Dash CEO ryan taylor interview

When people tell me that cryptocurrencies don’t have any “real-world” use, I point them to Venezuela. Venezuela is in the grips of unstoppable inflation – one of the worst in modern history, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

While the astronomical numbers can make the crisis seem distant and unapproachable, it’s devastatingly real for those who live there. Stores are empty. Buying toilet roll is a seven-day struggle. And many are accepting eggs as wages because the currency is worthless. Children are quite literally starving to death.

With the economy in tatters, some are turning to cryptocurrency. And no, not Venezuelan government’s sketchy state cryptocurrency Petro. 

They’re turning to bitcoin and, according to many reports, dash.

This is why cryptocurrency matters. It gives power to the people when their governments let them down. I’m curious to learn more about how dash is being used in Venezuela, so I reached out to Dash Core Group’s CEO, Ryan Taylor, to find out more.

Some Background on Dash

Originally known as Darkcoin, the cryptocurrency was born to address privacy and anonymity. It has since been renamed Dash, and adopted a new vision to build a global, digital cash system.

In Taylor’s words, “Dash is an open source, decentralized cryptocurrency focused on providing users a better way to pay and get paid. We aim to address usability, by making digital currency simple and efficient for the consumer, through instant transactions, low fees, and familiar interfaces.”

2,235 Venezuelan Merchants Accept Dash

Moving onto the topic of Venezuela, Taylor tells me over email that “more than 2,235 [Venezuelan] merchants accept Dash as a payment option. Since Venezuelans cannot rely on their national currency, we are seeing a huge demand for Dash in Venezuela.”

“People are looking for an alternate and more effective way to store, spend, and share their money and Dash’s low-cost transactions fees and InstantSend technology are unmatched.”

Dash recently upgraded its InstantSend technology in a bid to streamline payments and address the ever-present scaling issue in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. 

“Because most transactions are face-to-face, instant transactions are critical for users,” Taylor says. “Because of its speed, Dash truly is the most practical option for point-of-sale transactions.”

On the Ground

Dash venezuela

Dash is taking a proactive approach to adoption in Latin America, with a team of passionate users on the ground educating communities and small vendors about the cryptocurrency.

Taylor explains, “Many members of our community have been active in emerging countries, forming new entities to serve the needs of local economies. In the case of Venezuela, local teams offer support and education services for merchants and users. We’re really excited about the long-term potential of these grassroots, community-driven efforts, as they continue maturing into well-organized firms to serve individual markets.”

Admittedly, it’s a slow process. One community member, Eugenia Alcalá Sucre said, “Not everyone at first agreed to [sell goods and services with Dash], but in time, more entrepreneurs and merchants have learned how to use Dash as a payment method.”

They’re taking a one-by-one approach, growing slowly and steadily among communities.

No Public Figures to Confirm

We should point out, of course, that there are no objective or public figures to measure dash volume or transactions in Venezuela to back up the claims. And not everyone is convinced. One Venezuelan called Dash “snake oil,” and pointed to the fact that just because Dash is accepted by vendors doesn’t mean anyone is using it.

Three Million (Test) Transactions in 24 hours

One thing that can be quantified, however, is Dash’s speed. Dash recently performed a stress test on the system, successfully processing three million Dash transactions in a 24-hour period – a record for a Bitcoin-based blockchain.

What gives Dash this high-speed transaction while other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies struggle with congestion?

Dash record transactions

“The Dash network is fast, high-throughput, and reliable because the network actually pays the server operators of our network,” says Taylor. “These operators are paid only if their servers provide reliable services to the network.

It’s a model that has drawn some criticism, not least because it utilizes “privileged” master nodes that requires a 1,000 dash collateral to run (about $61,000 at today’s prices). However, Taylor maintains that the system provides better results. 

“Other cryptocurrency networks rely on volunteers for these nodes, which tends to result in slow unreliable computers on residential internet connections. In essence, these networks get what they pay for.”

What About Centralization?

As impressive as it sounds, I can’t help but feel skeptical about super fast blockchain transactions. Most networks compromise some aspects of decentralization to achieve high speeds.

I put the question to Taylor. Does Dash compromise centralization to achieve its high speed?

“The best part is that paid nodes actually encourages decentralization. As other networks grow in size – and hosting a node becomes more expensive to accommodate the increased data traffic – the number of volunteer nodes tends to drop and increase the centralization of the network. 

“In contrast, as transactions grow on Dash, payments to our operators increase and that attracts more operators to provide infrastructure to our network – thus driving decentralization.”

A sort of decentralized capitalism, then. By paying network operators directly, it encourages a sort of free market.

The PayPal of Cryptocurrencies?

The next stage in Dash’s evolution will focus on improving user experience. In short, they are working on taking crypto payments mainstream, using an interface as familiar as PayPal or Venmo.

Dash CEO ryan taylor interview

“Dash Evolution is our landmark release aiming to make Dash easier than ever to use, by providing a platform that enables many new capabilities, including new apps capable of providing a Venmo or PayPal-like experience to users. We believe Evolution will be the payments system of the future to provide millions of users around the world with the ability to carry out instant, secure, and near fee-free transactions.”

Forget clunky interfaces and lengthy cryptographic addresses. The next generation of Dash will introduce a slick software:

“It will be every bit as relevant and familiar to our users as a Venmo or Paypal in which a user can send and receive money from his or her contact list. Evolution will allow users to create a network username… Users will pay and get paid from other usernames, as opposed to being forced to enter long cryptographic addresses.”

“Our goal in this is to make using cryptocurrency on a daily basis more accessible for both users and merchants.”

It’s a lofty goal, but early adoption in Venezuela and Latin America may be the first proof of concept.

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bobo the bear market bear

Shorting (or betting against) Bitcoin in 2018 has become the standard; the new paradigm. Newbies once flooded crypto exchanges like Bitmex to click the big green box and go long.

These days it’s the opposite. We’re in bear country. And with the bulls losing control for the first time in years it begs the question; who’s in charge? Well, the answer is simple. Bobo the Bear. The Bear Market Bear.

In trading language, bulls are optimistic buyers pushing the market higher. Bears are the opposite: pessimistic sellers sending the market downwards.

More of a mascot than a market manipulator, Bobo is symbolic of the short. Bobo has become the trademark of conceited shorters reveling in their own correctness. From Twitter to Reddit to Facebook, Bobo has taken hold. With a smug disposition, a glass of champagne, and a tux, this anthropomorphic bear has become a crypto icon.

bobobear
The original Bobo meme

Bobo first began showing up on 4chan board /biz/ in early 2018 sometime around February. He began as most good memes do. A nameless play on words with the level of cuteness only an MSPaint drawing can achieve. Just a bear anonymously posted when the cryptocurrency markets took a downturn and shorters finally had their turn to play ‘economic oracle.’ As the market continued downward Bobo soon became /biz/’s ‘hard fork’ of Pepe the Frog.

Named in April of 2018 by the /biz/ community, in a thread looking to name the nameless iconic bear, a participant “rolled dubs,” meaning to post with an I.D. that ends with two of the same number, and Bobo the Bear Market Bear was born. Although Bobo supposedly means “idiot” in one language, the name was likely inspired by a muppet character. The rest is internet history.

“In this thread dubs decide the name of the bear market bear.”

 

The Winner!

What began as a smug, champagne-drinking bear inspired memes worldwide and original Bobo content began flooding crypto-culture. As shorters took control, he exploded. Soon, the tux dropped and Bobo found himself in a red t-shirt sitting in front of a screen displaying a market dump. In other instances, he’s a Bitmex commando holding the line against the bulls. He’s even got some cool sunglasses now. His conceit knowing no bounds.

Bobo shorting the market.
Commando Bobo.

Everybody needs a mascot, even bears. It’s no surprise that Bobo’s been a good fit. Bears are cynics, naysayers, and doubters. A sentiment Bobo’s stare imbues in an instant. A sort of ‘told ya so’ look that annoys even the most bullish among us. But what goes up must come down. Let them enjoy themselves and post their Bobos, for the time being.

bitcoin etf approval date

The bitcoin ETF timeline just got longer. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has kicked the can down the road, setting a new Bitcoin ETF decision date of 27th February.

The exchange-traded fund (ETF) in question is the much-anticipated VanEck and SolidX collaboration, cited by many as the best chance of securing approval.

Unfortunately, the SEC, which has delayed this decision numerous times through 2018, needs more time to consider the application:

“The Commission finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to issue an order approving or disapproving the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider this proposed rule change.”

Background reading: What is a Bitcoin ETF?

Why Has the SEC Moved the Bitcoin ETF deadline?

The simple answer is that it can. The SEC may take up to 180 days to deliver an approval or disapproval. If required, they can also extend that period an additional 60 days.

With the VanEck and SolidX proposal submitted in July, the SEC is simply taking as much time as possible to consider all angles.

The SEC has also invited comments on the ETF, suggesting it is taking the review seriously.

The Delay Could be a Good Thing

The SEC is well within its rights to reject the bitcoin ETF proposal. You may remember the Commission rejected nine proposals back in August.

The fact that the SEC is taking the full time period to consider the VanEck proposal is a good sign.

There are pro-bitcoin commissioners involved in the decision, including Hester Peirce who said, “You all know that I am working on trying to convince my colleagues to have a bit more of an open mind when it comes to [crypto].”

SEC Concerns Remain

Having said that, the SEC still has major concerns over bitcoin ETFs. As the chairman of the SEC recently revealed, there are issues related to theft, market manipulation, custody, and money laundering that need to be addressed before we see an approval.

There is also concern over how ETFs track the price of bitcoin.

The three options include basing the price on crypto exchanges, bitcoin futures, and the bitcoin OTC market.

The SEC is nervous that exchanges are subject to manipulation. They think bitcoin futures are not yet mature enough, and OTC markets are difficult to track.

So there are big hurdles to overcome before the SEC approves any Bitcoin ETF proposal.

It Could Take Years

Speaking after the decision, Hester Peirce warned the crypto community not to place too much weight on the ETF approval.

“Don’t hold your breath. I do caution people to not live or die on when a crypto or bitcoin ETF gets approved.”

She went on to say that approval could come tomorrow or in ten years. However, she did say that institutionalization of bitcoin is building. With Nasdaq and Fidelity wading into crypto trading, the building blocks are in place.

We just need some patience.

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Remember the spring of 2017? Altcoins were booming. Every other week new ERC-20 tokens were minted, shilled, pumped, and dumped. For the day-trader, it was a feeding frenzy like no other. Newbies went broke as the skilled got rich. And early adopters sat staring at green for months. 

All of it seemingly based on obscure whitepapers, contemporary looking websites, hype, and Twitter announcements. Now, it’s happening again. This time you can leave your Ethereum at the door. The star of this show is Monero.

Monero, as you know, is everyone’s favorite untraceable and fungible cryptocurrency. It’s a community project and open source, using a proof-of-work mining algorithm CryptoNight. Like Bitcoin before it, it’s going through a sort of renaissance; forks aplenty. With over 50 different CryptoNight coins, including Monero forks such as Wownero, there’s a lot of ideas brewing.

You can forget Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) too. These projects are focusing on development first. Build a product and let it grow naturally. Here are some of the most intriguing projects in the space.

Figure 1. Wownero Doge.

Top CryptoNight Projects

Wownero plans to meme its way to the moon and become Monero’s DogeCoin with over-the-top ring signatures and bulletproofs. Others like Loki plan on bringing Monero’s famous anonymity to messenger applications. While less-inspired projects like Sumokoin and MoneroV have embraced the status quo and ASICs. And projects like Masari promising the ever elusive low hanging fruit that is ‘scalability.’

Others are a bit more ambitious. Projects such as Haven Protocol hope to create a stable off-shore banking system utilizing a dual coin blockchain. While Graft aims to become the Paypal of crypto by servicing real-time payment solutions and atomic swaps. Not to mention BitTube; the anti-censorship Youtube clone with a built-in cryptocurrency payment system.

There’s even an “Ethereum of Monero” named Dero looking to bring proof-of-work and anonymity to smart contracts. Using the familiar Golang coding language. Like in the golden age of ERC-20 tokens, the possibilities seem endless.

No ICOs; Development First, Funding Later

These aren’t Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) either. As Turtle Coin’s homepage points out; there are all too many projects pumped on promises and no product. For the most part, Monero forks and the CryptoNight coins like them are unfunded projects with nothing more than a few passionate devs and lofty goals; believing value will create itself.

Turtlecoin
Figure 2. Turtlecoin.lol Homepage.

There’s no shortage of ideas or coins. With small market capitalizations and lots of room for ‘mooning,’ it’s a penny trader’s dreamland; an early adopters clearinghouse. Even in this bear market, these little-known coins are being pumped and dumped on a daily basis. All happening on courageous homebrew exchanges like TradeOgre.com.

The “Penny Stocks” of Crypto

TradeOgre
Figure 2. Tradeogre.com

Established in January 2018 Trade Ogre has become a consistent, and little known, exchange with coin offerings rarely seen on major exchanges. Offering more than just Monero forks and CryptoNight coins, such as Ethereum and XRP,  Trade Ogre’s is an altcoin feeding frenzy all to itself. Its user interface is simple and Trade Ogre is K.Y.C free (no need to verify your ID). It even has 2FA.

Intuitive and easy-to-use, Trade Ogre’s offerings may even seem overwhelming; much like Cryptopia’s. All you need is some Bitcoin, or Litecoin, an email you can verify and you’re ready to go. You may need to invest some time downloading, learning how to use new wallets, and visiting a couple Githubs. But that’s part of the fun.

If you’d like to join Monero’s renaissance without trading, your Bitcoin mining is always an option as well. You can view a list of CryptoNight coins and mine at https://cryptoknight.cc/. Most of which are listed for trade at Trade Ogre and Cryptopia.

Figure 4. Cryptoknight.cc Mining Pools.

Either way, let’s hope this trend continues and more exchanges like Trade Ogre begin popping up; as well as a few more coins. Be careful out there!

Disclaimer: the author is involved in the Wownero project as a designer and artist.

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decentralized exchange

Binance just revealed a sneak peek of its new decentralized exchange (DEX). It’s slick, powerful, and will look familiar to current Binance users.

But why use a decentralized exchange instead of a normal cryptocurrency exchange like Coinbase or Kraken? Why is DEX the next generation?

In this article, we’ll run down some of the most important benefits. First, what exactly is a DEX?

What’s a DEX?

A decentralized exchange is a crypto exchange with no central authority.

Think about Coinbase for a minute. It is perhaps the most well-known exchange in crypto, but it’s highly centralized.

There is one company at the heart of it. Coinbase handles the exchange of money directly and stores all information on its servers. Most importantly, they control all funds on the platform. In other words, they technically own your crypto.

Centralized exchanges also require full identification, so your data is stored on their central servers.

A decentralized exchange aims to remove each of those elements. It’s a truly peer-to-peer exchange with no central authority and you keep full control and ownership of your funds.

Why Should I use a DEX?

1. Control your own funds

One thing you might not realize when you trade on Coinbase or Binance is that you don’t technically own your funds. The crypto is stored in wallets that belong to Coinbase or Binance. You are trusting them to look after it for you.

While that’s convenient, it’s not safe. It also goes against the grain of cryptocurrencies, which are designed to exist outside a third-party or banking system. With a DEX, you are in full control of your own private key and your own crypto funds.

2. Security

Because a centralized exchange like Coinbase holds your crypto in their wallets, it’s much more vulnerable to hacking. All data and funds are stored on the company’s server, so there’s one point-of-failure.

Crypto exchanges are regularly targeted by hackers because they hold vast sums of crypto in one place. Nearly $1 billion has been stolen from exchanges this year alone, and you probably remember the infamous $450 million hack at the Mt. Gox exchange.

A DEX removes that vulnerability by operating on a decentralized blockchain. Instead of one point of failure, the exchange operates on many servers all at once. That makes it extremely difficult to hack.

3. No government can shut it down

Since there is no central authority governing the DEX, it can’t be shut down.

For example, the Chinese government has a blanket ban on crypto exchanges. Binance was forced to move to Malta to get around the restrictions. In the US, exchanges like Coinbase must stick to strict regulations in order to operate.

You can’t close down or govern a DEX if there’s no central point of authority.

4. Permissionless

A founding tenet of cryptocurrencies is that they are “permissionless.” In other words, you don’t need someone’s permission (like a bank or a government) to use them.

When you use a central exchange like Coinbase, Coinbase is giving you permission to trade cryptocurrencies by asking for certain data and assigning you an account.

A DEX should be truly permissionless. Anyone can use it, with no restrictions.

5. Privacy

If you’ve used a mainstream exchange, then you’ve probably been asked to verify your identity. Coinbase, for instance, asks for ID verification to satisfy Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) laws.

Your data is then stored on a central database. With a DEX, there should be no personal data stored on any central exchange. However, it remains to be seen whether the Binance DEX will require identification.

6. Faster and cheaper

By cutting out a central middleman, decentralized exchanges should operate with lower fees and faster transaction times.

The Downsides of DEX

Of course, decentralized exchanges are not perfect. They are still in their early stages and suffer from a number of problems:

Low liquidity – Not a lot of people use DEX platforms yet, so liquidity and trading volume is significantly lower than mainstream exchanges. That means it could be difficult to buy or sell certain assets.

Poor user experience – The benefit of using a mainstream exchange like Coinbase is that it’s slick and easy to use. DEXs are more primitive. They can seem overwhelming to beginners.

Lack of functionality – Again, because they’re in their infancy, DEXs have pretty basic functionality. If you’re looking for margin trading or stop-loss functionality, you may be disappointed.

No fiat conversions – You can’t load up your DEX account with dollars or euros because that would require KYC and AML procedures (ID verification). So you’ll have to make transfers in cryptocurrency only. Not a problem for intermediate users, but a big problem for beginners.

First Look at Binance DEX

If you’re excited by the concept of DEX trading, take a look at the new Binance platform:

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