In the category of competeing crypto assets that focus on privacy and emphasis on strong anonymity (Monero, PIVX, etc.) one obscure project (SpectreCoin, or XSPEC) seems to stand out with some curious and unique properties, particularly when it comes to bypassing government regulation in places imposing strong infrastructural restrictions (e.g., TOR traffic censoring, the Great Chinese Firewall, Iran, etc.)
The ICO started out in November 2016, UK-based with a small team of developers who still seem to focus their energies mostly on the technology and development with little to no marketing initiative trying to let the product speak for itself.
XSPEC is essentially akin to (and maybe even inspired by) a modern 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 honour (or, in our case, staking or PoS 3.0).
Essentially, XSPEC integrates TOR which it further encapsulates in OBFS4 obfuscation protocol that makes TOR traffic appear as normal TCP/IP stream.
Just like in the above mentioned Hawala system and in contrast to other privacy ‘coins’, the wallet does not directly communicate with other people, but through a series of middlemen and (similar to Monero) making use of ring signatures.
The PoS 3.0 algorithm XSPEC has implemented provides energy-efficient rapid transaction confirmations. To be sure, at first I had some problems building the wallet on Ubuntu, but after logging in their public slack the devs were particularly helpful (coming from that build-it-from-scratch DIY ArchLinux sort of culture and mentality of doing things, which personally could only instill me with confidence in the technology itself) and once running I found the GUI interface to be extremely intuitive, slick and user-friendly, additionally integrating an encrypted chat function (deb packages, was told, coming soon in the next two weeks).
Hardware wallet support for Ledger and Trezor is planned for February (but, as is often the case with these things, may be further post-poned), as well as an easy to use and much anticipated Android wallet.
One can read in more detail on the specifcations here (the wiki serves as the white paper currently).
New Zeland-based Cryptopia is the main exchange for buying and trading XSPEC as of currently writing this, with USD price gravitating around 3$/token.
In terms of technology, XSPEC shows enough potential to put it on par with Monero, although these particular assets (anonymous) are slow to gain attention and momentum of showing up on major exchanges.