UPDATE (2nd March 21:45 BST): This article has been updated with comment from Dash director of finance Ryan Taylor.
Some have called it scam, others a cutting-edge digital currency.
Either way, the price of dash has surged in recent days. The digital currency’s price, billed as a faster, more user-oriented bitcoin, is up more than 100% in the past week, reaching a high of close to $60 today, according to CoinMarketCap.com.
Rising as much as 40% yesterday alone, market observers, traders, advocates and critics have taken to social media to give their take on the recent price ramp in a subject that has become a dominating discussion among traders and investors on Twitter.
For those who are new to the subject, dash – originally known as darkcoin prior to its rebranding – has earned its share of supporters and critics in the years since it launched.
During that time, the digital currency’s public-facing image has shifted from one centered more squarely on financial privacy toward one that seeks to highlight its ease of use in online commerce.
But why is this price ramp happening now?
Some have argued that a mixture of exchange integrations and plans for a user experience upgrade (among other technical updates) are behind the speculation that has led to the price increases. In their view, the increase is the culmination of years of development and expansion.
Others are alleging that the price increase is merely the front-end of the kind of pump-and-dump market scheme commonly seen in cryptocurrency markets with lower volumes. Further, some argue that “whales” – traders with large holdings – are effectively in control of the market.
Allegations that the digital currency was the subject of an “instamine” scam – in which large amounts of coins were generated early on in its existence – have also resurfaced in light of the price rise, though the team behind dash has denied that the situation was as portrayed.
Still, the rise could be a mix of trends in both areas – a combination of long-term enthusiasts and short-term traders who, eager to see gains and ride the momentum, are also throwing their hats in the ring.
At press time, the price of dash is up 12.5% on the day.
What is dash?
To begin, dash is described by some as a two-tier network, one that relies on both miners and masternodes.
The network is secured by proof-of-work mining (the consensus mechanism bitcoin uses), while its X11 algorithm is based on eleven different hashing functions.
The masternode is a kind of proof-of-service layer. These nodes act as both transaction mixers and boosters, as well as voting mechanisms for the digital currency’s governance system.
Block rewards are divided between these two layers.
Miners receive 45% of rewards, masternodes receive 45%, and the other 10% is allocated to the decentralized budgeting system that dash utilizes. That system enables users to vote to allocate resources for development, marketing and other purposes.
One factor that seems to be having a concrete impact on the price rise is the relative scarcity of coins available for trade on major exchanges relative to the total supply of dash.
Poloniex data, for example, shows roughly 40,000 coins is available on the sell-side, with about 1,500 coins worth of buy orders.
This scarcity is further fueled by the use of masternodes.
A masternode requires a deposit of 1,000 DASH, the network’s cryptocurrency, funds that then generate income by receiving a portion of each mining block reward. Available data suggests that around 4,000 masternodes are being run today, meaning that more than half of the total coins in existence – about 7.1m – are locked up.
Chris Burninske, blockchain products lead for ARK Investment, has been tweeting his analysis of the market ramp-up, positing that the mix of an illiquid market and trading momentum is behind the push.
Burninske had previously published a twitter analysis of the digital currency, asserting that, in his view, the only key metric that shows upward growth is that of trade volume. Others, including market analyst Willy Woo, have also taken a critical tack.
In a statement to CoinDesk, Dash director of finance Ryan Taylor said that dash is “proving itself in a highly competitive field”, citing the project’s approach to governance and functionality.
“I believe that we are witnessing the market recognition of Dash as a true challenger to Bitcoin’s dominance of the cryptocurrency market. In a way that Bitcoin cannot, Dash is focusing on the user experience and applying payments industry best-practices into our product,” he said.
The analyses above raise the question of whether this price ramp will last in the long-term.
Data from Poloniex shows a big drop amidst today’s trading, with the price hovering between $42 and $43 at press time.
Many speculators on social media, including the official dash subreddit, seem to back the notion that the price is in the midst of a significant bubble.
That said, it’s anyone’s best guess as to whether the price will rise, fall or maintain a kind of status-quo from here.
Garrett Keirns co-authored this report.
Images via Poloniex, Shutterstock