What is NEO?

A Chinese Cryptocurrency:
NEO has captured the attention of the cryptocurrency community after seeing explosive growth of 700% since the beginning of August. Formerly known as Antshares, NEO has been called the “Ethereum of China.” The project aims to usher in a new Smart Economy by offering a suite of financial technologies that will change the way the world views commerce. Users can create and manage their own digital assets, create legal protections for those assets through digital certificates, and control the distribution of assets using smart contracts.

Founded by Onchain CEO Hongfei Da and core developer Erik Zhang in June 2014, NEO made their project open-source in June 2015 and released the white paper in September of the same year. NEO raised $556k in their initial ICO in November 2015 and $4.5 million in a second ICO from August to September 2016. Development has been supported by Onchain, a Shanghai-based blockchain company founded in 2014 to provide marketing and consulting for NEO.

NEO's New Technology
NEO has two native tokens: NEO (NEO) and NeoGas (GAS). The 100 million NEO tokens in existence give holders voting rights on changes to the parameter of the network, bookkeeping, and other topics of governance. Half of the NEO tokens have been distributed in crowdsales and half have been kept to support the development of NEO. 10 million tokens went to early contributors, 17.5 million in the first ICO, and 22.5 million in the second ICO. 100 million GAS will be generated to control the operation and storage of tokens and smart contracts on the NEO network. GAS will be proportionally distributed to NEO holders with 80% of GAS created in the first twelve years.

The NEO platform recognizes two different kinds of digital assets: global assets and contract assets. Transactions with global assets get recorded on the system and can be publicly used with other smart contracts and clients. Contract asset transactions get recorded in private storage on a smart contract and  require a compatible client for use.

In the future, NEO plans to integrate a system for digital identification that will allow users to maintain and verify identities on NEO and projects using the NEO blockchain. Decentralized applications proposed on the platform include social networking, automated token liquidity providers, AI-assisted smart contracts, secure communication, decentralized exchange, and markets for data, intellectual property, predictions, hashpower, advertising, and NeoGas.

What Makes NEO Unique?
Other platforms combine digital assets, smart contracts, and digital identities; NEO stands out due to its association with the Chinese government, its use of existing programming languages, and its potential for scalability. Chinese traders make up the vast majority of cryptocurrency trading and investment so receiving the endorsement of the Chinese government places NEO in the eye of the storm.

Being the first public blockchain project endorsed by the Chinese government makes NEO important for several reasons: the yuan hit an eight-year low against the dollar towards the end of last year but individuals in China can't legally transfer more than $50,000 worth of yuan into a foreign currency in a given year and any person or business attempting to move more than $5 million out of the country has to be checked by a regulatory agency, so support for a project whose technology can potentially disrupt the government's ability to regulate currency represents a surprising step forward.

Instead of having to learn a new programming language like Solidity, the language used to develop smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, users can program their smart contracts using C#, Java, or other mainstream programming languages. It is the first public platform for smart contract management developed in China and the first public Chinese blockchain project to work with the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform and Linux's open-source blockchain architecture Hyperledger.

Ethereum has been the most popular smart contract platform thus far but a steady stream of ICO's have led many to question whether or not the Ethereum blockchain will be able to scale fast enough to accommodate the rapidly-growing ecosystem of blockchain applications. NEO has not directly addressed scaling as an issue but their use of mainstream programming languages and high-level partnerships put them in an advantageous position once competition between smart contract platforms begins to heat up.

Whether the price continues to skyrocket or experiences a bearish correction, the future of smart contract platforms will ultimately be determined by the platform that does the best job of scaling and integrating other blockchain applications. To that end, NEO has a bright future as a cornerstone of the development of blockchain technology in China.



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