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Neo bills itself as a “rapidly growing and developing” ecosystem that has the goal of becoming the foundation for the next generation of the internet — a new economy where digitized payments, identities and assets come together.
Initially known as Antshares, this project was believed to be China’s first-ever public blockchain when it was launched in February 2014. The open-source platform subsequently rebranded to Neo three years later.
As well as creating a worldwide community of developers who create new infrastructure for the network and lower barriers to entry, the team behind this project operate an EcoBoost initiative that’s designed to encourage people to build decentralized apps and smart contracts on its blockchain.
It’s often been likened to the Chinese version of the Ethereum network.
The co-founders of Neo, and its predecessor Antshares, are Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang. Both serve as chairmen of the Neo Foundation, which aims to promote the blockchain’s adoption.
Da Hongfei has said that, although the internet is a great invention, it has many flaws — and this means that everyday consumers don’t always have control over their own data. The entrepreneur believes blockchain applications will eventually go mainstream.
Erik Zhang was the author of the Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance algorithm, which aims to deter untrustworthy participants from taking part in the blockchain’s operation. This technology went on to be used in the Neo blockchain. He also served as the core developer for this network, and is playing an instrumental role in the development of Neo 3.0, the next iteration of the project’s infrastructure.
One of the unique selling points of the Neo blockchain concerns its continuous development, which helps ensure that it is futureproof and able to cope with sudden increases in demand. As mentioned earlier, the project has developed Neo 3.0 — enhancing network security and allowing a greater number of transactions per second to be processed.
Unlike many other blockchains, this network also has two native tokens: NEO and GAS. While NEO serves as an investment token and allows people to participate in votes concerning improvements to the blockchain, GAS is used to pay fees for the transactions that are being completed on the network.
Few other blockchain projects also run a development fund to the extent that Neo does. EcoBoost launched back in 2019, and it was billed as an initiative that provides “full life-cycle support for high-potential projects” — including grants, technical support and promotion on social media.
At the time of writing, there are 70.5 million NEO in circulation — and a total supply of 100 million. NEO tokens aren’t mined, and indeed, all 100 million of them were generated when the blockchain launched.
These tokens were distributed on a 50/50 basis — with half going to participants in a token sale, and the other half being split among developers and the NEO Council. At the time, it was confirmed that these funds would be used to invest in other blockchain protocol that the organization supports.
Meanwhile, GAS is generated every 20 seconds or so, whenever a new block is created. The number of tokens created gradually reduces every year, and it’s estimated that it’ll take 22 years for the total supply of 100 million to enter circulation.
As we mentioned earlier, Neo uses Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance, and it’s estimated that the blockchain is capable of processing thousands of transactions per second.
According to Neo, the dBFT mechanism has been inspired by the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance algorithm.
There are a couple of similarities with delegated proof-of-stake, given how both consensus mechanisms allow token holders to vote for the delegates who will process transactions.
Through dBFT, blocks are added to a blockchain as long as at least two-thirds of delegates reach consensus — and it’s hoped that this helps prevent bad actors from undermining the smooth running of the network.