In the category of competing privacy-centric cryptoassets with focus on strong anonymity (such as Monero, ZCash, PIVX, etc.; a full list of them can be found here) an obscure project called SpectreCoin (XSPEC) stands out with some unique and interesting features, particularly when it comes to facilitating undetected use and bypassing traffic restrictions in places like China, Iran and Russia (developers have ran a successful test penetrating the “Great Firewall”). It is noteworthy to mention that the main reason China banned Bitcoin is due to it opening the channels for large sum capital outflows from the country.
XSPEC started out in November 2016 as a ShadowCash fork, with a few developers and a modest ICO in the range of $16,000. The team has taken the approach of focusing their energies on the development and letting the technology speak for itself and has since cultivated a steadily growing community and a good many dedicated volunteers and contributors.
In essence, XSPEC resembles (and most likely being at least partially inspired by) an modern day Hawala — a system operating parallel to, but outside of, traditional banking (in places like the Middle East and North Africa) where transactions take place following Islamic traditions of honor (or, in our case, staking or PoS 3.0 + ring signatures).
The system integrates TOR onion routing which it further encapsulates in OBFS4 obfuscation protocol, making it appear as normal TCP/IP stream. Every wallet is itself a spectre node hidden in TOR overlay and similar to the above mentioned Hawala, it does not directly communicate with other people, but through a series of middlemen by way of ring signatures.
The PoS3 provides energy-efficient rapid transaction confirmations (30 seconds to a minute). To be sure, I myself had problems building the wallet on Ubuntu (deb packages coming any day now) at first, before logging on to their public Slack and the devs were particularly helpful (as I noticed, coming from that build-it-from-scratch DIY ArchLinux mentality of doing things, which personally could only instill me with confidence insofar as the fundamentals of the technology). Once running, found the interface to be particularly intuitive and user-friendly. Additionally, cold wallet support for Ledger and Trezor is on the agenda, as well as mobile iOS and Android wallets.
New Zeland-based Cryptopia is the main exchange for buying and trading XSPEC as of writing this, with USD price gravitating at around $1.5. And, importantly, to enable the privacy features one ought to move the XSPEC ‘coin’ to the stealth wallet address (it takes a single mouse click in the interface), thereby destroying the blockchain traceable coin and transforming functionality to anonymous XSPEC token. The wallet also conveniently supports encrypted chat.
Technology-wise, XSPEC shows enough promise to put it on par with Monero, although these particular assets are slow to gain momentum due to the nature of their intended function (vehicles for moving value under the radar) and their incompatibility with major exchanges which require identity verification.