Dash (DSH), like Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin, aspires to be a common currency, one that can be spent or saved like any fiat currency. It emerged in 2014, before the boom of cryptocurrencies and so-called “altcoins”, and has slowly built a stable market presence within the top ten tokens by market capitalization.
Dash was originally conceived by Evan Duffield, who used Bitcoin’s source code to create his own coin, originally called Xcoin. Later it was named Darkcoin in reference to its privacy features, and then eventually settled on Dash, which is short for “Digital Cash”.
Dash simply aspires to be a global digital currency, accepted at any and every store, restaurant, or place of business, online or off. It was conceived to do exactly what Bitcoin originally promised to be, a peer to peer currency, the only difference being technological improvements to provide more speed, security, and privacy.
Dash sought to solve perceived problems with Bitcoin, and those solutions are the core of what constitutes Dash’s differentiating features. One is increased privacy, by use of a built-in transaction mixing system called PrivateSend. This system breaks transactions into preset increments of 0.01, 0.1, 1, 10, 100, or 1000 Dash. These denominations are mixed with increments within transactions made by other users so that they are in essence shuffled in between senders and recipients. This makes it hard to trace the history of any Dash amount, preserving the privacy of users.
Another feature is a built-in system of governance by using masternodes. Bitcoin, according to Dash supporters, was a great technological revolution but has no methodology in place for participating developers or users to direct the course of the evolution of Bitcoin. If there is contention, as there has been in the Bitcoin community, there is no way to come to a consensus, and there can be harsh factionalization leading to splits and competition.
Dash’s masternodes are servers on the network where users commit at least 1000 Dash and a server capable of running continually with no downtime. These servers help with the operation of the network by providing consistent computing power, but they also give the owners of masternode the right to vote on proposals that affect the development of the network. In 2016, a proposal was made to the Dash network on whether or not to increase the block size from one megabyte to two, and they voted on an answer, which was to increase the block size, within twenty-four hours. Compare that to the Bitcoin block size debate, which has raged on for years and ultimately led to the divisive creation of Bitcoin Cash.
The third significant feature of Dash is the speed of its transactions. Blocks are not only mined and transactions committed every two and a half minutes, but also Dash has a system of “quorums” where ten masternodes can lock in a transaction’s details before the next block is mined. A quorum can process a transaction within seconds so that a buyer and seller can have near instant gratification, and the quorum will lock out other attempts to access Dash associated with those coins, preventing double spends.
The total supply of Dash is 18 million coins, and a little more than a third have been put into circulation. At the time of this writing, it is the seventh largest token by market capitalization, and it looks like a stable contender to more or less maintain its position, barring some exceptional unforeseen circumstance.
Dash does have its loyal supporters, but, it’s most often accepted at places that take cryptocurrencies in general, meaning in the larger market it hasn’t clearly carved out a niche for itself. The challenge for Dash is that, unlike tokens that seek to find some kind of niche, a currency is definitely defined by how common its usability, which means the common person wants to have the currency that is most widely used by everyone else. This leaves little room for a second and third place contender. Cryptocurrency is still very much unknown in the wider world, which means there is a huge market to grow into, but, should one cryptocurrency start to gain mainstream acceptance, it could snowball into being the one winner. Dash could be that coin, but it has very strong established competition.