You could have picked up one DASH for around $15 USD in January 2017 — but today, a single unit will cost you $1,060 — an all-time high. Sure, that’s a familiar story in the 2017 crypto gold rush, but Dash has a tendency to stand out. It’s the first non-Bitcoin cryptocurrency to crack $1,000 USD per unit. Its ecosystem includes slick branding and strong grassroots community support — on top of several compelling technological innovations like privacy, instant payments, a “masternodes” tier and its own “treasury”. Bitsonline spoke to Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor about what makes it popular, and what the community has coming in 2018.

Also read: Anonymous Donor Gives $1 Million in Bitcoin to Anti-Aging Research

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Dash launched in January 2014, known first as XCoin and then Darkcoin, with a primary focus on privacy and anonymity. A year later though, it adopted its current name (digital+cash), with a broader mission to become a fast and feature-rich payments ecosystem. Though still grouped among the “privacy coins” with Zcash and Monero, masked transactions are optional on the Dash network.

A Community – or a Distributed Organization?

Its community and formalized governance structure have led some to refer to the Dash ecosystem as actually a DAO (distributed autonomous organization) with defined roles, rather than a simple cryptocurrency community. It certainly displays many attributes of such an entity.

Even other projects have paid attention to this — Zcoin recently announced it would implement its own version of a masternode structure, and other lesser-known cryptocoins have done the same.

Bitsonline spoke recently to Ryan Taylor, CEO of main protocol software developer, Dash Core. He talked to us about new software features, launch of the upcoming “Evolution” payments network, and how (and where) the organization plans to expand in the coming years.

Interview: Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor

JS: What’s causing the current price run, and why does Dash often soar while everything else is plunging? It’s an odd discrepancy.

RT: The other week we saw Bitcoin’s bullish price surge only to be met with a steep fall. While bitcoin’s value is typically a good indicator of the entire cryptocurrency market, Dash has historically been a much more stable, less volatile digital currency and actually soared to record highs then.

Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor

Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor

Dash’s price surge has been a result of many things; first, we have migrated to the latest software version, 12.2, which has enhanced scaling efforts and network stability. The Dash network is now able to handle eight times the amount of transactions per second Bitcoin currently handles, and the fees for transactions have been cut by a factor of ten.

For a Dash InstantSend transaction, the user would pay about $0.06, compared to Bitcoin’s $10+ USD fees, and the verification is instantaneous. Regular transactions are under one U.S. cent. Secondly, Dash has shown tremendous value in its ability to provide people an alternative store of value or payment method against their normal fiat.

This is especially important in parts of Africa, Venezuela and Argentina, where hyperinflation is rife. We just announced a joint venture with KuvaCash where Dash aims to become a currency of choice for residents in Zimbabwe.

Thirdly, we are relatively close to rolling out our revolutionary new decentralized payments system, Dash Evolution. Due for release next year, Dash Evolution will bring digital currency to the mainstream in a way we have not seen before.

Finally, Dash was the first blockchain project to introduce a true, sustainable, well functioning governance and treasury model, whereby 10 percent of newly mined Dash goes towards proposals that will help develop and improve the Dash network. It’s my opinion that people have begun to see the real value in this approach.

dash relay race

JS: Who invented Dash’s governance system and what role does it play in increasing the user base?

RT: The founder of Dash, Evan Duffield, was the person who created this model, and users have completely embraced it. Anyone with a certain collateral of Dash can become a masternode owner, and similar to a shareholder, vote on proposals put forward by the community.

The masternode owners also make decisions to determine the leadership team and funding allocation for its development.

The masternodes play two critical roles in the growth of the userbase and ecosystem of services on the network. First, they act as stewards over the allocation of funding to proposals, and ensure the funding is allocated toward projects that will benefit Dash’s growth. Second, because they are paid to provide high-quality server capacity to the network, they ensure that Dash can scale to large transaction volumes to serve mass-market number of users.

Dash Force

Dash’s name pops up in some unexpected places

JS: Where’s the best place to look at Dash data & statistics? (e.g. info on masternodes, transactions, bandwidth and block size, etc.)

RT: The best resource for Dash data and statistics is the Masternodes Monitoring page on Dash Ninja.

Additional historical charts on transactions, average block size, and other network information can be found here.

JS: When will Evolution be ready for everyone? What impact do you think that will have after it’s released?

RT: I believe Evolution will open the door to widespread adoption because it will act like and look similar to current online banking systems, but be capable of much more. Users can send money anywhere in the world, and buy goods and services from a globally integrated marketplace, without any exorbitant fees, international conversion costs or time delays, all through a simple, easy to use interface, on mobile or online.

Evolution will deliver a clean PayPal-like experience to users, making Dash incredibly easy and simple to use for any demographic, regardless of language, geography, age or technological know-how.

The Evolution alpha is expected to be released in early 2018, with the final version set for public launch in Q2 or Q3 2018.

Dash Conference

Dash Conference 2017

JS: Are you seeing increased merchant adoption? If so, any industries in particular?

RT: Dash’s InstantSend technology makes it the top cryptocurrency for e-commerce and decentralized payments. Currently there are hundreds of physical stores and over 500 websites that accept Dash, and hundreds of thousands of other merchants that accept it through Dash enabled credit and debit cards.

We are working every day on increasing Dash accessibility, an example being an integration with Uphold the other week. The key for merchants accepting Dash as a payment method in comparison to bitcoin for example, is that our transactions lock within a matter of seconds, making Dash purchases feasible at the register. It’s also enticing for vendors and suppliers in other industries because Dash integration can completely eradicate cash-handling costs.

JS: I’ve seen less focus on privacy features recently — is that real or just me? Is there any move to make Dash more appealing simply as a general alternative to Bitcoin and others?

RT: Dash privacy is entirely optional and less than a total of 1 percent of Dash transactions are privacy enabled. Privacy is one of the features that Dash incorporates into its overall user interface, but our mission is completely removed from having a singular focus on privacy or providing something that is optimized for transaction obscurity.

Dash has always had a mission to be a great payments system overall, and privacy is just one aspect of what it takes to achieve our mission.

Dash digital cash

JS: Is there anything I’ve overlooked here, or are there any interesting Dash-related projects I should take a look at?

RT: 2017 has been a year of tremendous growth for us. On January 1, 2017, Dash’s market cap was $78 million USD. Five months later, on June 1, Dash’s market cap surpassed $1 billion USD. Today, it’s nearly $8 billion USD.

But for me, while growth in value, liquidity and stability are extremely important, the upside comes from our partnerships and the way we are providing people a better method of payment, wherever they are in the world. We will have several integrations upcoming in the early phase of 2018, and we will be unveiling them as integrations are completed.