In June of 2015, the cryptocurrency Dash had approximately 2,500 nodes. The network then rolled out a new user role which they call the “masternode,” and began paying masternodes half of the block reward (same as the miners). In the last four months, the Dash network has added almost 1,000 nodes, increasing its count by 40% for a total today of over 3300.
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Dash’s 3300 masternodes are tasked with more than hosting its blockchain. They also perform two of Dash’s key functions, namely DarkSend (a native coinjoin) and InstantX (instant transaction confirmations). They also must provide a collateral of 1000 Dash – worth about $2,500 USD — that is locked for the amount of time they act as masternodes. Currently masternodes earn an average of 0.47 Dash per day — $1.25 USD at today’s price.
Lead developer and creator of the masternode scheme Evan Duffield implemented the collateral requirement for two reasons: first, to attempt to stabilize the Dash price by disincentivizing short sells; and second, to make a “51% attack” cost-prohibitive for a malicious actor.
Bitcoin.com spoke with Duffield to learn more about the results of Dash’s masternode implementation.
Bitcoin.com (BC): What gave you the idea to create Masternodes?
Evan Duffield (ED): Early on in the history of Dash I was trying to figure out a way to implement a decentralized mixer in a peer-to-peer network and thought of adding a second tier. The idea was that nodes within this second network could host sessions to improve the privacy of the blockchain.
BC: What other options crossed your mind as possible incentive structures for nodes?
ED: I thought about a fee structure for the mixer, where users would pay the nodes they mixed on. This would have worked for the mixer, but we wouldn’t have created an infrastructure with thousands of nodes to utilize for other network services as well.
BC: Dash is the only PoW coin incentivizing nodes, I believe. Are any PoS coins incentivizing nodes, or does the problem not cross over into the PoS realm?
ED: The incentive problem for infrastructure applies to all cryptographic coins. Either a centralized company must provide the infrastructure (e.g. Ripple) or the infrastructure is voluntarily run by community members. The first solution is obviously centralized and the later will eventually fail under its own weight as the network begins to gain traction.
BC: What was the general reaction from Dash’s miners about the implementation of masternodes?
ED: From what I have heard, the miners are supportive of the idea of masternodes. They would rather make less money and have a healthy ecosystem and stable foundation for growth.
Dash’s market cap is only US$15 million – less than 0.5% of Bitcoin’s US$4.7 billion. But Dash runs more than 60 % as many nodes as Bitcoin, which is running on 5300 to date.
Duffield and the rest of the Dash team are currently preparing to roll out what they’re calling the “world’s first DAPI”: a Decentralized Application Programming Interface. They hope the DAPI will be useful to companies and developers who want to have full access to Dash’s blockchain data without having to run a node themselves.
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