There is no fork, but there is NEO: The Ethereum of China
When people hear about smart contracts, they often think about Ethereum. However, Ethereum is not the only blockchain platform that allows users to run smart contracts and create decentralized applications (DApps).
NEO is one of these platforms that features an interesting concept of achieving a smart economy on the blockchain.
What Is NEO?
Formerly known as AntShares, NEO is a China-based blockchain platform capable of running smart contracts and deploying DApps. As part of a non-profit project, NEO functions as an open blockchain network to achieve a smart economy.
Neo’s vision of a smart economy is based on digital assets, digital identity, and smart contracts. For digital assets, NEO uses two cryptocurrencies: NEO and GAS. In future, the project also aims to enable the development of native digital assets, including tokenized traditional assets.
While holding NEO empowers users with governance rights (e.g., voting on network proposals), GAS is utilized for network actions, such as deploying a smart contract.
NEO and GAS function very similarly to the Ethereum network's ETH. The main difference here is that the NEO blockchain uses different coins for governance and network actions, while Ethereum uses only one digital asset (ETH).
For digital identity, NEO used to operate the X.509 Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) standard. Now, however, the project has dropped this standard and is developing NEOID instead. What's special about Neo's approach is that users are able to confirm their identity using biometrics (fingerprints, facial recognition, voice etc). It's goal is to make the Internet more user-centric.
NEO's final element that helps it achieve a smart economy is the smart contract, referring to computer code that automatically executes itself when pre-determined conditions are met between two or more parties.
Unlike Ethereum that uses a separate language (Solidity) to program smart contracts and with the goal to reduce the number of bugs, NEO allows developers to utilize popular programming languages (e.g., C# and Java).
Another difference between NEO and Ethereum is the level of scalability.
While Ethereum can scale up to 20 transactions per second (TPS), NEO's transactions throughput is around 1,000 TPS, with the potential to reach 10,000 TPS with proper optimization.
How Has NEO Performed as a Crypto Asset?
As the 20th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, NEO has generated an excellent ROI for the project's investors.
After receiving $5 million in contributions during the project's token sale in September 2016, NEO's price went on a downtrend, falling from $0.55 to $0.13 by March 15, 2017.
However, in April 2017, NEO entered into a bull run, appreciating from $0.17 to $10.19 by June 20.
After a minor period of correction, NEO's value started to surge again to $48.11 by mid-August.
During the peak of the crypto bull market in December, the digital asset's price was uptrending again, ending the year at $72.40, representing an increase of over 48,000% in 2017.
However, due to bear market conditions, NEO couldn't maintain that price level, resulting in a drop to $8.12 by the end of 2018.
Apart from some minor trends, NEO's price remained stable in 2019, with the cryptocurrency trading at $9.02 on December 31, 2019.
Starting 2020 with a value of $8.79, NEO's price quickly increased to $16 by February 15. However, March's stock market flash crash drove down the cryptocurrency's price to $6 (March 13).
NEO quickly recovered and reached $12.61 by June 2 before entering into a correction. At the time of writing this article, NEO trades at $10.14.
NEO in the News
NEO has recently been featured in the news for the project's work on promoting blockchain technology and digital assets.
In April, the cryptocurrency project established a partnership with the University of Zurich to promote blockchain technology and its different use-cases across Europe.
Last month, NEO became one of the five sponsors – among big names in tech, such as Microsoft, IBM, Nasdaq, and Accenture – of the InterWork Alliance, a non-profit organization with the goal to accelerate blockchain innovation.
While its release date is not fixed yet, the cryptocurrency project is expected to launch the mainnet of a new blockchain network (NEO 3.0) later this year.
According to the project's team, the NEO 3.0 upgrade will significantly increase the network's speed and stability while getting it ready for large-scale enterprise use.
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