Antshares is rebranding on July 24th. Part of their rebranding efforts consist of renaming the coin from Antshares to NEO. I’ll be referring to Antshares/NEO as NEO in this article.
NEO is an open source cryptocurrency being developed by Onchain, a company based in Shanghai. One of only a few cryptocurrencies that support smart contracts, many refer to NEO as the “Chinese Ethereum” (kinda sounds like an exotic drug). NEO started development in 2014, a year before Ethereum was announced in 2015.
NEO has solid fundamentals. It’s technology is significantly better than Ethereum’s and like Ethereum, it enjoys strong corporate and government support. NEO is strikingly absent from Western markets while adoption in China is strong. Although Onchain seems to be reluctant to pursue Western markets at the moment, its upcoming rebranding event will probably change that. As of right now there is a lack of English marketing materials for NEO.
The only exchange in North America that trades NEO is Bittrex. Since NEO is still called Antshares, it’s trading with the ticker symbol ANS. At the time of writing, it’s trading at $7.34 per coin.
I believe NEO is a “sleeper” crpytocurrency, especially in the West, and it has significant potential. Here’re some reasons why.
Focused leadership, ambitious goals, and ample capital
NEO’s mission, from it’s whitepaper, is this:
The mission of the Antshares is about digital assets for everyone. Bitcoin wants to create a financial system parallel to the existing ones, whereas Antshares is about building a financial system bridging the real-world assets. Meanwhile, Antshares is designed for the great majority of Internet users, not just for Libertarians, geeks and developers. To reach this goal, Antshares takes a very different underlying design.
By the way, I highly recommend reading the NEO whitepaper. It’s an interesting and very informative read.
Back to NEO’s mission. What I can see here is that NEO’s mission is very ambitious. Whereas most digital currencies aim to be a parallel financial system, NEO wants to bridge real-world assets with the blockchain. In other words, it wants to use the integrity and security of the blockchain to facilitate safe and fair trading of real world assets via smart contracts.
While you can argue that Ethereum can technically do this as well but Ethereum’s community leaders have not explicitly pushed for such a goal. In fact, the Ethereum Foundation states that their mission is to promote R&D (research and development) such that a “new generation [of] decentralized applications (dapps)” can be built so that the Internet can be “more globally accessible, more free, and more trustworthy”. In other words, Ethereum’s mission seems to be to probe in the dark for some unrealized application of dapps, and through the emergence of useful dapps, create a more free and trustworthy Internet.
I would argue that NEO’s mission is much more focused and realizable. Whereas Ethereum seems to be trying to promote as many ICOs as possible (since ICOs explore new applications of dapps), NEO is racing ahead to build a digital currency platform where real-world assets can be traded securely and fairly.
To this end, NEO’s leadership team has been aggressively pushing for corporate partnerships and government support and have been quite successful at it, mind you. One thing that find really promising is NEO’s emphasis on a collaboration with central authorities.
Some people might balk at this idea. Blockchain is about decentralization right and we should hate anything centralized. True, but in the short term the centralized authorities are the ones that bring legitimacy to a cryptocurrency. With legitimacy comes increased adoption.
Finally, Onchain has ample capital to support the development of NEO. According to Cryptobud in his NEO analysis, Onchain has $325 million in funding.
Government approval (previous heading: Government support)
Many have pointed out to me it’s not exactly government support, but tacit government approval. I’ve changed the heading.
One of the most bullish indicators for NEO is that it has effectively received the Chinese government’s endorsement, something crucial for every Chinese start-up to grow.
Like I previously mentioned, Da Hongfei is not looking to be a economic renegade. Instead, he’s appealing to the government in order to legitimize NEO, thus pushing it towards mainstream adoption. So far, he’s been quite successful. In line with NEO’s mission, NEO is currently collaborating with certificate authorities in China to map real-world assets using smart contracts.
We all know how the Chinese government tends to support its homegrown companies and technologies and it’ll be no different for NEO. Expect the Chinese government to prioritize NEO adoption over Ethereum.
NEO has partnerships with companies such as Alibaba, Microsoft, and WINGS.
NEO’s partnership with Alibaba is related to Ali Cloud. Here’s what Silicon Angle describes the partnership like so: “[NEO’s] partnership with Ali Cloud provides an enterprise-level use of blockchain technology to secure something that corporate offices engage in constantly: communication. Blockchains can be used to provide secured, auditable trails for communication, activities and transactions. Securing important emails could only be the tip of the iceberg for the Onchain and Ali Cloud partnership.”.
NEO’s partnership with Microsoft is related to R&D. One project they’re working on involves building a “blockchain-powered digital legal evidence repository”.
WINGS is a DAO-like organization in Europe. It’s has an R&D partnership with NEO, with added focus of bridging Western cryptocurrency communities with the Chinese cryptocurrency community.
Top-notch development team and sophisticated technology
Many people, particularly in the sinosphere, have claimed that Onchain has one of the best cryptocurrency development teams in China. It’s very hard to verify this claim but with $345 million in funds they definitely could hire very talented engineers. Regardless if these claims are true, Onchain has an impressive CTO and this can be seen through the presentations he has given and the articles he has written.
Consider the June 22nd NEO conference held in Microsoft Beijing’s headquarters where Erik Zhang, Onchain’s CTO, gave an in-depth presentation on smart contracts. Zhang demonstrated a strong grasp of blockchain technology and smart contracts and provided a comprehensive comparison between Ethereum’s and NEO’s smart contract systems. He even dove into code for a sample domain buying service powered by NEO’s smart contract system. If a competent and knowledgeable CTO is a good signal for a company’s engineering caliber, then the claims of an amazing development team might not be too far off.
Don’t let hearsay sway your opinion and decision making though. Let the NEO development team’s results speak for themselves. Here’re some existing and up-and-coming features of NEO that I’ve found fascinating:
- NEO is quantum proof. There have been concerns that Bitcoin’s security can be broken through quantum computing and NEO seems to have solved this issue. NOTE: possibly not released yet, need a source for this
- You will be able to use most popular programming languages to program NEO’s smart contracts. Unlike Ethereum, which currently only supports Solidity as a smart contract programming language, NEO will allow for most popular programming languages to be used. This greatly lowers the learning curve to use smart contracts and will drive developer adoption. Onchain dubs this initiative as “Smart Contract 2.0” and is planning to release it in Q3 2017.
- NEO has implemented sharding and concurrency to solve its scaling issues. Although sharding and concurrency has been proposed and is actively being worked on for Ethereum, NEO is one step ahead and has already implemented this technology. Source
NEO has proof-of-stake
The two tradeable assets on the NEO network are NEO shares and NEO coins. Owning NEO shares gives you partial ownership of the blockchain which allows you to vote on blockchain governance matters. NEO coins, on the other hard, are what powers the blockchain. They’re needed for things like issuing transactions and running smart contracts. There is an infinite supply of NEO coins but the coins are also constantly being destroyed as the blockchain chugs along.
Owning NEO shares will not only allow you to influence the future of NEO, the blockchain also pays NEO coins as dividends. As a good heuristic, 1000 NEO shares generates approximately 0.4 NEO coins daily. Dividends are paid out for owning any positive number of NEO shares.
Proof-of-stake incentivizes NEO share owners to hold on to their stakes instead of participating in speculation. This reduces price volatility and is a crucial prerequisite for mainstream adoption of NEO.
Binance cryptocurrency exchange partnership
Binance is a new cryptocurrency exchange platform in China created by the CTO of one of China’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, OKCoin. It aims to be the Coinbase/GDAX of China and only aims to serve high quality coins. Guess what coins are currently served by Binance? Bitcoin, Ethereum, and NEO. This is a great signal of confidence for NEO in China.
A contentious issue with Ethereum is that the supply of Ether currently grows infinitely. This means that inflation, a crucial problem with fiat, will always plague Ethereum. A key reason people have adopted cryptocurrencies is the immunity to inflation that coins with a hard supply cap provides.
NEO, unlike Ethereum, also has a hard cap on supply. There will be at most 100 million NEO shares in circulation and its estimated it will take approximately 22 years to mine all 100 million NEO shares.
With a hard cap, you can be sure that your NEO coin will either maintain or appreciate in value as long as adoption does not decline.
Everything I’ve said above is related to NEO’s long term prospects but what about the short term? Well I’m also bullish on NEO’s short term. As I’ve mentioned, it’s still currently known as Antshares and will be rebranded on July 24th, a few days from now. The rebranding will introduce a new name, an upgrade to existing client software, and perhaps most importantly, a stronger drive for Western marketing.