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

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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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Former Obama Aide Targeted by Anti-Crypto Political Ad for Accepting Bitcoin Donations
Brian Forde, a California Democrat running for the US House of Representatives, is accepting accepting campaign donations in Bitcoin. Vice’s Motherboard reports that Forde, “was a senior advisor to the Obama administration who wrote the White House memo on cryptocurrency. Now his congressional campaign is under attack by his opponent for accepting Bitcoin donations.”

MIT Researchers Testing A Smart Contract-Powered Bitcoin Lightning Network
MIT is exploring the application of smart contracts on Bitcoin Lightening Network to see if it can handle millions of transactions, and with a greater degree of complexity.

PayPal: We’ll ‘Certainly Support’ Bitcoin If It Becomes ‘Better Currency’
PayPal’s CFO, John Rainey, told CNBC cthat volatility was the reason PayPal does not currently “see a lot of interest” from its merchants regarding cryptocurrency acceptance. However, he signaled PayPal was not giving up on Bitcoin. “Right now, we don’t see a lot of interest from our merchants,” Rainey went on to say. “But if it’s something that stabilizes in the future and is a better currency, then we’ll certainly support that.”

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Image courtesy of Carty Sewill, http://cartyisme.com/

Square Cash, the mobile payments app operated by San Francisco-based financial services company Square, has seen faster growth than their fiercest competitor, PayPal’s Venmo app, according to new analysis from Nomura’s Instinet.

A report sent to Instinet clients from analyst Dan Dolev concludes that Square Cash is quickly catching up to Venmo’s install base, with nearly 28 million cumulative downloads of the Square Cash app, a mere $1 million behind Venmo, despite releasing 4 years later. Square Cash’s downloads have averaged a strong 128 percent year-over-year growth since 2016, with Venmo only managing 74% year-over-year growth comparatively.

Dolev says that historically Venmo has received more downloads than Square Cash, but the gap peaked in July 2017 and has shifted in favor of Square Cash.

While it’s been widely reported that Square only earned $200,000 from bitcoin transactions in Q1 2018 since its January launch, Dolev believes that offering bitcoin may have helped spark the app’s accelerated growth, comparing Square Cash app downloads to Coinbase’s app.

“With Square Cash App now open for Bitcoin trading in most states, comparing its growth versus the popular Coinbase app is noteworthy.” Dolev continued:

“Here, while Coinbase saw growth peak around the holiday time — as Bitcoin prices spiked — Coinbase’s growth has slowed from record levels, whereas Square Cash App experienced more balanced growth.”

Dolev’s report reiterated Square stocks as a ‘buy’, targeting $65 per share over the next 12 months, representing a predicted 18% increase. Shares of Square, Inc. were up 1.9 percent at the time of this writing.

Square’s CEO Jack Dorsey is a “huge fan” of bitcoin, and believes it’ll become the Internets “native currency” according to his comments on stage today at Consensus 2018. Dorsey plans to “help it happen” by supporting it as a method of payment for everyday use through the Square Cash app.

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News Bytes for April 27, 2018

Former Paypal CEO Says Bitcoin Is A Scam, And Investors Are “drinking the Kool-Aid”

Bill Harris, the former Paypal CEO, believes Bitcoin is not an effective means of payment. “I absolutely believe that money should be digital, is becoming more digital, and will be completely digital but it doesn’t mean we need a new currency to record that,” said Harris.

Bitcoin Is Not a Security: SEC Chairman

Speaking on Thursday in a hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee, Securities and ExchangeCommittee (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton told lawmakers that cryptocurrencies which function exclusively as mediums of exchange are not securities, unlike initial coin offering (ICO) tokens, which are.

New Term Coined for Fundraising Cryptocurrencies: The ‘STO’

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are of the past as Security Token Offerings (STO) becomes the new hot cryptocurrency fundraising buzzword. The rebranding, says the CEO of Overstock, “gives more clarity to regulators.”

Revolut, Europe’s Newest Fintech Unicorn, to Add Bitcoin Cash and Ripple Trading

As the UK-based Revolut closed their latest funding round, raising $250 million and bringing their total valuation to $1.7 billion, the fintech unicorn continued to move full steam ahead by announcing they will add support for bitcoin cash and ripple trading to their mobile app.

Alibaba Pilots Blockchain Supply Chain Initiative In Fight Against Food Fraud

The company has developed a blockchain-based Food Trust Framework as a trusted market for food products distributed through its network. It will begin by shipping products from Australia and New Zealand to China. ZDNet reports, “Alibaba is hopeful that if the pilot taking place in Auckland is successful, the blockchain framework could form the basis of a global supply chain model applied across all of Alibaba Group’s ecommerce markets.”

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Former PayPal CEO Bill Harris continued his bitcoin bashing world tour on Thursday, arguing on CNBC that cryptocurrency investors are being taken in by a colossal scam.

Harris, who was PayPal’s founding CEO but was quickly ousted and replaced, said during an interview on “Fast Money” that cryptocurrency investors are “drinking the Kool-Aid.:

“Everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid,” Harris said. “I absolutely believe that money should be digital, is becoming more digital, and will be completely digital but it doesn’t mean we need a new currency to record that.”

“My autograph is scarce, I can promise that I will never autograph a piece of paper more than 21 million times but it doesn’t make it valuable,” he added, referencing the fact that bitcoin’s currency supply is capped at approximately 21 million.

Harris, who also founded popular financial portfolio tracker Personal Capital, further took aim at initial coin offerings (ICOs), disputing claims that this fundraising model is analogous to the initial public offerings (IPOs) commonly pursued by large startups.

“There’s no reason that a new currency should instantly have billions of dollars in value,” Harris said.

Then, he dug an old gem out of the bitcoin bashing scrapbook, reviving the once-popular “blockchain not bitcoin” anthem.

“There’s the currency like bitcoin then there’s the technology, blockchain technology has terrific applications, including financial transactions but we don’t need a new currency to do it,” Harris said.

The interview marked the second time in this week alone that Harris had embarked on a high-profile rant about bitcoin.

On Tuesday, he penned an op-ed in tech news outlet Recode, in which he argued that cryptocurrency is a “colossal pump-and-dump scheme, the likes of which the world has never seen.”

He further alleged that cryptocurrency is only used by criminals and that US regulators should be given more authority to intervene in the markets.

But though Harris has developed a decidedly hostile opinion on cryptocurrency, other PayPal executives and alumni have adopted much more favorable views.

Fellow PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has not only compared bitcoin to digital gold but has also invested in the asset prolifically through Founders Fund, his venture capital firm.

Xapo CEO Wences Casares — one of Silicon Valley’s first high-profile bitcoin bulls — sits on the board of PayPal.

Even Tesla founder Elon Musk — who replaced Harris at PayPal — owns bitcoin, albeit a very small amount.

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