The Masternode Series #2: What is Dash?

Dash is a decentralized, open-source cryptocurrency and payment network that offers fast transaction speeds, privacy features, and a unique self-governance and funding model. Launched in 2014 as a fork of Bitcoin, Dash aims to be digital cash that is easy to use for daily transactions.

Dash sets itself apart from first-generation cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in a few key ways:

  • Fast transactions – InstantSend technology allows payments to be confirmed in less than a second. This enables secure, real-time use cases.
  • Private transactions – PrivateSend obscures transaction sources for user privacy.
  • Low fees – Transaction fees are minimal, making microtransactions feasible.
  • Decentralized governance – A Decentralized Autonomous Organization model allows stakeholders to vote on project funding and protocol changes.
  • Self-funding model – Part of the block reward finances continued development and adoption initiatives.

With a focus on usability and real-world application, Dash seeks to provide the everyday digital cash experience that early cryptocurrencies have yet to fully achieve.

Origin of Dash

Dash was created by developer Evan Duffield in January 2014. Duffield was an early adopter of Bitcoin who appreciated the potential of digital currency but was frustrated by slow transaction times and a lack of privacy.

Seeking to solve these issues, he originally released Dash under the name “Xcoin” on January 18, 2014. Within the first two days, around 1.9 million coins were mined.

The name Xcoin didn’t last long though. Within days, Duffield rebranded it to Darkcoin – a reference to the anonymity features he wanted to build. Over the next year, Duffield developed and implemented Darkcoin’s signature technologies like InstantX and DarkSend.

In March 2015, Darkcoin was rebranded to Dash, which stands for “digital cash”. This represented a shift in focus towards usability and widespread adoption.

While Evan Duffield was the founder and original lead developer, Dash has grown into an organization with many contributors worldwide. This decentralized team continues advancing Dash each year.

Timeline of Dash Operations

Here’s an overview of key milestones over Dash’s eight-year history:

  • January 2014 – Initial launch as Xcoin, followed by rebrand to Darkcoin
  • Late 2014 – Over 1 million Darkcoins mined in the first year
  • March 2015 – Rebrand from Darkcoin to Dash
  • Late 2015 – Release of InstantSend and PrivateSend
  • 2016 – First Dash-focused conference held in London
  • 2017 – Launch of the Dash Core v12.1 with automatic InstantSend and improvements
  • 2017 – Price reaches an all-time high of around $1,600 USD per Dash
  • 2017 – Release of Sentinel, bringing security benefits like DDoS protection
  • 2018 – Formation of the Dash Core Team non-profit organization
  • 2019 – Dash counts over 200 employees and organizations funded by the DAO
  • 2021 – Active masternode count passes 5,000 as adoption grows
  • 2022 – Release of Dash Platform on testnet to support decentralized apps

How Does Dash Work?

Like Bitcoin, Dash utilizes blockchain technology to operate as a decentralized payment network. Here are some of the key components powering the Dash system:


New Dash is created through a process called mining. Miners use specialized hardware to solve complex cryptographic problems that validate transactions on the blockchain.

Instead of Bitcoin’s Proof of Work system, Dash uses a Proof of Service algorithm called X11 that is intended to be ASIC-resistant, giving more users the ability to mine with GPUs.


In addition to miners, the Dash network is secured by masternodes. Masternodes are full nodes that hold at least 1000 DASH as collateral.

They provide advanced services to the network including InstantSend, PrivateSend, and governance functions. Masternodes earn 45% of the block reward for the services they provide.


The Dash blockchain records and verifies all transactions on the network. Dash utilizes blockchain technology to achieve decentralized consensus about transaction validity.


Dash’s InstantSend technology utilizes masternodes to instantly lock in and confirm transactions in under 4 seconds. This enables secure point-of-sale payments and transactions with confidence.


For user privacy, Dash offers PrivateSend transactions that mix or “tumble” funds to obscure the original source of money. This prevents transactions from being traced back to a person or entity.


A Decentralized Autonomous Organization structure powered by the masternodes enables governance functions like voting and budgeting to guide Dash’s growth.

Together, these components form a fast, private, secure, and self-governing cryptocurrency system.

How is Dash Different from Bitcoin?

Although Dash was initially forked from Bitcoin’s codebase, there are several key ways Dash diverged from Bitcoin’s model over the years:

  • Increased speed – Thanks to InstantSend, Dash can confirm transactions in under 4 seconds while Bitcoin transactions take 10+ minutes on average. This allows Dash to be used for point-of-sale purchases and other everyday transactions.
  • Enhanced privacy – Dash offers optional private transactions through its PrivateSend mixing service. Bitcoin has pseudonymous addresses but all transactions are transparent.
  • Distributed governance – Dash has a Decentralized Autonomous Organization structure where masternodes vote on funding proposals to shape development. Bitcoin lacks an organized governance model.
  • Alternative mining algorithm – Dash uses a Proof of Service model called X11 that aims to be ASIC-resistant while Bitcoin uses SHA-256 Proof of Work.
  • Lower fees – Sending money on the Dash network costs a fraction of a penny due to low miner fees. Bitcoin has faced criticism for high fees during times of congestion.
  • Sustainable funding model – Dash’s treasury system earmarks 10% of newly mined coins to fund development. Bitcoin lacks an incentive structure to fund continued growth.

While Bitcoin retains a first-mover advantage, Dash optimized in key areas that Bitcoin faces challenges with, namely speed, fees, and governance. This positions Dash as a user-friendly digital cash.

Dash Enterprise Features and Partners

In recent years, Dash has focused on increasing adoption through business partnerships and enterprise-facing features.

Dash Platform

The Dash Platform provides tools for building business applications on top of the Dash blockchain. APIs and documentation make it simple for companies to integrate Dash transactions into their platforms.

Kripto Mobile

A 2019 partnership with Brazilian crypto company Kripto Mobile brought Dash to over 20,000 physical stores in Brazil through their crypto debit card solution. This demonstrated Dash’s retail potential in Latin America.


Cryptobuyer integrated Dash into their network of ATMs and merchant point-of-sale services in Panama and South America. Consumers can now easily buy Dash at local ATMs.

Bitgo Business Wallet

Institutional custody provider Bitgo added Dash support to their multi-signature cryptocurrency wallet for businesses in 2020. This expanded Dash’s potential with large enterprises needing secure storage.

As Dash continues seeking mutually beneficial business integrations, it aims to make digital cash solutions accessible to organizations and end users worldwide.

The Dash Ecosystem

Beyond the Dash currency itself, a number of other technologies and projects make up the Dash ecosystem:


There are many wallet options available for storing Dash. Dash Core is the official desktop and mobile wallet. Third-party options include hardware wallets like Ledger and Trezor for cold storage.


Leading exchanges like Binance, Bittrex, Kraken, and KuCoin allow exchanging Dash for other cryptocurrencies or buying it with fiat currency. Dash’s high liquidity enables active trading.

Merchant Solutions

Various payment processors offer plugins and API integration to accept Dash payments. These include Cryptobuyer’s Dash Digital Cash Register for retail and the Anypay payment gateway for online stores.


There are hundreds of ATM locations in countries like Venezuela and Colombia that facilitate buying and selling Dash with cash without a bank account.


The Dash community spans forums like Dash Forum, the discussion section on Dash News, and the Dash Discord server where users interact and assist each other.


Dash Core Group leads the development of the Dash source code and roadmap. Additionally, anyone can contribute ideas and work on Dash’s open-source GitHub repository.

This ecosystem provides a diversity of ways people can utilize Dash for payments, trading, earning, spending, and getting involved.

Dash Masternodes and What Makes Them Unique

A distinguishing component of Dash’s network is its masternode system. Here’s an overview of how Dash masternodes work:

  • Collateral requirement – Masternodes must prove 1000 Dash collateral, currently valued at around $25,000 USD. This high barrier to entry ensures that only invested users operate these crucial nodes.
  • Incentivization – Masternodes earn approximately 45% of the mining block reward for providing services to the network. This incentive model funds the masternode system in a decentralized way.
  • Services provided – Masternodes enable PrivateSend, InstantSend, and governance functions. They are the backbone powering Dash’s advanced features.
  • Decentralization – There are over 5,000 globally distributed masternodes, achieving a milestone of enough nodes to prevent coordinated attacks on the network.
  • Evolution – The upcoming Dash Platform release will allow masternodes to host and power decentralized applications, further expanding their capabilities.

By combining a requirement of significant collateral with financial incentives, masternodes ensure committed, invested stakeholders uphold the Dash network. They provide the decentralization and functionality to power Dash as digital cash.

The Dash Governance Model

Unlike most cryptocurrencies where development is controlled by specific people or organizations, Dash uses a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) model for governance and decision-making about the Dash ecosystem. Here’s how Dash governance works:

  • Voting power – Masternodes have the ability to vote Yes or No on proposals to fund projects or make changes to Dash’s blockchain. Each masternode gets one vote.
  • Budget funding – Each month, 10% of newly mined Dash is set aside to fund proposals that achieve a net Yes vote from masternodes. This decentralized treasury system isn’t dependent on any centralized authority.
  • Proposal process – Anybody can submit a proposal, as long as they pay a 1 Dash fee to prevent spam. Proposals that get to net Yes vote are funded from the treasury.
  • Governance evolution -Specialized committees are being formed so masternodes can take a more active role beyond just voting. This will involve participating in project management.

This decentralized, blockchain-based approach to governance allows the Dash network to evolve based on what the community wants and is willing to fund, not the interests of a select group of decision-makers.


In summary, Dash is a pioneering cryptocurrency launched in 2014 that offers speed, privacy, and decentralized community governance. Its masternode network powers unique features and enables proposal-based funding for development. After eight years of continuous improvement, Dash has cemented itself as a leading digital currency, especially for fast, low-cost transactions and self-governing development. With initiatives like the Dash Platform on the horizon, Dash aims to become the decentralized payment solution of choice for consumers and businesses worldwide.