It’s been a tumultuous week for cryptocurrencies, yet with all eyes on Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, the digital currency Dash has experienced an impressive surge over the past 24 hours. Earlier in the day, Dash was valued at $319 each. Less than 12 hours later, the price had surged to $520 before retreating to $460 at press time.

Among a sea of red, Dash stood out as one of the day’s biggest gainers, up over 60 percent at its peak. The obvious question is why.

Big blocks activation

As Bitcoin’s big blockers gave up hope following the cancellation of SegWit2x, Dash had already begun the process of activating a block size upgrade on its own network, boosting blocks to 2MB. While Bitcoin Cash is by far the favorite of the big block crowd, it’s possible some have placed at least a portion of their funds in Dash.

Earlier this year, Dash received some positive attention from big blockers Roger Ver and Charlie Shrem.

Dash has its own scalability plan, and it’s chosen an on-chain path. Rather than deploying payment channels like Bitcoin’s experimental Lightning Network or Ethereum’s planned Raiden Network, Dash intends to use ultra-large blocks. Dash’s founder Evan Duffield posted on Medium earlier this year:

“Many projects in the space believe that on-chain scaling is impossible. That’s simply because they haven’t explored alternative P2P architectures for higher performance. We intend to show just how far an incentivized second tier [masternode] architecture can take a project like Dash.”

Version 12.2 and Evolution

The bigger blocks come as part of a network-wide upgrade to version 12.2 of the Dash software. Core developer UdjinM6 posted on the Dash forums:

The most notable changes are:

  • DIP0001 implementation (which is a 2MB block upgrade);
  • Transaction fee reduction 10x (activates via DIP0001 activation);
  • InstantSend vulnerability fix (activates via DIP0001 lock in);
  • PrivateSend improvement which should allow user to have mixed funds available much faster;
  • Various RPC changes;
  • Lots of backports from Bitcoin Core and refactoring of our own legacy code which should improve performance and make code more reliable and easier to review;
  • Experimental HD wallet with BIP39/BIP44 support.

These changes help pave the way for Dash Evolution, expected later next year. Evolution aims to make cryptocurrency use so simple that “even your grandma [could use it].” Since Evolution is expected to be a major upgrade, any steps toward that goal are likely to be favored by the market.

Pump and dump teams at work?

When Dash’s price rose rapidly in March of this year, many believed that pump and dump teams were at work. We’ve seen such pumps and dumps repeatedly this year, as big money quickly buys up an asset, squeezes the shorts, then sells once new investors come in and push the price even higher.

Pump and dump teams are something that no project has any control over, and while most currencies would prefer gradual, organic growth, sometimes market manipulators have other ideas.

Whether due to pump and dump teams or because of sudden appreciation of the project’s prospects, Dash has experienced an unprecedented surge while the overall market dropped. Of the top 10 currencies by market capitalization, Dash is up 33 percent, Ethereum is up four percent and Monero is up seven percent. The others are all flat or down. Indeed, 36 of the top 50 currencies by market cap are in the red today.