Neo (NEO) is an open-source, blockchain-based network that allows developers to create digital assets and smart contracts. The blockchain, which was founded in 2014, was initially called Antshares (ANS), but switched its name to Neo in 2017.
During its early years, the platform was often touted as a potential “Chinese Ethereum killer,” but the project has so far failed to surpass Ethereum, the platform that produces ether, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market value after bitcoin.
The Neo blockchain has two native tokens for its ecosystem: GAS and NEO. The GAS token is used to represent the right to use the Neo blockchain, and its NEO token represents the right to manage the blockchain.
NEO token holders can participate in both on-chain and off-chain governance structures. For on-chain governance, holders can use their NEO to vote on network protocol upgrades and receive GAS as an incentive for participating. Off-chain governance decisions can be voiced to the Neo Council. The council is responsible for making strategic and technical decisions and for implementing changes.
As outlined in the project’s white paper, the total supply of NEO was minted at the first block and capped at 100 million. Neo held an initial coin offering (ICO) throughout August 2017, raising over $28 million for the project and distributing 50 million tokens to ICO participants. The remaining 50 million tokens were held by the Neo Council for the long-term support of Neo projects.
Of the 50 million NEO retained by the Neo Council, the team guaranteed that the council wouldn’t use more than 15 million tokens per year and that tokens would be distributed as follows:
- 10 million NEO are used as an incentive for Neo developers and the Neo Council;
- 10 million NEO are used as an incentive for developers working within the Neo ecosystem;
- 15 million NEO are used for investing in other Neo Council blockchain projects;
- 15 million retained as a contingency.
The NEO token reached its all-time high of $196.85 in January 2018 following the platform’s rebranding from Antshares and release of the Neo NEP-5 token standard. The project’s token dipped to an all-time low of $0.07229 in October 2016 just after the launch of the Antshares mainnet.
Like the prices of many other cryptocurrencies, NEO’s price stagnated for most of 2018. Then, it failed to rise above $25 in 2019 and 2020. But during the crypto bull run in May 2021, NEO’s price surged to $140, which was the highest price in more than three years.
How does Neo work?
Neo is a distributed network that uses blockchain technology and smart contracts to automate digital asset management. The blockchain’s mission is to make any asset, digital or physical, accessible to real human beings and to computer programs with minimized trust and permission.
The Neo blockchain uses a “Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerant” (dBFT) consensus algorithm that is capable of generating a block in 15 to 20 seconds with transaction speeds of around 1,000 transactions per second. The project’s documents state that Neo has the capacity to reach speeds of up to 100,000 transactions per second.
Neo’s NeoContract smart contract system consists of three parts, including a universal blockchain virtual machine (NeoVM), interoperable services (InteropService) and a compiler with an IDE plug-in (DevPack). By creating a uniform system with an IDE for NeoContract development, developers can write and deploy contracts in a variety of programming languages, including Python, Java, Go and C#.
One of the key features of the Neo blockchain is its decentralized identity tool: NeoID. NeoID enables on-chain authentication tools that let users verify credentials without the need for sharing private data. NeoID’s identity framework has broad use for decentralized applications and can be integrated into data verification, attribute verification and other identity services.
Key events and management
Neo was founded by Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang in 2014 under the name Antshares. A year after the project was launched, Antshares put the code for its smart-contract blockchain on GitHub and launched the TestNet for community development. By October 2016, the Antshares blockchain released its mainnet.
As the Antshares community continued to grow, the team sought to expand its operations internationally. To better represent the brand on an international level and highlight Antshare’s newly integrated Smart Contract 2.0 upgrade, the Antshares blockchain was renamed Neo in 2017.
Alongside the rebranding, Neo distributed its NEO tokens via the ICO and established the Neo Council, which consists of the project’s founding members, a management committee, a technical committee and a secretariat who are responsible for the promoting and developing the product.