Dash has activated two sporks finalizing the 0.13 upgrade, locking in deterministic masternodes and activating InstantSend transactions by default.

Last week, Dash activated two sporks, or multi-phased forks, the last two elements locking in the final features of the version 0.13 upgrade to ensure a smooth transition. The first, spork 15, locked in deterministic masternodes, the new split-key setup allowing roles for each masternode to be run by separate keys: collateral key, voting key, and operator key. An important benefit of this is overhauling the process of accessing the masternode network, as Dash’s product manager Liz Robuck explained in a recent blog post:

“Now, the network uses a single source of truth (the deterministic masternode list) to determine the recipient of the masternode portion of the block reward in a transaction, rather than relying on peer-to-peer messages to work this out. In addition, when quorums of masternodes are used to validate transactions, the quorum is determined by information found on the blockchain itself. This ensures that nodes come to agreement on which masternodes get included in a quorum, because rather than maintain its own masternode list, a node can pull the data from an on-chain, single source of truth.”

Following the activation of spork 15, all masternodes not yet upgraded were dropped from the network, leaving only upgraded, deterministic masternodes operational. At the time of the spork’s activation, nearly 4,700 masternodes were active on the network, and immediately following the spork’s activation that number briefly dropped below 4,100 as several hundred nodes which were not upgraded in time were dropped from the network. Since then, the masternode counts have recovered as more nodes have upgraded and come back online, leaving the present count at 4,524. This is down from the all-time high of 4,967 in late 2018.

InstantSend by default vastly improves the default Dash experience across supporting platforms

Most notable to the average user in the final activation of the 0.13 upgrade was spork 16, or automatic InstantSend. This activation will instantly settle the vast majority of Dash transactions by default from here on out, according to Robuck:

“The team is also excited to now offer network users automatic instant payments for transactions with 4 or fewer inputs. These transactions represents over 90% of transactions on the Dash network, so almost all users will benefit from this feature — at no additional cost. The system will attempt to “lock” any transaction with 4 or less inputs by default, and remove the additional fee that historically was needed for instant transactions.”

Previous to this upgrade, default Dash transactions were broadcast and visible instantly, though not fully confirmed on the blockchain until about 2.5 minutes, while a select few wallets and services supporting InstantSend could optionally lock in transactions instantly for an additional small fee. Now, nearly all transactions will be locked and settled instantly by default for no extra fee, whether or not the wallet or service explicitly supports InstantSend functionality. This makes a difference with popular point-of-sale apps Spark and Anypay, both of which display a lock on a Dash invoice that has received and InstantSend transaction. Additionally, services such as Bitrefill recognize InstantSend transactions and deliver vouchers instantly, while customers paying in other currencies will have to wait for confirmations. Finally, customers of exchanges that recognize InstantSend transactions can now instantly move funds on and off, or between, the platforms, greatly facilitating keeping funds in user control, as well as opening up various arbitrage opportunities, giving Dash the exclusive edge for some trading use cases.

Version 0.14 on testnet with further InstantSend improvements, anti-51% attack ChainLocks

In addition to the improvements already in place thanks to the finalization of the version 0.13 upgrade, the newly released 0.14 version, which is now live on testnet, promises includes several key improvements based on the long-living masternode quorum (LLMQ) innovation. The first of these is ChainLocks, a process for leveraging the masternode network to improve the security of proof-of-work mining, preventing 51% attacks and other similar mining attacks, potentially making Dash one of the world’s most secure payment networks. Finally, LLMQ-based InstantSend, an improvement to the InstantSend process which promises to significantly reduce resource usage, is planned for version 0.14 as well. This will also significantly improve the user experience of InstantSend transactions, cutting down on time delays between each permanently-settled transaction, as explained by Robuck in another post:

“In combination with ChainLocks, LLMQ-based InstantSend is able to lift most of the limitations found in the old InstantSend implementation. In the old system, 6+ on-chain confirmations were a strong requirement for funds to be sent instantly. This limitation is now lifted if funds are already confirmed through ChainLocks or received through LLMQ-based InstantSend, which means that in most cases received funds can be re-spent immediately via InstantSend.”

The next major scheduled Dash upgrade is version 1.0, considered the debut of the long-awaited Evolution release, which will include blockchain users and contact lists, providing a seamless and user-friendly experience unprecedented in decentralized cryptocurrency.