NEO, formerly known as Antshares, was one of the best performing coins in 2017 and looks to continue that momentum through 2018. NEO is a platform, sometimes dubbed as “China’s Ethereum”, where users can trade assets and develop smart contracts to power “a smart economy” for China. This smart economy will enable the trustless transfer and implementation of tokenized assets and smart contracts. Onchain is a Chinese blockchain R&D company that serves as the parent entity to NEO. Both NEO and Onchain have stated several times that they are compliant with the Chinese government and will continue to work with them to prevent any type of shutdown in the event of increased regulation.
NEO has several great features which make it an attractive coin in the cryptocurrency space. A NEO token represents partial ownership of the NEO blockchain, similar to a traditional equity security. This allows token-holders to vote on protocol changes, while utilizing their dBFT algorithm to ensure that no sinister actors ruin the integrity of the blockchain. However, where coins like Ethereum use the Ether token as both ownership and fuel to make transactions on the blockchain, NEO solves this double-spend problem by issuing GAS. GAS is essentially a dividend of the NEO token, which can be accumulated storing NEO in one of their official wallets (found on their website). People will use GAS to actually make transactions. NEO is one of the only cryptocurrencies to offer a dividend, and the generation of passive income should not be overlooked.
Another huge advantage of NEO are their smart contracts. Da Hongfei (the founder) refers to them as “Smart Contracts 2.0” and these contracts can be written in a variety of coding languages. These languages include .NET, Java, and others like Python and JS that are being tested now. The NEO developer community is extremely active, and they are constantly pushing the envelope with integration and lowering the barriers to entry to develop on the platform. City of Zion is the open-source global NEO dev community that has helped the coin grow and offers resources such as a desktop wallet. They also help market the coin to Western audiences.
While NEO is a solid project overall, there are some small disadvantages. Communication with the NEO team to investors has lacked at times, and they were notably silent for days when China announced additional crypto regulations in September 2017. There was also an issue over the wording of an announcement in which people speculated that NEO was officially partnering with Microsoft. Since then, however, the NEO team has acknowledged that their communication hasn’t been clear enough and that they are adapting to a more Western-style of investor relations. Another potential problem for NEO is that 50 percent of all coins are reserved for the team to develop the product. On the surface, this isn’t an issue as NEO has a transparent and communicative team that works hand-in-hand with open-source projects such as City of Zion. However, 50 million coins being reserved for the team may strike some as self-serving and greedy. There have been no issues thus far, but this is something to keep an eye on as the coin grows.
Since NEO is a platform, they obviously allow for ICOs on their platform. While this was called into question during the China ICO-Ban in September 2017, NEO has maintained that they properly vet all ICOs that are taking place on their platform. Since the launch, there are 31 ICOs that have either launched or are planning to be launched. If this growth sustains, NEO will continue to grow as their network becomes more active. Some popular ICOs that have launched via NEO are Deep Brain Chain (DBC) and Red Pulse (RPX). If you are getting involved in NEO, be sure to check those out to gain a further understanding of the ecosystem that NEO is creating.