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Dash’s 12.2 update has been released, increasing the block size and lowering default fees, as Bitcoin’s Segwit2x block size increase is called off.

Among a variety of minor changes to improve the network, the update also includes several changes to allow Dash to continue to be used as an efficient payment system long-term, including a growth of users. Dash Core announced the upgrade on the 7th of November, with a call to update software to enact the change:

According to Dash Core’s CEO Ryan Taylor, this is intended to help maintain Dash’s usefulness as a payment system:

“As a payments-focused network, we strongly believe that maintaining low transaction fees is a prerequisite to developing a healthy network over the long term. High transaction fees affect both consumers and merchants looking to spend the incoming funds. The users of several other networks have experienced firsthand the impact that high fees can have on their daily lives, as many low value transactions such as pre-paid phone top-ups or gift card purchases are priced out of the market. 12.2 reinforces the Dash Core Group’s commitment to maintaining a network that is fast, high-capacity, secure, inexpensive, and easy to integrate and use. Most importantly, with this release Dash is demonstrating our roadmap to scale digital currency is actively working, while keeping costs low for our users. Dash is silently becoming the network Bitcoin once promised to be.”

Dash’s block size increased to 2mb, fees lowered 10x, PrivateSend improved

The 12.2 update includes a myriad of changes and improvements, though key among them are several important advances related to scaling and usability. First is a two-megabyte block size increase doubling current on-chain capacity. With a 2.5 minute block interval, this is the equivalent of an 8mb block size for a coin like Bitcoin with a 10-minute block interval (Bitcoin has a 1mb block size while Bitcoin Cash’s is 8mb). This means that without any further upgrades Dash could support network traffic eight times that of Bitcoin’s present usage before running into problems, and Dash has a long-term scaling plan to grow the network capacity far larger to include blocks 400mb in size and beyond.

Second is a tenfold fee decrease. Previously, Dash enjoyed some of the lowest fees of the top cryptocurrencies, with a median fee of about 3 cents at present values. Now, the base fee of 0.0001 Dash for regular transactions and 0.001 for InstantSend are being reduced to 0.00001 and 0.0001, respectively. This will keep small transactions affordable even as the market value of Dash, and its network use, increase. Finally, several improvements have been made to PrivateSend private transactions, allowing balances to be mixed and anonymized more efficiently.

Dash scales and improves usability as Bitcoin’s attempted scaling measure fails

At the same time, Bitcoin has recently faced slimmer chances at a short-term scaling improvement. The Segwit2x update, signed by representatives of a high portion of the network’s hashpower and meant to solve the scaling impasse by agreeing to both a 2mb block size increase and the activation of Segregated Witness (Segwit), succeeded in short order in activating Segwit to appease one side of the scaling debate. However, while attempting to implement the block size increase, the agreement faced fierce opposition. As a result, the main driving actors behind the update called it off this week, meaning that for the foreseeable future Bitcoin will retain its 1mb block size.

Dash, meanwhile, called a network-wide vote of masternodes as to whether or not the block size should be increased in early 2016 when the issue was a hot topic of discussion in the cryptoverse. The network overwhelmingly voted for an increase when the appropriate time arrived, and nearly two years later, as the first stages of the Evolution platform loom on the horizon, the block size increase has been implemented, long before any scaling issues could materialize. According to Taylor, this is consistent with a long-term strategy of anticipating scaling problems before they occur:

““Scaling solutions take time to develop, test, and deploy. In the digital currency space, transaction volumes can grow quickly, so we believe it is critical to stay well ahead of anticipated demand. We are actively exploring a number of use cases with partners that would consume a high volume of transactions, so it is important to demonstrate to the market our commitment to scaling our network to meet their needs. Beyond our own network’s growth, there is a real possibility that Bitcoin’s own exponential growth could spill over into other networks. If this were to occur, our network could experience a sudden and dramatic increase in demand. For these reasons, it is prudent to continue adding capacity ahead of the need, rather than reacting to a problem after it occurs.”