After remaining quiescent since early September, Dash has enjoyed a substantial run recently. Beginning November 12, the price of Dash shot up from $310 to visit lofty heights above $800. At press time, the currency trades for $750.

This has been an extraordinary year for cryptocurrency, and it’s tempting to attribute Dash’s rapid rise to the speculative frenzy that has seized the entire market. However, there are signs that something more may be driving Dash. Is it possible we are seeing the first steps toward increased adoption?

New integration

Today, Dash and Uphold made a joint press release to announce the currency’s integration into Uphold’s platform which allows users to buy, send and sell digital currencies using the web or a mobile phone. According to the joint statement, the new integration will allow 94% of the world’s population to use Dash.

The integration is live, and Uphold plans to add support for Dash’s InstantSend feature soon. InstantSend is an optional feature that’s native to the Dash protocol. Users who send Dash using InstantSend have their transactions fully confirmed in just a few seconds, rather than minutes or hours.

Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor wrote:

“Uphold adds to the Dash ecosystem the fastest and easiest method yet for everyday consumers to acquire Dash. Dash already has many of the world’s largest digital currency exchanges integrated, but exchanges are generally intimidating for average users unaccustomed to trading. Uphold makes transactions much simpler than an exchange, and it supports users from most geographies.”

Uphold’s Head of Global Business Development, Colin Luce, said:

“We were eager to add Dash primarily due to the increased adoption and of real-world use cases. The organizational structure of Dash, with masternodes and proposals and the Core Group, is a recipe for long-term success, especially at a time where the vast majority of the top one-hundred blockchains and currencies are still primarily speculative.”

Earlier integrations

Dash has announced a number of integrations and partnerships this year, and each one takes the currency a step closer to real-world adoption. Some examples include:

Alt36 - This company is integrating Dash into a retail point-of-sale system. Alt36’s target market is the legal cannabis industry, which is completely cut off from the banking system due to federal regulations. At present, the legal marijuana industry is a cash business, and the costs of handling, guarding and transporting large amounts of cash are enormous. Since Dash’s InstantSend allows transactions to fully confirm in seconds, users can check out and leave the store immediately without waiting on multiple confirmations.

Exchange integrations - This year has seen Dash added to Bitfinex, Bitthumb, Huobi, Binance, Kraken and others. The integration with Kraken was particularly noteworthy, as Dash’s budget system paid Kraken $50,000 to conduct a security review on the currency and its InstantSend feature before integrating it. Dash passed the security review and was added to the exchange in April.

BlockCypher - In February, Dash’s budget system funded an integration with BlockCypher for the development of a hot wallet API. The API was launched a short time later, allowing vendors to easily add Dash payment options. BlockCypher has also attended several conferences jointly with Dash and has partnered with the Dash network to issue grants to startups in the Blockchain industry.

ASU - This summer Dash and Arizona State University announced the development of a Blockchain Research Lab at the university. The lab was funded by Dash’s budget system to the tune of $50,000. Fortune reported that the lab “will focus on blockchain scalability, best practice, network architecture, environmentally-friendly mining, latency and throughput.” At a later date, the university may begin offering classes taught by Dash Core executives.

Debit cards - Dash is now available on several cryptocurrency debit cards, enabling users to spend their Dash at any retailer who accepts Visa. At present, there are about 40 mln such businesses.

At Dash Conference 2017, held in London this September, Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor announced that a number of integrations would be coming along in the future, including:

  • Global brokerage service with free bank transfers
  • New exchange integrations
  • Dash will have access to 20 new fiat currencies
  • An additional ATM manufacturer
  • Integration with several large retailers
  • A healthcare integration

2 MB blocks

Developers knew that Dash’s drive to mainstream adoption would never get off the ground if the currency network couldn’t scale. While Bitcoin and Ethereum have begun work on off-chain scaling solutions, Dash announced that it was pursuing on-chain scaling solutions using bigger blocks which would be processed by Dash’s incentivized masternode network.

Last month, Dash developers released version 12.2 of the Dash Core software, and when enough miners and masternodes upgraded, a 2 MB blocksize increase was locked in. Today, the bigger blocks officially became active, and Dash is now capable of processing twice the number of transactions per second. In the not-too-distant future, Dash will be increasing its blocksize again, to 5 MB.

Go big or go home

This past summer, Dash’s founder Evan Duffield announced that the developers had a plan to scale the currency using massively large blocks. Under the plan, Dash’s blocksize would gradually increase to 45 MB or more, enabling the network to handle up to 50 million users. The plan would work by requiring masternodes to run custom hardware capable of handling such large blocks. Masternode owners would be able to afford this expensive hardware because their nodes receive 45% of the block reward - roughly $65,000 per year, at today’s prices.

Budgeting for success

Dash’s budget system has been a critical part of the currency’s growth. Each month, 10% of the block rewards for the entire month are reserved for budget proposals. Masternode owners, who each control 1,000 DASH, vote on these proposals and the ones that are approved are paid directly by Dash’s Blockchain. At present prices, Dash’s budget system is able to fund $5 mln in projects every month. That money pays for Dash’s development team, community projects, attendance at conferences, business integrations and more.

Increasing adoption

Some argue that Dash can’t hope to compete against established behemoths like Bitcoin and Ethereum, whose market capitalization dwarf Dash’s. Yet others, like Max Keiser, believe there is plenty of room for multiple cryptocurrencies to survive. Keiser notes:

“Dash is emerging as the crypto payment rail while Bitcoin asserts itself as Gold 2.0. I suggest those frustrated by the Bitcoin scaling debate to embrace Dash for payments and leave Bitcoin Core alone to continue working on Gold 2.0.”

Meanwhile, Taylor comments:

“Dash is focused on becoming the first digital currency capable of mass-market adoption. We believe our incentivized infrastructure model offers a viable path to providing the capacity required to operate at massive scale.”