging to trace the origins of the money. The 2024 Chainalysis Money Laundering Report notes a significant increase in funds sent to gambling platforms and cross-chain bridges from ransomware wallets, indicating sophisticated money laundering tactics.

These illicit uses underscore the importance of responsible utilization of privacy coins. While they provide essential privacy for legitimate users, they also necessitate enhanced scrutiny to prevent misuse. Regulatory bodies have been active in addressing these challenges, with measures like sanctions and the shutdown of illicit services. For instance, Operation SpecTor led to the arrest of 288 individuals involved in darknet drug trafficking and the seizure of significant amounts of cash and cryptocurrency.

Top Privacy Coins: Closing Thoughts

With great power comes great responsibility!

Privacy coins are a double-edged sword — they offer crucial privacy for legitimate users but can also be misused by those with less noble intentions. Regulators are in a perpetual game of cat and mouse, trying to balance the scales between privacy and security. It's like trying to catch The Riddler in Gotham; every time you think you’ve got him, he’s already three steps ahead, leaving behind only cryptic clues. For the crypto community, the challenge is to innovate responsibly. This means developing privacy technologies that protect users while also incorporating safeguards to prevent misuse. 

As you venture further into the crypto world, remember that privacy is not just about hiding; it’s about protecting your freedom and rights in a digital age where surveillance is becoming the norm. So, whether you’re a seasoned crypto enthusiast or just starting out, privacy coins offer a fascinating glimpse into the future of digital finance, where your financial privacy is guarded.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are privacy coins and how do they differ from regular cryptocurrencies?

Privacy coins are cryptocurrencies designed to ensure the privacy and anonymity of transactions. Unlike regular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which offer pseudonymity, privacy coins use advanced cryptographic techniques to obscure transaction details, making them untraceable. Techniques include zero-knowledge proofs, ring signatures, and stealth addresses.

How do privacy coins like Monero and Zcash enhance transaction privacy?

Monero uses ring signatures, stealth addresses, and Ring Confidential Transactions (RingCT) to conceal transaction details. Zcash employs zk-SNARKs (Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Arguments of Knowledge) to enable shielded transactions that encrypt the sender, recipient, and amount, ensuring robust privacy.

Why are privacy coins often associated with illegal activities?

Privacy coins can be misused for illicit activities such as money laundering, tax evasion, and drug trafficking because their enhanced privacy features make it difficult for authorities to trace transactions. This has led to increased regulatory scrutiny and measures to mitigate the risks associated with these coins.

What are some real-world examples of privacy coins being used for illegal purposes?

Privacy coins have been used on darknet markets for transactions involving illegal drugs, such as fentanyl. For instance, U.S.-based drug vendors have used Monero and Bitcoin on platforms like Abacus Market to sell fentanyl-laced products, complicating law enforcement efforts to track and combat these activities.

How do regulators view and address the challenges posed by privacy coins?

Regulators are concerned about the potential misuse of privacy coins for money laundering and terrorism financing. Measures being considered include banning privacy coin listings on regulated exchanges, imposing stricter KYC/AML requirements, and designating privacy coins as Anonymity-Enhanced Cryptocurrencies (AECs) subject to additional reporting and monitoring.

WhatsApp Image 2024-06-05 at 16.56.36.jpeg

I have over 15 years of experience in writing for various organizations. I have a diverse portfolio of writing, vetting, and editing articles, blogs, website content, scripts, and slogans across a variety of industries. I write fiction in my spare time, and I'm looking forward to getting published with my first set of short stories.

Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

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