Depending on the economic and political landscape of the continent or country you're thinking of: there's a growing correlation between its/their political climate, with those that are more politically and economically vulnerable taking a more aggressive approach in repressing innovations like cryptocurrencies with NEO cryptocurrency being one.
If this turns out to be the case, then China is one of the places that you really don't want to be if you're a crypto trader. But even though the 'People's Republic' boasts some of the most extensive and, let's face it, repressive legal restrictions on crypto, we know of at least one kind of blockchain and digital asset that can make a breakout in that continent.
This, of course, would be referring to NEO. On a tenuous surface read of it, it has on thing going for it that allows this to be the case: it's designed in such a way as to be entirely regulation friendly compared to its decentralized (often western) counterparts.
But what is NEO? And why exactly has it gone from a fringe name to consistently among the top 10 blockchains and cryptos out there? Let's dig in.
NEO actually started off its life in 2014 as Antshares by its founders - Da Hongfei and Erik Zhan - and was initially put forward as the decentralized platform that would allow users to leverage its underlying blockchain, create their own unique digital currencies, as well as create and implement smart contract solutions.
These latter points really came to fruition with the re-branding and subsequent re-launch of Antshares as NEO. At the time, Hongfei and Zhan also put this blockchain forward as China's answer to Vitalik Buterin's Ethereum, which faced some major issues around scalability long-term, sharding, and their implications for companies looking to create dApps and launch smart contracts using Ethereum.
Much in the same way as Ethereum, the core development team behind NEO seeks to create an autonomous solution for digital assets within its ecosystem, while also establishing a distributed, network-based smart economy system that could link its partnered dApps and businesses together.
Interestingly enough, NEO represents one of two concepts spearheaded by Hongfei and Zhan and is more like its B2C project. The other places a greater focus on B2B as a private blockchain solutions for major businesses, and is known as OnChain.
OnChain, unlike NEO, serves as a solution for the creation of private or consortium blockchains which are purpose-built for specific industries. Each of these companies have separate funding, separate mission statements, but target very distinct areas of the same kind of market.
At this moment in time, NEO holds a number of offices in Asia, two of these being in China. So how is it that this team is able to not only operate within one of the most oppressive places in the world for cryptocurrencies while others, like Ethereum, cannot hope to gain a foothold?
At least one reason that comes to mind is the fact that its team has placed a special emphasis on being in meticulous compliance with regulatory agencies. In some cases, this has resulted in Hongfei and Zhan working in conjunction with Chines regulators to stamp out crypto exchanges.
It's because of this that NEO operates as a more centralized ecosystem in comparison to other blockchain ecosystems out there, allowing it to be more favourably looked at by Chinese authorities.
With this kind of ecosystem, surely it would be difficult to actually moderate a distributed network? In the case of Ethereum among others, this would be right. It's an additional feature referred to as its 'digital identity' system that allows this to be possible.
For individuals as well, these digital identities can be validated using some of the following methods:
What this identity system amounts to is that every individual, business or entity within the NEO platform has to have some unique identity that can easily be used to verify them.
So long as one of these organizations within the NEO network has this digital identity, it can complete transactions with any other entities on the platform. This allows NEO to provide a streamlined alternative to Ethereum that's also compliant with regulations.
Much like Ethereum with its Gwei and Ether being two kinds of currencies within its ecosystem, NEO has two as well. These being:
Currently, this is the active cryptocurrency associated with NEO blockchain, and is broadly traded on an increasing number of de/centralized exchanges. At the moment, NEO's cryptocurrency has been undergoing a downward slide, but hold a value of roughly $9.50.
There are 100 million of these tokens in existence, with 65 percent of these same tokens functioning as a circulating supply among its users. Ownership of these tokens provides the holder with some level of stake within the ecosystem as a whole. Which includes voting in NEO parameter changes, bookkeeping and more.
This almost operates as NEO's take on a dividend coin. And unlike NEO, there are significantly less of these in circulation, roughly one-tenth of the number of NEO (17 million vs 100 million) with 10 million being in movement as a circulating supply.
Within the first 12 years of NEO's operation, more than 80 percent of all GAS will be in circulation. Implying that there are more of these tokens being added in the near future. But kind of like the way gwei powers transactions in Ethereum, GAS in NEO serves as the 'fuel' for taking care of smart contracts and, generally getting things done.
Holders of GAS can actually use it in tandem with NEO as a way to prioritize their transactions above others in the ecosystem.