Zether: Towards Privacy in a Smart Contract World

Benedikt Bünz, Shashank Agrawal, Mahdi Zamani, Dan Boneh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Smart contract platforms such as Ethereum and Libra provide ways to seamlessly remove trust and add transparency to various distributed applications. Yet, these platforms lack mechanisms to guarantee user privacy, even at the level of simple payments, which are essential for most smart contracts. In this paper, we propose Zether, a trustless mechanism for privacy-preserving payments in smart contract platforms. We take an account-based approach similar to Ethereum and Libra for efficiency and usability. Zether is implemented as a smart contract that keeps account balances encrypted and exposes methods to deposit, transfer, and withdraw funds to/from accounts through cryptographic proofs at only a small cost. We address several technical challenges to protect Zether against replay attacks and front-running situations and develop a mechanism to enable interoperability with arbitrary smart contracts, making applications like auctions, payment channels, and voting privacy-preserving. To make Zether efficient, we propose-Bullets, a zero-knowledge proof system that is optimized for-protocols. We implement Zether as an Ethereum smart contract and show its practicality by measuring the amount of gas used by the Zether contract. A Zether confidential transaction costs about 0.014 ETH or approximately $1.51 (as of early 2019), which can be drastically reduced with minor changes to Ethereum that we describe in the paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFinancial Cryptography and Data Security - 24th International Conference, FC 2020, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsJoseph Bonneau, Nadia Heninger
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9783030512798
StatePublished - 2020
Event24th International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security, FC 2020 - Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Duration: Feb 10 2020Feb 14 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12059 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference24th International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security, FC 2020
CityKota Kinabalu

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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