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What is NEO and How it Grows?

Alex Lielacher
Last updated: | 4 min read

In the past twelve months, China-based smart contract platform NEO has moved into the forefront of the cryptocurrency industry when the market capitalization of its token rose into the billions. It lead the platform to become one of the most valuable blockchain projects in the market. Some experts are even hailing it as the “Ethereum killer” or refer to it as the “Ethereum of China”.

The NEO team at the project’s rebranding event in 2017. Source: Twitter

So, what is all about?

A Short History

NEO is a rebrand of an older blockchain project called Antshares. Antshares was started in 2014 but was unable to gain substantial traction. In 2017, the project changes its name to NEO and began to focus on smart contract functionalities as a way to optimize asset management within the context of decentralized ledger technology.

Describing itself as “a distributed network for the Smart Economy”, the platform involves a number of functionalities that are designed to create a digital identity that is able to enter effectively function within its ecosystem. This concept is explained in the whitepaper: “On the NEO blockchain, users are able to register, trade, and circulate multiple types of assets. Proving the connection between digital and physical assets is possible through digital identity. Assets registered through a validated digital identity are protected by law.”

NEO is working to ensure that the identities on its platform are up to the generally accepted standard on the Internet. This should help protect the legal claims these identities have over all the transactions performed within the platform. Moreover, the platform employs a number of authentication methods to further enhance user security: “Our verification of identity when issuing or using digital identities includes the use of facial features, fingerprint, voice, SMS and other multi-factor authentication methods.”

While the proprietary smart contract functionality called NeoContract allows users to execute their own smart contacts, developers are also able to build their own decentralized applications on the platform. This has been a driving force for the growth of the platform by encouraging new projects to choose the platform.

Moreover, its developers claim it is able to support 10,000 transactions per second.

Lastly, the platform supports a number of programming languages. It makes it easier for developers to create on the platform as they do not have to contend with a steep learning curve.

NEO price chart


Projects on NEO

The platform has hosted a number of projects and their initial coin offerings (ICOs). For instance, the world’s first decentralized mobile network held its token sale on the NEO platform. The project is called Qlink and held its crowd sale on December 22, 2017. The sale was completed in six minutes and raised around 10,000 NEO for the startup.

Another notable NEO-based project is Narrative. It describes itself as “a self-sustaining content network where members are in charge, users get paid, and the world’s best content, on every subject imaginable, is easy to find.” The developers of the project caused quite a stir within the crypto community when they announced they would be moving both their platform and ICO to the NEO platform. They had initially planned to use the Ethereum platform as the backbone of their ecosystem.

The NEO platform currently hosts over 40 DApps (decentralized applications) on its blockchain. The projects are wide-ranging, from dealing with big data and artificial intelligence to tourism and games as well as lotteries.

Also, in May, NEO Foundation and Ontology Foundation, a distributed trust network that focuses on digital identity and data exchange, signed Memorandum of Understanding in order to cooperate in building a smart contract ecosystem, among other goals.

A Decentralized Exchange

The first decentralized exchange on the NEO platform launched on March 31. The DEX is named Switcheo and supports the trading of NEP-5 standard tokens. The exchange allows users to trade using NEO and GAS, NEO’s alternate token.

The Switcheo decentralized exchange is important within the NEO platform as it allows tokens that are built on top of the platform to trade before they are listed on other exchanges. For many crypto projects, trading is a challenge in the initial stages because it takes a while for them to be listed on large exchanges. Switcheo aims to fix this problem for NEP-5 tokens, which should help to empower the NEO platforms and projects built on top of it.

The exchange’s dynamic call-function allows all NEP-5 tokens to be tradeable as soon as the ICO ends. While this provides obvious advantages to the project, it is also a desirable feature for users who would like to offload their tokens after the token sale.

While opinions within the cryptocurrency community vary on whether the NEO platform is as good as or better than Ethereum, the ‘Smart Economy’ platform continues to make waves and is trying to position itself as a leader in the blockchain industry.

NEO did not respond to requests for comment for this story.