A Zcash Holder’s Guide to Accessing Ycash
How to access the YEC associated with your ZEC private keys
The Ycash/Zcash chain fork will occur at block height 570,000 (approximately July 18, 2019). At that point of the chain, if you have custody of your private keys associated with an amount of ZEC on the Zcash blockchain, you’ll have the option to use those private keys to access the same amount of YEC on the Ycash blockchain.
This guide discusses potential methods for accessing your YEC.
This guide will be updated to correct for any errors brought to our attention. Feedback is welcome.
Important Note: There is no 100% risk-free way to access your YEC, so if you decide to do so, you do so at your own risk of losing both your YEC and your ZEC.
- Legal Disclaimer. If you decide to try to access your YEC, YOU DO SO COMPLETELY AT YOUR OWN RISK. This guide is provided “as is”, without warranty of any kind, express or implied. In no event shall the Ycash Foundation be liable for any claim, including but not limited to claims arising from your decision to use this guide, your decision to try to access your YEC, or any loss of funds (YEC or ZEC).
- Proceed with the upmost caution. Handling your private keys is risky. Anytime you handle your private keys, you risk losing your funds. For example, if you download your private keys to a compromised computer, both your YEC and ZEC will likely be stolen.
- Ycash is a chain fork, not an airdrop. Air airdrop occurs “when token creators decide to distribute free tokens to holders of other established tokens.” Ycash is not an airdrop. No coins are being distributed to anyone. Rather, Ycash is a chain fork. At block height 570,000, the blockchain that begins with the Zcash Genesis Block will fork into two different chains, one called Ycash and one called Zcash. If you happen to be in custody of ZEC private keys at that point, those private keys will now also be YEC private keys.
- The deadline for transferring ZEC from exchanges (and other third parties) to your own wallet is block height 570,000 (block height 569,900 to be safe). If your ZEC is held by an exchange at block height 570,000, then the exchange controls the private keys associated with your ZEC and YEC, not you. Whether you will ultimately receive your YEC from the exchange is entirely up to the exchange. In order to account for the rare occurrence of a long chain reorganization, it is best to obtain custody of your ZEC by 100 blocks before the fork (block height 569,900), which will occur approximately 4 hours and 10 minutes before the fork.
- If you have custody your ZEC private keys at block height 570,000, there currently is no deadline for ultimately accessing your YEC (but a deadline may arise in the future). Once you meet the custody deadline of block height 570,000, there currently is no deadline after that for ultimately accessing your YEC. However, a deadline may arise in the future. For example, if the Ycash Sprout Pool was ever deprecated (and there are no current plans to do so), users holding ZEC in the Zcash Sprout Pool at the time of the fork would have a deadline for moving their YEC out of the Ycash Sprout Pool.
- Long Chain Reorganizations. As mentioned above, beware of transferring YEC or ZEC around the time of the fork. Due to the rare possibility of long chain reorganizations, it is best to conduct transactions either before block height 569,900 or after block height 570,100.
- Required Reading. Before using this guide, please review this short tweet stream from David Campbell, currently Chief Operating Officer of the Electric Coin Company, regarding best practices for accessing your YEC: https://twitter.com/alchemyDC/status/1149766568907198464
Overview: Two Ways of Accessing Your YEC
Below we will cover two different ways to access your YEC. The first, which we’ll call “The Easy Way”, involves utilizing a third party wallet provider that has pledged to support the fork. The second, which will call “The Advanced Way”, involves importing your ZEC private keys into YecWallet.
The Easy Way
Thanks to a handful of amazing third party wallet providers, there is an easy way for ZEC holders to access their YEC. The definitive list of wallet providers that have announced support for the Ycash/Zcash chain fork is here:
Steps for The Easy Way
- Download one of the third party wallets in the list above.
- In advance of both the fork and any pre-fork deadline set by the wallet provider, transfer your ZEC to the wallet.
- Fork occurs.
- Wait for the wallet provider to make your YEC balance accessible in the wallet.
- Once you have access to your YEC balance, you can optionally transfer your ZEC back to however it was held previously.
Benefits of The Easy Way
- No need to export private keys.
- No need download the entire blockchain.
- Even if the wallet provider fails to provide the support for Ycash that it promised, you can still export your private keys and access your YEC using The Advanced Way.
Drawbacks of The Easy Way
- Only transparent addresses are supported.
- You have to perform steps 1 and 2 in advance of the fork.
- You will have to wait until the wallet provider makes your YEC available to you, which could range anywhere from immediately after the fork to a few days after the fork (or longer if problems arise).
The Advanced Way
The advanced way involves importing your Zcash private keys into YecWallet. Download YecWallet here:
- Obtain Custody: By block height 569,900 (100 blocks before the fork), make sure that all of your ZEC is associated with private keys in your custody. Let’s call this set of addresses associated with these private keys “Address Set M”.
- Wait 100 blocks.
- Fork occurs at block height 570,000.
- Wait 100 blocks, until block height 570,100.
- Export the private keys associated with Address Set M
- Transfer your ZEC to one or more new addresses, which we will call Address Set N.
- Import the private keys associated with Address Set M into YecWallet.
- Allow YecWallet to rescan the blockchain. (This may take several hours.)
(Note the 100 block wait periods are to protect against the rare occurrence of long chain reorganizations. Zcash does not allow chain reorganizations longer than 100 blocks.)
Benefits of The Advanced Way
- All Zcash address types are supported, included shielded Sapling addresses and shielded Sprout addresses.
- You don’t have to wait for any third party wallet provider to give you access to your YEC.
- Step 7 above decouples your ZEC private keys and YEC private keys. Your ZEC is no longer in Address Set M. If the private keys associated with Address Set M are compromised in the future, only your YEC would be at risk, not your ZEC (assuming that there were no subsequent ZEC transfers to Address Set M).
- By running YecWallet, you will join the ranks of users running Ycash full nodes!
Drawbacks of The Advanced Way
- You’ll have to download, index, and verify the entire blockchain, which is around 22 GB at the time of this writing. Depending on the power of you computer, this could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
- Once you import your private keys, YecWallet will need to rescan the entire blockchain, which could take several hours to complete.
Do You Have Custody of your ZEC?
The first step in The Advanced Way is obtaining custody of your ZEC. You likely have have custody of your ZEC if it is stored in one of the following wallets in your possession:
- ZecWallet (and other wallets that run on top of zcashd)
- A wallet that has a BIP39 seed phrase (mnemonic), including but not limited: to Exodus and Coinomi
- A hardware wallet
- A paper wallet like ZecPaperWallet
You do not have custody of your ZEC if it is stored at:
- An exchange
- A third party that offers custodial services
Exporting Your ZEC Private Keys
The section pertains primary to users who decide to use The Advanced Way of accessing their YEC.
Once you obtain custody of your ZEC, you should confirm that you are able to export your private keys. Although some general guidance is below, you should refer to the instructions provided by your wallet provider.
Many wallets, including Exodus, Coinomi, BitPie, and Guarda support the BIP39 standard. BIP39 describes a method for using a mnemoic code (seed phrase) to generate deterministic wallets.
Ian Coleman provides a well-regarded BIP39 “Mnemonic Code Converter” that you can use to export your private keys from a BIP39 wallet:
Many wallets recommend using this site. For example, Coinomi recommends Ian Coleman’s Converter. For added security, as Coinomi also suggests, consider downloading the html page at the URL above and using the Converter on an offline, air-gapped computer.
ZecWallet users, please see the following documentation:
- https://docs.zecwallet.co/video-tutorials/#export-private-keys (video)
By design, hardware wallets are meant to keep your private keys safe by keeping them contained on the hardware device itself. It is possible to export your private keys from at least some hardware wallets, but not without reducing the security of your hardware wallet going forward.
Furthermore, if you have misplaced your mnemonic seed phrase, you will NOT be able to export your private keys.
A important post-fork goal of the Ycash Foundation is to work with providers of hardware wallets to add support for Ycash, although such support likely requires the cooperation of those providers, and that cooperation is not guaranteed.
If you decide you want to risk exporting your private keys from your hardware wallet, please consult your hardware wallet’s documentation. Here are some relevant links:
- Ledger: https://support.ledger.com/hc/en-us/articles/115005297709-Export-your-accounts
Again, if you decide to export your private keys from your hardware wallet, you have reduced the security of your hardware wallet going forward. See the method below for way to maintain the the integrity of your hardware wallet
Accessing YEC Private Keys While Maintaining The Integrity of your ZEC Hardware Wallet
This technique, previously discussed on Reddit shortly after the announcement of Ycash, involves buying a second hardware wallet. We’ll call your current hardware wallet W1 and your brand new (never used) hardware wallet W2. Here are the steps:
- At least 100 blocks before the fork, transfer all your ZEC on W1 to W2. (If you have other types of coins on W1, leave them on W1.)
- At least 100 blocks after the fork, transfer all your ZEC on W2 back to W1.
- At this point, all of your coins, including all of your ZEC, are safely on W1.
- Feed your seed phrase from W2 into software that generates your private keys (like Ian Coleman’s Mneomic Code Converter).
- Import your private keys into YecWallet.
- Reseed W2, since the seed phrase that you typed in to your computer in Step 4 now can’t be trusted as much as a fresh seed phrase generated on W2 itself.
Below is a list of guides from third party wallet providers for how to access your YEC. We will add to this list as new guides are published.
Guides from Wallet Providers: