NEO, originally named Antshares and sometimes called the “Chinese Ethereum”, is China’s first open-source blockchain platform developed to facilitate the easy construction of a digital economy complete with digital identities, assets, contracts, and payments. Founders Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang aim to offer a more-easily scalable, versatile platform that supports a panoply of programming languages, which are compiled in a secure executable environment called NEO Virtual Machine (NeoVM).
NEO aims to compete with Ethereum and other projects that position themselves as developer-friendly decentralized protocols to launch a strong foundation for a future digitized “smart” economy. NEO also aims to implement features like quantum-computing resistance and inter-chain operability for the most competitive a distributed “smart economy” network.
NEO’s goals of cross-chain interchangeability features come from NeoX, a protocol that supports cross-chain asset exchange and distributed transactions, which is to say it aims for consistency and executability of transactions across multiple protocols.
For its consensus mechanism, NEO relies on delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance (dBFT), which can support up to 10,000 transactions per second. Validating nodes are randomly selected to confirm on-chain transactions by a collective of book-keeping nodes, which mimics the consensus mechanism of protocols like Stellar in some ways. Chain hard forks are more more complicated under dBFT consensus than Proof of Work (PoW), for example. Users cannot fork the chain at will like under PoW consensus since dBFT requires a two-thirds user majority to operate.
NEO also supports two native tokens: NEO and NeoGas (GAS). NEO is a payments token that also confers governance rights over the network’s changes and development. GAS is a fuel token for the NEO virtual machine useful for executing smart contracts and supporting applications built on NEO.