“Dash’s” Sprint Forward: Why I’m Intrigued

Many in the global crypto community are growing increasingly frustrated with Bitcoin. And I happen to be among them.

My main gripe with Bitcoin is its almost exclusive use as a speculative investment, diminishing its core intent as a peer-to-peer alternative to fiat. Moreover, the issue of high transaction fees continues to hang in the balance, a major impediment to bitcoin consumer use throughout the world.

In 2016, I heard a buddy of mine Ashe Whitener, host of the show Liberty Entrepreneurs, give a presentation in Denver about an up and coming cryptocurrency called Dash. It wasn’t until recently that Dash began to reappear on my radar screen again amid all of craziness surrounding bitcoin and it’s meteoric ride.

If you are unfamiliar with Dash, then here is my best take at a descriptive.

It is a leading e-commerce and payments-focused digital currency, and a rising alternative to bitcoin. Dash has the distinction of having been consistently ranked among the top ten digital currencies by market capitalization and only one of few offering safe, decentralized financial solutions to real world problems.

Dash has four attributes that are particularly appealing to me, namely, it’s portable, cost effective, divisible, and fast. It can be spent easily and instantly online at merchants across the globe, at much lower fees than credit and debit cards.

With over 50 members on the development team and a unique blockchain mining and treasury model, Dash is the only major self-funded, self-governed organization in the cryptocurrency industry. This allows for constant development and funding for the entire project. Community members can upload and vote on proposals, and if they are approved, they are paid for directly from the blockchain.

What has me particularly excited is the company’s plans to unveil a groundbreaking product called Dash Evolution, the industry’s first easy to use decentralized payments platform in 2018. As emblazoned on their website, the Evolution mission is to:

…….make digital cash easy to use and access for all users, even those who aren’t technologically savvy. Anybody will be able to setup an account on the blockchain, add contacts and pay them by name. Purchases from websites or mobile apps will be simple, requiring only a single click.

Then there’s the recent flurry of collaborative partnerships that are accelerating Dash’s push forward. I can’t even keep up with them all. Here are a few:

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November 23, 2017 — Dash announced that it has formed a partnership with KuvaCash to launch a program targeting Zimbabwe’s ballooning inflation, collapsing currency, and declining national economy.

KuvaCash is a Dash-record $550K USD undertaking, funded directly by the Dash treasury via its unique governance model. It aims to provide Zimbabwe with its first-ever peer-to-peer localized cryptocurrency payment service for anyone with a phone-number-based messaging system. This will allow locals who currently have to wait hours in bank queues experiencing exorbitant fees on transactions to access their money seamlessly and inexpensively.

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January 8, 2018 — Dash announced an integration with the leading Latin American exchange, BitINKA, providing citizens across Central and South America with the ability to buy and sell Dash using their local fiat currency. The South American-based exchange, which works with 35 banks across 12 countries, will provide greater access to Dash in Latin America. This development will be of particular benefit to countries suffering from economic turmoil.

The integration comes at a time where inflation in Venezuela has reached an all-time high. According to the Finance and Economic Development Permanent Parliamentary Committee of Venezuela, inflation has reached a record 1,370 percent for 2017 and 56.7 percent for November. Argentina concurrently is at 21 percent inflation for November.

The integration of Dash onto BitINKA will provide citizens of Latin American countries a decentralized alternative to government-issued banknotes, complete with InstantSend functionality, and secure, near fee-free transactions.

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January 17, 2018 — Arizona State University and Dash announced a partnership designed to accelerate research, development, and education in ways that advance blockchain transaction speed, efficiency, security, and expand its uses.

The new $350,000 Dash-ASU agreement announced today includes:

  • The Dash Scholars Program, which provides $100,000 in scholarships for undergraduate and graduate research fellowships;
  • Research lab and Industry open source projects, providing an additional $100,000 in funding for ASU’s Blockchain Research Lab (BRL) and $50,000 in new funding for the Luminosity Lab, and
  • Blockchain course development, with $100,000 for creating an online graduate course expected to be offered at ASU this fall.

The partnership comes after Dash contributed $50,000 USD in Blockchain Research Laboratory startup funding in August 2017. In November, Dash and ASU announced the creation of the BRL at ASU, the first in academia.

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January 22, 2018 — Dash has now been integrated into rising US-based cryptocurrency exchange, Mercury Cash, whose mission is to create a regulated bank for the new digital generation.

The integration means Dash will join Ethereum as the two cryptocurrencies available to buy and sell online via debit and credit card. Over 50% of Mercury Cash’s current user base is located in South America, making it an ideal broker and trading platform for developing countries like Venezuela where the demand for digital currencies is soaring. Mercury Cash holds a Money Transmission Licence (MTL) in Florida, and allows access to US digital currency users, as well as international users.

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February 8, 2018 — Dash today announced its partnership with Bitrefill, the largest cryptocurrency top-up prepaid phone company, reaching over 160 countries and supporting 600 operators worldwide, including Verizon Wireless, TMobile, and AT&T. The partnership will allow Dash customers to pay for their mobile recharge phone, monthly bills, and vouchers for prepaid mobile services, as well as the gaming platform Steam, through the Bitrefill platform.

Bitrefill, which currently supports Bitcoin and Litecoin as forms of payment, indicated strong demand from customers to integrate Dash due to its low fees, and near instant transaction speeds.

Ryan Taylor, CEO of Dash Core

Feature Interview With Ryan Taylor, CEO of Dash Core

In an attempt to satiate my forever growing curiosity about Dash, I recently had the pleasure of talking by phone with Ryan. He was kind enough to entertain my random set of questions; we talked about a lot of stuff, no holds barred. Here’s what he had to share:

It seems like Dash has been pursuing a ton of strategic partnerships of late. In particular, the one with BitRefill really caught my attention. Can you talk about this?

I think this partnership is significant in a number of different ways. First, it gives Dash users in 160 countries, practically everywhere on earth, the ability to top-up prepaid phone services at a very low cost. We see this as a significant benefit to unbanked and underbanked people across the world who use prepaid phone services.

And what about the partnership with Kuvacash?

The timing for your question couldn’t be better as I just recently met with the leadership team there. More than anything, I think that this move is signaling digital currency’s adoption in locations where the motivation to switch from fiat currency is the highest. In places like Zimbabwe where access to cash is a significant issue, I think that switching users over to digital form has some major benefits. Without visiting Zimbabwe, it’s hard for one to truly appreciate the pain that people go through in executing even a basic money transaction.

So what’s the significance of these partnerships?

In the end, these partnerships in addition to the value they deliver give us access to a large number of merchants and consumers, something that allows the Dash network to scale very quickly. We call them “channel partners.” In 2018 we are focusing on this channel partner approach by constantly reaching out to payment processors, payment gateways, and merchant acquirers, among others.

Does all of this give Dash a bit of a strategic advantage over its crypto competitors?

We think so. The main difference between Dash and other passive networks is that we’re actively out there doing business development, helping to support those businesses that are on our network, not just helping them offset their costs. The promotion we are doing with Bitrefill, for example, attracts new customers to their platform. We’re seeing an increasing number of businesses use Dash because of the advantages we can bring to the table.

So how are your managing Dash’s growth?

It’s less about how quickly we grow and more about keeping an eye on the quality of our growth. What we don’t want to do is integrate partners and make partnership announcements with companies that end up delivering a poor user experience or providing a service that might fail from time to time. So we are constantly making sure that we’re testing and signing off on these integrations going forward and putting resources where they need to be.

In your mind, what are the major misconceptions about Dash?

I think that to a lesser extent than in the past we still are often labeled as a privacy centric coin. We do believe that privacy is important for a lot of different reasons, including user safety as well as ones right to privacy. But Dash is so much more than that one feature.

Your thoughts on the evolving regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies?

Well, I have a background in Finance along with a MBA from Columbia University in Finance and Economics and worked at a hedge fund for a number of years. So I’m pretty familiar with the rules and regulations that would affect our space. Here’s what I can tell you, the Dash network fails the Howey test on a number of different points. But I’m not concerned about the Dash network itself for I think that our network is well positioned to be viewed favorably by regulators.

What about those countries that are seeking to restrict or even ban cryptocurrencies?

I think that those sort of responses are unlikely to last a long time because there are so many economic benefits to the technology. In my opinion, countries that try to depress this momentum, do so at their own peril. In fact, I believe there will come a time when the use of cryptocurrency is viewed as quite normal.

Talk to us a bit about all of the excitement that’s building around your roll out of Dash Evolution?

We are going to start demo-ing some of the elements of Evolution over the next few months, including the contact list where users can store other user information and connect within the network. The team has created most of these components and are at the stage now where they are starting to demo them and connect them together. So I think throughout the spring we’ll be going through a series of refinements, testing, bug fixes, that type of activity with the goal of rolling out a full set of expected features during this initial release.