The Rise of On-Chain Privacy: A DarkFi Research Roundup

Samuel McCulloch
Samuel McCulloch
Nov 9, 2023
The Rise of On-Chain Privacy: A DarkFi Research Roundup

In the spirit of our Nocturne interview, we wanted to share a list of other "DarkFi" networks and protocols that are operational or in development. We're big believers in on-chain privacy and the need to keep one's assets confidential and secure.

We've taken the list from "Diving Into Dark Pools" a comprehensive overview of the Dark Fi space by Muhammad Yusuf, who works at Delphi. Use this list for research purposes and to learn more about active projects building for crypto privacy.

Layer One's


Aleo is a privacy-focused Layer-1 blockchain that leverages zero-knowledge proofs to validate transactions without exposing sensitive personal information. This technology allows individuals to provide verification of certain credentials or properties—such as being over the age of 21—without revealing the underlying data, such as their date of birth.


Anoma is a Proof-of-Stake blockchain that creates and executes transactions based on user-expressed intents using privacy-preserving techniques. It allows users to declare their trading intentions - what they want to buy or sell, along with specific conditions - which are then matched with others. This intent-centric system leverages a combination of gossip and matchmaking nodes, enabling a new form of programmable settlement. Privacy is also a cornerstone of Anoma, utilizing zk-SNARKs within its multi-asset shielded pool to ensure transaction details remain confidential, enhancing user anonymity.

Iron Fish

Iron Fish is a Proof of Work blockchain emphasizing privacy with fully encrypted transactions using zero-knowledge proofs to conceal sender, recipient, and amount details. Wallets feature a triple-key system comprising private, public, and view keys, where the view key can be shared to selectively disclose transaction history.


Mina is a lightweight L1 due to its consistent 22KB blockchain size, made possible by advanced zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs). It's the first crypto with a succinct blockchain, which doesn't grow in size over time.

Mina uses zero-knowledge smart contracts, termed zkApps, that are written in TypeScript, enabling smart contracts with unique features like unlimited off-chain computation and enhanced data privacy. Mina's network is secured by a proof of stake (PoS) consensus mechanism called Ouroboros Samasika, a less resource-intensive alternative to proof of work (PoW) systems, allowing users to participate in network validation either by running a node or by staking their MINA tokens through delegation.

Namada - Asset-Agnostic Multichain Privacy Blockchain


Namada is an proof-of-stake Layer 1 blockchain designed for interchain privacy across various asset types. It allows for private transactions of both fungible and non-fungible tokens by utilizing an advanced multi-asset shielded pool (MASP) mechanism. 

The protocol's design supports low-latency transactions with minimal fees, leveraging fast zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) generation suitable for edge devices, meaning users can engage in private transactions through browser apps. Namada also offers interchain operability with fast-finality chains through the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol and a trustless two-way bridge with Ethereum.

Neptune — sea of freedom


Neptune is designed for anonymity and secure transactions using zk-STARKs. Neptune's unique mutator sets ensure privacy and it's built to be resistant to quantum computer threats.


Nym is a privacy infrastructure designed to prevent surveillance by disguising the flow of internet traffic and protecting user data. It operates through a sophisticated mixnet, which scrambles data packets with others', effectively masking the metadata like sender, recipient, and timing. This process renders the user's digital footprint untraceable. In addition to the mixnet, Nym uses Coconut, a privacy-preserving credential system, to create secure access control for applications. The platform's native blockchain, Nyx, based on the Cosmos SDK, integrates smart contracts and a native token, NYM, to facilitate transactions and incentivize operation of the network.

Designatives - Work - Graphic identity creation for Penumbra


Penumbra is a privacy-focused, proof-of-stake blockchain designed for the Cosmos network. It allows users within the Cosmos ecosystem to engage in financial activities without exposing their identities or transaction details using private staking and voting mechanisms. Penumbra's private delegation system not only keeps stakeholder identities concealed but also offers staking derivatives, enabling flexible and confidential asset management and governance participation.

Secret Network

Secret Network

Secret Network is a smart contract protocol allowing users to create and use applications that protect their data. Unlike traditional blockchains where all transactions and smart contract interactions are public, Secret Network enables users to have control over their data by encrypting the inputs and outputs of smart contracts, ensuring sensitive information remains confidential.

cross chain diagram.jpg


SUAVE is a universal mempool and block builder that provides transaction ordering and block construction. It provides a singular, decentralized layer for these functions across multiple blockchains. It creates an off-chain mempool and order auction market for any network and is a product of Flashbots

What Is Zcash (ZEC)? | A Guide to the Bitcoin-Based Privacy Coin


Zcash uses zk-SNARKs to offers users the option to shield transactions. When a transaction is shielded, the sender, recipient, and transaction amount are all encrypted and kept private. The network uses zk-SNARKs to ensure that, despite the encryption, no double-spending has occurred and that the transaction is valid.

Layer Twos


Aztec is a privacy L2 using zkRollups to keep activities confidential. This means that when you use Aztec, your transactions and data are protected from being seen by others, which can be especially important for financial transactions and sensitive information. Aztec's technology helps improve the privacy of blockchain transactions, making it a valuable tool for anyone looking to keep their digital interactions more confidential and secure.


Inco is a modular network using Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE) to allow confidential data to be used in smart contracts and computations without ever needing to be decrypted. This means that sensitive information remains private, making it suitable for various applications like secure card games, decentralized identity management (DID), confidential voting systems, and more.

Manta Network | CryptoSlate

Manta Network

Manta Network is a modular blockchain platform. It consists of two key parts: Manta Atlantic, which is a fast and secure Layer1 blockchain supporting compliance and credentials, and Manta Pacific, a Layer2 ecosystem built for easy adoption of privacy-focused applications on Ethereum.

Obscuro | Crypto Deep Dive - Token Metrics Research


Obscuro is a general purpose L2 for Ethereum using Secure Enclaves and zero-knowledge proofs for EVM encryption, allowing it to operate confidentially and efficiently at a larger scale. Obscuro addresses four main issues: it brings encryption to Ethereum, mitigates miner extractable value (MEV) issues, improves scalability through a novel protocol called Proof of Block Inclusion (POBI), and reduces gas costs compared to Ethereum's Layer 1 (L1).

Polygon Announces Polygon Miden - A STARK-Based, Ethereum-Compatible Rollup

Polygon Miden

Polygon Miden is a zero-knowledge rollup that allows for the execution of smart contracts off-chain by users, who can then provide ZK proofs to the network for verification, significantly reducing the computational load and achieving greater scalability.

Dark Pools - DEX

Portal Gate () - All information about Portal Gate ICO (Token Sale) - ICO  Drops

Portal Gate

Portal Gate is a DEX enabling dark pool trading, which allows investors to make large trades without revealing their intentions to the market beforehand, thus preventing price manipulation and preserving confidentiality.


Renegade is a decentralized exchange operating as an on-chain dark pool. Unlike typical decentralized exchanges (DEXes) where balances and trade histories are public, Renegade ensures that no third party can view the details of a user's trades or balances, both before and after transactions are completed. It is specifically engineered to offer pre-trade and post-trade privacy, eliminating the chance of market manipulation through front-running or strategy copying, and it also ensures trades are executed at a fair midpoint price without slippage.

Infrastructure & Libraries


Nocturne is a protocol that integrates privacy at the account level on the Ethereum blockchain. This platform permits users to engage with stealth addresses to receive and deposit funds confidentially within Nocturne contracts. Leveraging zero-knowledge proofs, users can affirm asset ownership anonymously, enabling private transactions or stealth transfers within the broader Ethereum network.

Home | Elusiv


Elusiv is a blockchain-based, zero-knowledge privacy protocol enabling users and applications to access universal encryption. Elusiv utilizes zk-SNARKS for private transactions and decentralized compliance solutions, creating a symbiosis between privacy and compliance.

Panther Protocol

Panther Protocol

Panther Protocol zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) to allow users to engage in DeFi activities while ensuring that their transaction details remain confidential. With the use of Multi-Asset Shielded Pools, Panther users can deposit their assets and receive zAssets in return, which are privacy-enhanced versions of their tokens that can be used for various activities like trading, swapping, and paying within the Panther ecosystem.

How Panther operates is quite straightforward: users' original assets are locked in a secure vault and zAssets are issued for use within the Panther network. These zAssets can be freely moved and used for transactions, all while maintaining the user's privacy.

RAILGUN Is Bringing (Much-Needed) Privacy to the Ethereum Network


RAILGUN an a smart contract system that enables Zero-Knowledge Privacy for any on-chain dApp. Unlike some other privacy methods that depend on external layers or bridges, RAILGUN's on-chain approach means users' funds remain on the original blockchain, maintaining security and privacy integrity.

Silent Research Labs

Silent Protocol

Silent Protocol is a privacy wrapper, utilizing EZEE (Economical Zero-knowledge Execution Environment) to allow users to interact anonymously with existing smart contracts deployed on Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) platforms. This means users can engage with popular DeFi protocols like Uniswap or Yearn without disclosing their transaction details, maintaining complete anonymity.

The protocol leverages zkSNARK technology to enable confidential and anonymous transactions without changing the existing DeFi applications or requiring users to shift to new wallets.


Sunscreen uses fully homomorphic encryption and zero-knowledge proofs to allow secure, private computations on encrypted data without revealing it to any party.


Zama integrates homomorphic encryption into digital applications, offering a solution to the growing concern over private data security in the age of AI and extensive data analytics. Homomorphic encryption is a sophisticated technology that allows data to remain encrypted even during processing, meaning sensitive information can be used for computation without exposing it. Their open-source tools and programs, accessible on platforms like Huggingface, demonstrate practical applications ranging from sentiment analysis and image filtering to health predictions, all while keeping user data secure and private.


Tornado Cash (OFAC'd)

Privacy Pools

Privacy Pools is a novel, non-custodial privacy protocol that provides users with the ability to associate their withdrawals with specific subsets of deposits while maintaining complete anonymity, otherwise known as "Proof of Innocence. It introduces a system where users can dissociate themselves from potentially tainted funds (such as those involved in theft or laundering) without revealing their identities, using zero-knowledge proofs. This mechanism enables users to either prove their withdrawal is linked to a recognized 'good' subset of deposits or not associated with a 'bad' subset, effectively allowing the community to regulate itself against misuse by bad actors.

UniJoin Aids Anonymous Interaction With Cryptocurrencies


UniJoin mixes users' Bitcoin obscuring the trail back to the original owner.

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