What is Dash?
It started out as “XCoin,” then became “DarkCoin,” and in 2015 it came to its current name: “Dash,” (DASH) which is a portmanteau of “digital cash.” Its naming history sums up its purpose: it is focused on both privacy and speed and is only meant to be used as a currency (no smart contracts or decentralized apps here). While it is not as completely private as Monero, it aims to combine a higher-than-average level of anonymity with speed and usability to make a cryptocurrency that works for anyone.
How does Dash work?
This cryptocurrency is derived from Litecoin–which itself came from Bitcoin–but it has instituted dramatic changes. At its core is a two-tier structure: the base blockchain and “masternodes.”
The first tier, like Bitcoin and Litecoin, allows miners to use computing power (Proof of Work) to create new blocks. Each block contains permanent records of confirmed transactions. Unlike the other two, though, only 45% of newly mined currency goes to miners. Another 45% goes to the masternodes. The last 10% goes to a “treasury” that funds development costs.
The second tier is composed of powerful computers (masternodes) that enable Dash’s special features: InstantSend, PrivateSend, and governance. They can be set up by anyone, but each node requires a minimum of 1,000 tokens to run, making it prohibitively expensive for anyone to attempt a network takeover.
Though this blockchain records your transactions in blocks every 2.5 minutes (versus Bitcoin’s 10 minutes), that’s still not instant. InstantSend eliminates the need to wait for the blockchain by sending it to a masternode, which locks your transaction down and sends out a message showing that the funds have been properly directed and sent. The recipient can see your payment within seconds.
PrivateSend makes your tokens untraceable through “coin mixing.” You can send your transaction to a masternode, which then bounces it around to up to eight more masternodes. The nodes break down your transaction and exchange chunks of it for coins from other users’ transactions. Your original amount is sent back to a randomly generated address, enabling you to spend from an anonymous address with tokens that can’t be connected to you.
Finally, the masternodes enable flexible governance. Each masternode can vote on proposed changes. Successful votes result in the proposed changes being allowed onto the network. Those changes and other development costs can be funded using the 10% share of all mined tokens that is set aside to make the project self-funding.
Recent major developments
Dash 12.2 was released in late 2017. This update most notably increased the block size (allowing more transactions to be processed simultaneously) and lowered fees.
The Evolution project is slated to have an alpha version out by mid-2018. Its stated aim is to make using Dash as easy as using any other payment app.
How to buy Dash
Dash’s coin is mostly bought and sold on Binance. You can’t buy it with fiat currency yet (USD), so here is a quick guide on how to buy Dash starting with fiat:
1. Buy Bitcoin or Ethereum at an exchange that uses your fiat currency on Coinbase.
2. Transfer your BTC or ETH to an exchange that supports Dash. Currently, Binance is the best choice. (Tip: if you bought BTC/ETH on Coinbase, look into using GDAX to avoid transfer fees)
3. Buy Dash by trading your BTC/ETH for their coin, and you’re done!
Alternatively, you can purchase your desired cryptocurrency from fiat (starting with USD) with a credit card at Changelly.
There is another cryptocurrency called “DashCoin.” Though less popular, it often comes up in searches for this one. The easiest way to tell them apart is the ticker symbols: DSH for DashCoin versus DASH for this coin.