Decred (Decentralized Credit) is a digital currency that uses a community-based governance model to determine the future of its blockchain protocol. In other words, the people who own Decred and care about its future get to have a say in that future.
Decentralized governance makes Decred one of the most open progressive cryptocurrencies, and helps ensure that its community will stay united for years to come.
What Does Decred Do?
Decred was created and designed with the core mission of solving the problem of blockchain governance.
With Bitcoin, for example, determining the future of the currency is extremely challenging. What’s good for miners may not be good for developers or users, and vice versa. As there isn’t an efficient means of governance, issues like the block size debate can get contentious and even lead to hard forks when a consensus isn’t reached among the community. Now, rather than a united community all working to make Bitcoin the best it can be, we have Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, and so on.
Basically, Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency with a somewhat centralized and ineffective governance model. The creators of Decred witnessed Bitcoin’s governance issues first-hand while working as Bitcoin developers. Then they went back to the basics in order to design a cryptocurrency that kept the positive aspects of Bitcoin and fixed the governance model. That cryptocurrency is Decred.
Decred employs a unique hybrid of proof-of-work (PoW) and proof-of-stake (PoS) mining to decentralize the decision-making process. You can read more about this hybrid system in the Decred whitepaper.
What the system ultimately allows is for Decred owners (stakeholders) to vote on specific proposals or agendas for the Decred blockchain. That can include decisions such as whether or not the development team should work on a specific feature, whether or not to activate the code of an already developed feature, or even how to best spend the development subsidy. As a result, the community can come together to support the development of features for the future.
So far, this system of governance has worked exactly as designed. Stakeholders have voted for the protocol changes they want to see, and upgrades have been made efficiently with the support of the community. Consequently, features such as the Lightning Network will be implemented on Decred much sooner than they will for other cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin.
History of Decred
As alluded to earlier, Decred’s founders originally worked on Bitcoin, specifically the well-respected project called btcsuite.
The reasons for creating Decred were laid out in an enlightening blog post by Decred’s project organizer, Jake Yocom-Piatt. On the topic of Bitcoin’s governance issues, he wrote:
“Straightforward solutions for these problems do not fit well within Bitcoin since they involve making fundamental changes to incentive structures and consensus rules. Beyond the technical difficulties with making these changes, based on how vehemently groups within BC disagree on even simple changes like increasing the maximum block size, it is practically assured that any proposed solutions to these problems will not be implemented for one political reason or another. As such, the only reasonable way to make real progress on these challenges is to create an altcoin that implements the proposed solutions.”
Political partisanship remains a significant problem for Bitcoin, and one without an obvious solution. Since that post was published in 2015, Yocom-Piatt’s words have been validated several times over.
Decred’s development team followed through on their plans to implement their solutions on an altcoin; Decred was created in December 2015, and the Decred mainnet launched in February of the following year, accompanied by the Decred Constitution.
The Decred Team
As mentioned above, the project organizer of Decred is Jake Yocom-Piatt. He is a cryptocurrency pioneer and expert in open-source software, as well as the author of project updates on the Decred blog. Perhaps the most important contribution Yocom-Piatt makes now is everything that he does to bring the Decred team and community together through open and simple communication.
There are also several developers who work on Decred, most notable of which is the lead developer, Dave Collins, who worked with Yocom-Piatt as a Bitcoin developer prior to the founding of Decred.
Considering that Decred is a self-governing cryptocurrency, the Decred team isn’t complete without its communities on reddit, Discord, Telegram, and other social media platforms. All are welcome to join the community, and all who do will have the chance to make a meaningful contribution to it.
If this article is the first you’re hearing of Decred, you are certainly not alone. Despite having the 27th largest crypto market cap, Decred is a bit of an anomaly right now in the cryptocurrency space because there is very little hype surrounding it.
Decred’s primary focus is on development and sound engineering, and they have been very successful on those fronts. However, the main challenge for the project going forward will be garnering more adoption and growing the community.
It’s refreshing to be engaged with a cryptocurrency community that is more focused on the quality of their technology than marketing it to drive the price up. That being said, Decred’s time with the only superior governance model won’t last forever. Ethereum, for example, will be implementing a similar PoS governance system called Casper soon.
Of course, there is room for Decred and other self-governing cryptocurrencies to coexist, but it seems more likely that one or two will dominate the majority of the market cap. Hopefully, the word about Decred spreads quickly and the coin remains relevant for a long time to come.
How to Purchase and Store Decred
The two major exchanges that support Decred are Poloniex and Bittrex, so it is easiest to buy from there.
Once you own Decred, storing it is really simple. You can view the available wallets and download them here. The Webwallet is the easiest to get started with, as it’s browser-based, but you can also download the Decrediton wallet for macOS, Linux, or Windows.
At the same link, you’ll also find software downloads if you want to mine Decred using GPUs.
So far, 2017 has been a very good year for Decred, with prices soaring from less than $0.50 at the beginning of the year to over $50.00 now.
Decred is a cryptocurrency purist’s dream. The key to its future success will be spreading the word far and wide that the dream is already real, and that all are welcome to join in it.
Let’s not forget that the decred developers also created the atomic swap code that is being used by other crypto-coins… All open-source.
One of my colleagues just posted an article about it: https://www.investinblockchain.com/why-atomic-swap-matters/