J.P. Morgan’s blockchain team has developed a privacy feature for Ethereum-based blockchains, obscuring not only how much money is being sent but who is sending it. The bank has built an extension to the Zether protocol, a fully decentralized, cryptographic protocol for confidential payments, compatible with Ethereum and other smart contract platforms and designed to add a further layer of anonymity to transactions.
Zether, which was built by a group of academics and financial technology researchers including Dan Boneh from Stanford University, uses zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs), a branch of mathematics which allows one party to prove knowledge of some secret value or information without conveying any detail about that secret.
Explaining what the new extension does, Oli Harris, J.P. Morgan’s head of Quorum and crypto-assets strategy, told CoinDesk: “In the basic Zether, the account balances and the transfer accounts are concealed but the participants’ identities are not. So we have solved that. In our implementation, we provide a proof protocol for the anonymous extension in which the sender may hide herself and the transactions recipients in a larger group of parties.”