The cryptocurrencies that promised to kill Bitcoin die sooner

Years ago, when I was starting out in the Bitcoin ecosystem, it was normal to hear things like “the new Bitcoin”. Protocols and cryptocurrencies that offered advantages over which Bitcoin was supposedly incapable of achieving: instant transactions and privacy, for example. I cannot deny that some did, but at what cost?

These networks offered “something better than Bitcoin”, so to speak. While they weren’t necessarily being sold as better than Bitcoin, they were advertised as an option to use instead of Bitcoin. Dash was one of them. In Venezuela, Dash quickly became popular as a payment option, low commissions, fast confirmations, everything was great. But recently something happened that left us seeing a gap: the network stopped for more than 14 hours, without mining a single block, due to an update error.

First I want to clarify that Dash was not sold as a “bitcoin killer” as if it happened with Solana against Ethereum. However, I do mean that these were leveraged by the fact that the network has a limited capacity to process one block every 10 minuteswith a maximum capacity of 7 transactions per second (TPS), offering an average of 46 TPS.

Decentralization, security and scalability: the trilemma of blockchains.

Bitcoin has its shortcomings, it is a reality. Processing 7 TPS against the average 1,700 VISA TPS may seem quite bad. However, Bitcoin has some strengths that make its weaknesses look very small when compared. Also, Bitcoin has second layer solutions to fill these gaps. For example, the Lightning network.

Vitalik Buterin, co-creator of Ethereum, coined a term known as “the blockchain trilemma”. This problem defines that a cryptocurrency network has 3 growth points: decentralization, scalability, and security. However, the trilemma defines that networks can only have 2 of these 3.

Bitcoin is the most secure cryptocurrency network on the planet. Each transaction that is confirmed in Bitcoin is reflected in a network protected by approximately TH350,000,000/s, being these the mining capacity contributed by all the miners at present. No network comes close, not even at 5% of the total hashrate.

Attack cost table of 51% per hour. Source:

According to the Crypto 51 table, attacking Bitcoin, renting hashrate through the NiceHash portal, It costs $1 million an hour. Dash, for example, costs $1,200, a significant difference. In addition, it should be noted that this cost is estimated, if the demand for Bitcoin hashrate increases excessively, its price will skyrocket, so this price is only an estimate.

In addition to this, Bitcoin is the network that offers the greatest decentralization in the world, thanks to the number of nodes spread throughout the planet. Some data shows that Bitcoin has about 17 thousand nodes. No network has more. However, this number reflects the number of public nodes, other estimates, reported by CriptoNoticias, indicate that there are more than 300,000 nodes.

bitcoin nodes.
The main Bitcoin node software is the one developed by Bitcoin Core. Source:

Since Bitcoin offers these two great strengths (decentralization and security), based on the trilemma, It has deficiencies in the matter of scalability. However, second layer solutions such as the Lightning network offer improvements in terms of being able to exchange BTC with instant payments and with very low commissions.

Therefore, when a network offers improvements “that bitcoin does not have”, you always have to see what you are sacrificing.

What happened to Dash would never happen to Bitcoin

Dash’s bug was caused by a bad update on their Dash Core nodes in their version 19.0. The update made each new block that was validated was indexed as wrong, so the network couldn’t add new blocksbeing the solution to launch a new update of the Dash Core.

These types of errors are sometimes the product of bad software audits. Dash was not the first, in August 2022, a stablecoin lost all its peg against the dollar, due to an update error made it possible to issue coins infinitelycosting less than 1 cent due to the oversupply for the issuance of new coins.

These types of scenarios are not possible in Bitcoin. However, Bitcoin is not without errors in its software. Even so, making a change in the source code requires a very high audit process. If there is even a small error, the update is rejected. Developers spend whole days auditing the Bitcoin code.

Additionally, Bitcoin has a feature called “backwards compatibility”. Currently, Bitcoin Core nodes run version 24.0. However, in the event that the version 25.0 update causes some kind of network error, users can still run version 24, or even much older versions, without any problem. The only limitation is that it will not be possible to use the updates included in version 25, but the network will continue to function normally. That is, you should not wait for a new update for Bitcoin to continue operating.

The situation with Dash demonstrated, albeit somewhat unfortunately, just how good Bitcoin is. The fastest solution is not always the best. Dash was not abitcoin killer”, but others did promote themselves as such, announcing improvements that Bitcoin did not bring, and that, in the end, they ended up falling by the wayside, while Bitcoin continued on its way.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong to its author and do not necessarily reflect those of CriptoNoticias.


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