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Dash is an open source cryptocurrency and is a form of decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) run by a subset of users, called "masternodes". It is an altcoin that was forked from the Bitcoin protocol. The currency permits fast transactions that can be untraceable. 45% of mined coins go to miners, 45% to masternodes, and 10% into a fund that the DAO invests.
The currency was launched in January 2014 as "Xcoin" by Evan Duffield, as a fork of the Bitcoin protocol. It is an altcoin and in its early days it was subject to pump and dump speculation. It was rebranded as Darkcoin, which received press from the media as being used in dark net markets. In March 2015, it rebranded again with the name Dash as a portmanteau of 'digital cash'. As of August 2016, Dash is no longer used in any major dark net markets worth noting.
In early 2017 Duffield, who lived in the Phoenix area, and some other people working on Dash took space in a business incubator at Arizona State University. The Dash DAO later funded a blockchain research lab at ASU.
Governance is handled through a form of decentralized autonomous organization in which decisions are made on a blockchain by "masternodes". Masternodes perform standard node functions like hosting a copy of the blockchain, relaying messages, and validating transactions on the network, and in addition act as shareholders, voting on proposals for improving Dash's ecosystem. Along with masternodes, the system includes standard nodes and miners.
Running a masternode requires ownership of 1000 Dash. Masternodes are also required to have a static IP address and meet minimum requirements for CPU, RAM, disk space and network bandwidth. To incentivize their operation, masternodes receive 45% of all newly created Dash (with 45% going to miners and 10% to the organization's treasury).
Because of this two-tiered system in which miners have no vote, it is uncertain if Dash is truly decentralized. The system has been criticized due to the power that early adopters acquired; around two million Dash were mined on the first day the system operated, while the 1,000 coin buy-in price for a masternode cost around $1 million in December 2017.
Masternodes provide two additional kinds of transactions. "InstantSend" bypasses mining and instead requires a consensus of masternodes to validate a transaction, speeding transactions. "PrivateSend" is intended to make transactions untraceable; it mixes participating users' unspent Dash before executing a transaction.
There are several prepaid debit cards that can be loaded with Dash and spent in local currencies. In 2018 the e-commerce payment system company Alt Thirty Six (Alternative36, Inc.) began offering electronic payments in Dash for companies in the legal cannabis industry in the United States.
The Dash DAO uses the 10% it receives from mining to invest as the DAO chooses.
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