ZIP: 222
Title: Transparent Zcash Extensions
Owners: Jack Grigg <>
        Kris Nuttycombe <>
Credits: Zaki Manian
         Daira Hopwood
         Sean Bowe
Status: Draft
Category: Consensus
Created: 2019-07-01
License: MIT


The key words "MUST" and "MAY" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119. 1

The term "network upgrade" in this document is to be interpreted as described in ZIP 200 2.

The term "prefix-free" in this document is to be interpreted as to mean that no valid encoding of a value may have the same binary representation as any prefix of the binary encoding of another value of the same type.

The term "non-malleable" in this document is to be interpreted as described in ZIP 244 3.

The value MAX_MONEY is as defined in section 5.3 'Constants' of the Zcash Protocol Specification 8.


This proposal defines a modification to the consensus rules that enables complex forms of transparent output preconditions to be deployed in network upgrades. This in turn enables the creation of "transparent Zcash extensions" that augment the network's functionality in a carefully-defined and auditable fashion.


Zcash supports a limited set of preconditions that may be imposed upon how funds, both transparent and shielded, may be spent. Spending limitations on transparent funds are defined by what may be encoded in Bitcoin script, and spending of shielded funds is even more restricted. As such, some use cases (for example, integration of BOLT support 5) are not yet supportable.

Transparent Zcash Extensions are intended to make it possible to incrementally add new functionality without modifying interpretation of the existing Bitcoin script, which is complex and potentially error-prone. Extensions may also serve as laboratories for evaluating demand for functionality which may eventually be candidates for inclusion in the consensus rules for shielded transactions.


To set conditions that must be satisfied in order to spend some or all of a transaction's outputs.
A challenge that must be satisfied in order to gain spending authority over an encumbered amount.
Evidence to be evaluated against the challenge encoded by a precondition.


Transparent Extensions

Transparent Extensions are modular software components that are distributed as part of the code of consensus implementations. An extension defines interpretation rules for several new pieces of data that are included as part of a transaction.

A Transparent Extension is identified by a numeric type. A Transparent Extension may also have several modes of operation, corresponding to different kinds of encumbrance within the extension's overall protocol.

The following three values are made available to the extension (in addition to type):

  • A numeric mode.
  • A byte sequence precondition containing an encoding of the precondition that is prefix-free within this (type, mode).
  • A byte sequence witness containing an encoding of evidence purporting to satisfy the precondition. This encoding MUST be prefix-free within this (type, mode).

The extension is responsible for providing mode-specific parsing and serialization of these data fields. In addition, the extension MUST implement a deterministic verification algorithm tze_verify that takes as arguments mode, precondition, witness, and a context object. The context object provides deterministic public information about the transaction as well as the block chain (up to and including the block that the transaction is mined in). It returns true if the precondition is satisfied in that context, and false otherwise.

An extension MAY request that arbitrary public information about the transaction and block chain be included in the context object provided to it; these requirements MUST be satisfied by a caller integrating the extension at the integration point. Extensions SHOULD restrict the information requested to that which may be provided by node implementations in an efficient manner. For example, an extension SHOULD NOT require that it be provided full blocks in order to be able to construct or validate a precondition, and SHOULD minimize transaction data requested to that which are essential for its computational needs. In addition, while some preprocessing by the consensus-validating node may be requested, construction of such contextual data SHOULD NOT impose significant computational costs.

ZIPs that define a new transparent extension MUST completely specify the structure of all three of the specified values for each defined mode, as well as the behavior of tze_verify and any contextual information required.

The encoded forms of precondition and witness are not required to be constant-length, but SHOULD be solely determined by the pair (type, mode).

The introduction of TZEs by this ZIP produces a new transparent unspent outpoint set, distinct from the UTXO set, such that indices into this set of outpoints may be referred to by TZE inputs in spending transactions.

Encoding in transactions

We define a new transaction format that contains two new fields:

  • tze_outputs: A list of pairs of:
    • The value being encumbered.
    • The precondition that must be satisfied to spend the value.
  • tze_inputs: A list of pairs of:
    • An outpoint referencing a prior precondition.
    • A witness that satisfies it.

The transaction format is required to be non-malleable, in the sense that any change to the effects of the transaction will change its transaction ID, but any valid change to a witness inside tze_inputs will not change the transaction ID. This will be specified in a separate ZIP.

A new version <TBD> transaction format and corresponding version group identifier <TBD> will be introduced in the hard-fork network upgrade that introduces TZE functionality. The version <TBD> format differs from the version 4 transaction format as follows: a length-prefixed encoding of TZE inputs and outputs are added to the serialized transaction format immediately following the fields representing transparent inputs and outputs.

Version Field Description Type
... ... as before ... ...
>= 1 tx_in_count variable-length integer compactSize
>= 1 tx_in list of inputs vector
>= 1 tx_out_count variable-length integer compactSize
>= 1 tx_out list of outputs vector
>= <TBD> tze_in_count variable-length integer compactSize
>= <TBD> tze_in list of TZE inputs vector
>= <TBD> tze_out_count variable-length integer compactSize
>= <TBD> tze_out list of TZE outputs vector
>= 1 lock_time block height or timestamp uint32
... ... as before ... ...

Both tze_in and tze_out vectors make use of the common serialized form tze_data described below. Serialization of all integer and vector types is as with Bitcoin.

tze_data encoding:

Field Description Type
tze_id extension type compactSize
tze_mode extension mode compactSize
tze_data_payload_len length of precondition/witness data compactSize
tze_data_payload serialized precondition/witness data tze_data_payload_len bytes

TZE Input Encoding:

Field Description Type
prevout_hash previous txid uint256
prevout_in index into previous txn's outputs uint32
witness witness for prevout's precondition tze_data

TZE Output Encoding:

Field Description Type
amount spendable amount, in zatoshi int64
precondition encodes a precondition encumbering amount tze_data

Consensus rules

Once this ZIP becomes active, the following new consensus rules are enforced:

  • For each (outpoint, witness) pair in tze_inputs:
    • outpoint MUST reference a precondition of the same type and mode in an already-mined transaction.
    • tze_verify(mode, precondition, witness, context) MUST return true.
  • If a transaction has non-empty tze_inputs and non-empty tze_outputs, then every element in both fields MUST have the same type in order to eliminate the possibility for cross-extension attacks. As this is not a consideration in the case that only tze_inputs or only tze_outputs are present, the extension type MAY vary between elements in that case.
  • Non-coinbase transactions MUST have at least one of the following: - nonempty transparent inputs - nonempty shielded inputs - nonempty tze_inputs

The above rule replaces [Sapling onward] At least one of tx_in_count, nShieldedSpend, and nJoinSplit MUST be nonzero in 9.

  • Transactions MUST have at least one of the following: - nonempty transparent outputs - nonempty shielded outputs - nonempty tze_outputs
  • All amount field values of tze_output records MUST be nonnegative and not greater than MAX_MONEY.
  • The sum of amounts going out of the transparent value pool of a transaction (that is, Bitcoin-style outputs and TZE outputs, plus JoinSplit vpub_old values) MUST NOT exceed the sum of amounts going into that pool (that is, Bitcoin-style inputs and TZE inputs, plus JoinSplit vpub_new values, plus the Sapling valueBalance amount).

Changes to signatures over transaction digests

This ZIP MUST be deployed in conjunction with or after ZIP 244 3, which defines new non-malleable transaction identifier and signature digest algorithms.

The newly added parts of the transaction, excluding witness information (i.e. not the witness fields of TZE Input Encodings), will be included in transaction digests for transaction identifiers and signatures. See ZIP 245 4 for the specification of these new digests. If the changes in this ZIP are deployed, those described in ZIP 245 MUST be deployed as well.


Transactions that have both TZE inputs and outputs are required to use a single extension type, in order to prevent cross-protocol attacks. The downside is that this prevents all TZE-encumbered value from being spent directly into a different TZE type; the value needs to go through a regular address in between. This restriction might be relaxed in future ZIPs for specific combinations of (type, mode) pairs that have been analyzed for cross-protocol attacks, but we opt here for a fail-safe default behaviour.

Transactions with TZE inputs which do not contain TZE outputs are not subject to single-extension or single-mode restrictions; likewise, transactions which contain TZE outputs without any TZE inputs may produce TZE outputs for multiple extension-type/mode pairs as the potential for cross-protocol attacks in this situation is negligible.

An earlier draft version of this ZIP stored the payloads inside transparent inputs and outputs. Although this had the advantage of not requiring a transaction format change, the consensus rules were significantly more complicated, and the design coupled the extension logic too tightly to the transparent address logic. Instead, this ZIP uses dedicated transaction fields, and a separate unspent output set.

Security and Privacy Considerations for Future TZE Implementations

This ZIP assumes that the base transaction format is non-malleable. However, the precondition and witness byte sequences are treated here as opaque. It is the responsibility of tze_verify to enforce the following:

ZIPs defining new extension types MUST include a section explaining how any potential sources of malleability are handled.

This ZIP includes restrictions to prevent cross-protocol attacks, but the extension mode is another potential attack surface. It is the responsibility of ZIPs defining new extensions to examine the potential for cross-mode attacks within their security analysis, and/or appropriately restrict which modes may be combined within a single transaction.

Reference Implementation


The handler semantics of tze_verify were suggested by Zaki Manian, drawing on the design of Cosmos. Daira Hopwood and Sean Bowe gave useful feedback on an early draft of this ZIP, and helped to analyse the various sources of transaction ID malleability.

We would also like to thank the numerous other individuals who participated in discussions at Zcon1 that led to the earlier draft version of this ZIP.


1 RFC 2119: Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels
2 ZIP 200: Network Upgrade Activation Mechanism
3 ZIP 244: Transaction Non-Malleability Support
4 ZIP 245: Transaction Identifier Digests & Signature Validation for Transparent Zcash Extensions
5 Draft ZIP: Add support for Blind Off-chain Lightweight Transactions (Bolt) protocol
6 Section 2: Notation. Zcash Protocol Specification, Version 2019.0.2 [Overwinter+Sapling]
7 ZIP 32: Shielded Hierarchical Deterministic Wallets
8 Zcash Protocol Specification, Version 2020.1.15 or later
9 Zcash Protocol Specification, Version 2020.1.15. Section 7.1: Transaction Encoding and Consensus
10 Rust language reference implementation of TZE API
11 zcashd reference implementation of consensus rule changes