Technical Details

FROST only works with Schnorr signatures. Zcash transaprent transactions use ECDSA, therefore FROST does not work with Zcash transaparent addresses. (This could change if the Taproot upgrade from Bitcoin is ported to Zcash, but it seems unlikely.)

Zcash supports three shielded pools: Sprout, Sapling and Orchard. Sprout is being deprecated so we only need to care about Sapling and Orchard.

Sapling and Orchard keys are commonly derived from a single spending key (which in turn is commonly derived from a seed phrase). This is shown in the figure below, taken from the Zcash protocol:

Sapling and Orchard key trees

To use FROST with Zcash, the key that needs to be split is the Spend Authorizing Key or ask. This is the key that signs transactions and allow they to go through.

Key Derivation and DKG Support

As shown in the figure, the ask is commonly derived from the Spending Key sk. At first, this could indicate that it is impossible to use Distributed Key Generation (DKG) in this scenario, since the key it creates is unpredictable.

However, the protocol does not require ask to be derived from sk. This would allow creating key shares using DKG, which will also output ak (which is simply the public key matching ask). Thus:

  • With Sapling, the rest of the keys can be derived from that ak and either:
    • An sk which is used to derive only nsk and ovk;
    • Or generating nsk and ovk by themselves (or generating them from a random sk which is thrown away).
  • With Orchard, the rest of the keys can be derived from that ak and either:
    • An sk which is used to derive only nk and rivk;
    • Or generating nk and rivk by themselves (or generating them from a random sk which is thrown away).

Arguably this should be done even if Trusted Dealer Key Generation is used: the goal of FROST is requiring multiple entities to authorize a transaction, not having a seed phrase that allows recreating the ask ensures that property.

Backing Up Key Shares

Zcash users are familiar with the concept of seed phrases and with how they can always recover their wallet with it.

However, FROST wallets need more information to be restored:

  • FROST-related:
    • Key share
    • Verifying shares of all participants
    • Public keys and identifiers of all participants if online communication is being used
  • Zcash-related:
    • Sapling: sk, or both Proof authorizing key (ak and nsk) and Outgoing viewing key (ovk)
    • Orchard: sk, or Full viewing key (ak, nk, rivk). The upside of using the Full viewing key is that there is already a format for encoding it.

Thus, even if a sk derived from a seed phrase is used, that is not enough to restore a FROST wallet. In fact it would be probably confusing to use a seed phrase since users wouldn't be able to tell if it's a regular Zcash seed phrase or a FROST seed phrase which needs additional information to be restored.

For this reason it seems impossible to easily encode a FROST wallet, so using something like a JSON file with all this information is advisable.

Of course, unlike regular Zcash wallets, a user losing their FROST wallet is not catastrophical. Users can recover their key share with the help of other participants, and would only need to remember their identifier (and other participants can probably help with that).


Orchard is simpler to handle, so it may be a good idea to just support it with FROST.


The only secret information is the key share. So another possibility is to just ask the user to backup it (using a seed phrase format, or other string encoding) and get the remaining information from the other participants when recovering a wallet.


The biggest challenge in using FROST with Zcash is allowing participants to communicate securely with each other, which is required to run the FROST protocol. Since wallets don't currently need to communication to each other, a whole new mechanism will need to be implemented.

For this to happen, two things are required:

  • Allowing wallets to actually communicate with each other (regardless of security). This is challenging because users are usually behind NATs and firewalls, so they can't simply open TCP connections with each other. So some kind of signaling server may be needed.
  • Making the communication secure. This is actually fairly solvable while not trivial and we're planning on working on a library to address it. It needs to provide authentication and confidentiality, for example using the Noise protocol. Also needs to provide a broadcast channel on top of it.
  • Managing public keys. Another challenging part. Users need to be able to create a key pair of keys used for the secure communication, and exporting public keys to each other. This is similar to contact management that some wallets have, so a possibility is to expand on that (instead of storing just name and address, also store identifier and public key).
One long-term idea is to extend the Zcash protocol to allow P2P messaging.
This has been discussed in the context of sending encrypted notes via the network
instead of publishing them on the blockchain.
Another idea is to extend lightwalletd servers to support messaging, since
wallets are all already connected to a server (not the same one, so inter-server
communications would be also needed)