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While 2018 was a year characterized by many as the year of one of the harshest bear markets for cryptocurrency to date, the Dash network experienced record growth over the course of the year in developments and adoption. Dash took over as arguably the most used cryptocurrency for payments and retail use, with long-term transaction data backing this up, as well as thousands of merchants added and dozens of new integrations. By every metric other than market capitalization and price, 2018 was a resounding success for Dash.

Adoption

The most significant victory for Dash in 2018 has undoubtedly been merchant adoption, with a large spike in accepting businesses around the world. According to merchant listing site DiscoverDash, a little over 500 known merchants accepted Dash at the end of 2017. Now, that number has grown to 4,692 at time of writing, amounting to over 4,000 new merchants added this year.

Venezuela

Dash’s biggest success story so far is Venezuela, a country plagued with economic issues and hyperinflation, often touted as the perfect use case for cryptocurrency. To date Venezuela has claimed an impressive 2,553 merchants listed on DiscoverDash, over half the global total, up from fewer than 100 at the beginning of the year. This includes local franchises such as TRAKI department stores, Subway, Papa John’s, and Church’s Chicken. The country is also the destination for most of the 66,000 KRIP mobile phones, low-cost smartphones pre-loaded with Dash apps such as the official wallet, Bitrefill, and DiscoverDash, as well as a small amount of Dash. Professional teams on the ground have included a live support desk and an aggressive marketing push, including a social media influencer campaign. A short documentary was made earlier this year showcasing Dash’s explosion in the region, which was quickly rendered obsolete due to the rapid adoption rate. It’s no wonder Venezuela is the world’s top source for Dash wallet downloads.

Colombia

The runner-up in merchant adoption for this year was Colombia, thanks to its impressive outreach team. The country currently ranks third globally for Dash merchant adoption at 346 known businesses, rapidly closing in on the 531 number claimed by the much larger United States. This is particularly important due to Colombia’s proximity and relationship with number one Dash spot Venezuela, indicating that we may see critical mass achieved in Latin America starting in 2019.

Integrations

On the integrations front, Dash claimed dozens of integrations in 2018. Many of these likely went unnoticed or unrecorded, due to the fact that Dash is a decentralized system and any business or service can use it without a public announcement. That being said, we recorded 66+ various major integrations in 2018, including 38+ exchanges and 10+ payment processors, with a variety of special services such as wallets, debit card solutions, gift card platforms, and more.

Exchanges/brokerages

Dash was added to dozens of new exchanges and on-ramps, greatly facilitating the flow of coins globally. Most notable were Digifinex and IDAX, which respectively rank 4th and 10th by adjusted trading volume. Other exchanges added include RealExchange, Bitbns, CoinCola, Panda Exchange, BuyCrypto, CoinvertIt, OmniTrade, eBitcoinics, CoinOyo, DeVere Crypto, ACX, SouthXChange, Styx24, NegocieCoins, BitIt, BitInka, and BitcoinVN. Dash was also added to several brokerage services including Mercury Cash, Kurecoinhub, Paycent, SlithEx (formerly RocketPay), BitNovo (which recently integrated DashText facilitating SMS-based remittances to Venezuela), Payza, and Bit2Me, as well as precious metals brokerage Vaultoro, and instant crypto-to-crypto “flip” services Morph Token, Godex, CryptoWolf, and CoinSwitch.

Dash was added to other services such as Robinhood, AvaTrade, WebMoney, and Abra, as well as ATM network Coinflip and prepaid card service Coinfinity.

Payment processors

Dash was integrated into a host of new payment processors and merchant solutions in 2018. Possibly the most significant was comprehensive cannabis-geared business solution Alt Thirty Six, which commenced B2B payments late this year and promises a wide B2C rollout in early 2019, offering customers the opportunity to purchase cannabis at dispensaries around Arizona, Nevada, California, and Oregon. Dash was also integrated into major online payment processor GoCoin, and both DashText and CoinText have been integrated directly into several popular point-of-sale apps, allowing customers without internet or smartphones to still make purchases with Dash. Several other payment processors added Dash as well, including SlithEx, PayBear, Coinify, Epaymints, AloGateway, Payza, 34 Bytes, Bravo Pawn Systems, and possibly several others.

Wallets, tools, and debit cards

The official Dash wallet, which received a major rebranding and overhaul this year, also received an Uphold integration, allowing users to seamlessly buy and sell Dash directly in the wallet, overcoming one of the most significant barriers for new users. Dash was also integrated into two SMS-based wallets, CoinText and DashText, enabling users in key countries to send and receive Dash without internet or a smartphone, an important feature in the developing world. Dash was also added to the Ethos universal wallet.

Additionally, Dash was added to two different debit card providers, PayCent and Payza, and signed an agreement for integration into the upcoming FuzeX card.

Retailers and gift card services

Dash was added to several gift card services, most notably Bitrefill, which supports InstantSend and offers a 10% Dash-only discount for gift codes to dozens of retailers and mobile phone providers around the world, most notably Amazon, while gift card service CoinCards added Dash as well. A major auto dealership in New Hampshire added Dash and accepted for payment in full for a car, and online rewards points service Rewards.com was added as well, allowing regular shoppers to earn free Dash for purchases, offering a great on-ramp for new users. Other notable integrations include fantasy sports giant FanDuel, travel agency Travala, mobile top-up service Piiko, social media marketing firm Strike Social, online boutique network SugarTrends, mobile network Miracle Tele, and ridesharing startup Abee, among others.

Development

Dash has made significant development progress in 2018, starting with the 0.12.3 release, which added a series of improvements including to PrivateSend, as well as Compact Blocks, which allowed the network to more easily scale to high transaction levels. Version 0.13, one of the most significant in Dash’s history, was deployed on testnet by the end of the year. This includes several major changes including the historic introduction of deterministic masternode lists, an even more significant improvement to PrivateSend‘s efficiency and speed, and InstantSend enabled by default for nearly all transactions. Version 0.14, to follow immediately after, will include the introduction of long-living masternode quorums (LLMQs) to enable a wide variety of advanced functionality to scale on the network, and ChainLocks (which leverage LLMQs), an innovation to secure Dash against 51% mining attacks, an increasingly real threat to cryptocurrencies. To support these developments, the Dash Core team released an exhaustive developer documentation portal, and earlier in 2018 released a series of demo videos on the Evolution platform, which has taken a concrete shape and is in its final stages.

In outside developments, the Dash chief architect Andy Freer left in order to start working on decentralized Dash applications, anticipating significant interest in leveraging Dash’s Evolution platform upon release. Dash Labs, run by Dash founder Evan Duffield, also released details on its first major project, the Data Collection Protocol, a system for decentralizing and monetizing the academic research and peer review process by using Dash. Arizona State University published a thorough scaling paper showing that Dash could easily scale to over half PayPal’s present transaction counts.

Micro treasury system DashBoost was developed and deployed in 2018, giving smaller projects an avenue to seek funding without interfering with Dash’s main funding mechanism for large and critical projects. MyDashWallet was also deployed, including a comprehensive web and mobile wallet with both InstantSend and PrivateSend features, seamless cross-platform tipping, and a blockchain chat feature. MyDashWallet also conducted the network-wide stress test.

Network

Despite significant cryptocurrency sell-offs during the bear market, the Dash masternode network has continued to grow. At the beginning of the year the network claimed about 4,680 masternodes, a number which has since increased to a present 4,877, adding nearly 200 nodes across the year. As mentioned above, MyDashWallet conducted a significant network-wide stress test, processing over 3 million transactions over a 24-hour period, passing Bitcoin Cash’s previous record of about 2.1 million. The network experienced no significant disruptions, performance issues, or heightened fees, showing that Dash can comfortably scale to support over ten times Bitcoin’s present user base without additional upgrades.

Publicly traded company Neptune Dash invested heavily in the Dash network, currently operating a reported 22 masternodes. Dash masternode pooling service CrowdNode, allowing anyone with 1 Dash to participate in fractional masternode ownership, has since scaled up to 13 total masternodes.

Infrastructure

The Dash Core team solidified its presence in 2018 hiring two new executives, a CFO and CTO, professionalizing the entity and allowing it to operate more efficiently. This was part of a wide staff expansion which saw the Core team become one of the largest cryptocurrency development teams. In advance of the Evolution release, the Core team filed defensive patents to prevent its innovations from falling victim to patent trolls attempting to prevent the new technology from being used by its own creators. The Dash Core team became an entity legally owned by the Dash DAO, giving it greater public accountability and direct control by the masternode network, creating one of the most decentralized structures in the world. Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor announced that elections would be held in March for trust protectors of the Dash DAO Irrevocable Trust, the legal entity controlled by the masternode network which owns Dash Core Group and other assets, creating a first-of-its-kind legal structure with maximum real-world decentralization.

The Dash Core team has also released a new overhauled user documentation portal, as well as a support portal, allowing users with questions about Dash itself to receive prompt answers, a rarity in the decentralized space. Before that, Dash merchant site DiscoverDash released a live chat feature, similarly allowing new users to reach a live support agent in real time.

Other News

In addition to these developments for the Dash network and its global adoption, several major victories were achieved in publicity and other areas. Dash usage as a currency was notably covered by CNN, a major coverage event by mainstream media. Dash presented before the Houses of Parliament for the Bahrain Opportunities Forum 2018. Independent news giant Ben Swann was sponsored by Dash, returning from a censorship-based early retirement with a viral video about Dash. MMA fighter Rory MacDonald won the Bellator welterweight world title while sponsored by Dash, prominently displaying Dash branding in scenes that have since been used in dozens of MMA highlight reels.

Medical Genomics leveraged the Dash blockchain to sequence the Jamaican Lion cannabis genome, leveraging Dash to prevent a proprietary takeover. BlockCypher and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory partnered to use Dash in cost-saving smart electricity meters, experimenting with allowing households to buy and sell excess electricity using Dash. Mining giant Bitmain released its holdings indicating a significant portion of Dash held. Fidelity revealed that held its maximum allowable stake in Dash masternode company Neptune Dash. Also, data from cryptocurrency brokerage service Uphold indicates that, in sharp contrast with those of all other supported coins, Dash users showed very high conviction in their chosen asset.

Finally, Dash released an updated logo, a choice arrived upon by decentralized consensus, with a community-driven choice winning out over the initial preference of the Core team. Dash also turned 4 years old, with a 5th anniversary right around the corner, a rare feat in longevity in top cryptocurrencies.