Confirmations are an alien concept for people outside of the cryptocurrency community. Waiting for a variable amount of time to learn if the payment is complete? Really? In the case of Bitcoin, full transaction finality takes about an hour to achieve. Confirmations were a necessary evil because of the technical difficulties of developing consensus across a large decentralized network. No more.
Last week Dash activated ChainLocks and LLMQ-Based InstantSend, achieving the finality of transactions that blockchains have promised — in around 1 second. This means that when you send Dash, the recipient receives it in a second and can immediately spend it. The end recipient of any series of these transactions can accept payment without risk or uncertainty that the funds will settle successfully. Dash is now usable exactly as you would expect cash to operate, but within the convenience of the digital world.
This has all been achieved without compromising decentralization or security. In fact, security has dramatically increased because Dash is now the only mineable protocol that is immune to a particular security risk called a “51% mining attack”. This vulnerability allows an attacker to reverse transactions that were earlier considered “confirmed”, essentially enabling them to steal back previously processed funds. Elimination of 51% attacks is not just a theoretical improvement, because recently projects like Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and others were victims of these attacks. Recently, there was even discussion of a few miners performing a chain reorganization in the Bitcoin blockchain at the request of a large exchange. Although the plans were ultimately abandoned, the threat for Bitcoin remains.
The Dash network is different from Bitcoin’s in that it has a second decentralized layer on top of the mining one. This layer — the masternodes — can work in real time to validate activities on the network. It is also extremely resistant to attacks. An attacker planning to attack for control would need to buy more than 20% of the coin supply, which at current prices would be worth nearly 300 million USD. In reality, this cost would increase exponentially because of the enormous amount of buying pressure the attempted purchase would create. This price inflation would quickly erode any financial benefits the attacker might hope to achieve through an attack.
The innovation that supports all these achievements is called Long Living Masternode Quorums (or LLMQ). If you are interested in the technical details, you can learn more here. For more information related to the new features activated this week which work on top of LLMQ, ChainLocks and LLMQ-Based-InstantSend, read here and here.