Neo (market cap $5 billion), the so called "Chinese Ethereum," is both vulnerable to the stifling effects of potential Chinese regulation, as well as perfectly positioned to benefit from any move by the Chinese government to partner with an appropriately aligned cryptocurrency company. Neo may provide the middle ground China needs between unregulated, decentralized, anonymous blockchain platforms like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and the completely regulated banking and credit card systems. Perhaps also worth considering when evaluating the potential of Neo is the fact that the Chinese people like their national alternatives: Alibaba vs. Amazon, Baidu vs. Google, WeChat vs. Facebook.
The Chinese government was reported to be experimenting with the creation of its own national cryptocurrency in mid-2017, in spite of its hard stance against cryptocurrencies and ICOs in general. There were also rumors that the government might be open to working with an existing cryptocurrency company that is willing to play by its rules. If true, local Chinese ventures Neo and Onchain would be the top contenders for such a public-private partnership.
Neo’s OnChain technology platform was designed to be China-friendly, i.e., centralized and easy to regulate. Neo and OnChain, two separate but interdependent companies, are both based in Shanghai. Neo and OnChain together provide a smart contracts ecosystem, a shoot-for-the-moon partnership that aims to create a "smart economy" that’s made up of what is summarized as "Digital Assets + Digital Identity + Smart Contracts."
Neo, starting out as AntShares in 2014, was China’s first blockchain platform. OnChain was founded in 2016 as a venture-backed company that provided blockchain-based AntShares financial services. In 2017, AntShares rebranded as Neo.
Neo and OnChain link an asset with an equivalent and unique digital avatar on the network. Users are able to record ownership of assets that they create or inherit, and they are able to buy, sell, exchange, or otherwise circulate all kinds of assets. By registering assets on its platform with a validated digital identity, user/owner rights are “protected by law” in China. Key information about an asset, such as participating individuals, organizations, and other entities, is cryptologically verified and secured.
Every individual, business, or any other entity operating on the Neo platform, and every node on the platform, is expected to have a unique digital identity. This provides the necessary financial and legal framework for regulatory friendliness that the Chinese government will require of any prospective national cryptocurrency.
Neo and Onchain are two separate entities that exist independently, and neither owns the other. Neo and Onchain envision a future in which they will be able to achieve cross-chain interoperability. For now, Neo targets the B2C segment, while Onchain focuses on B2B enterprise services. Both are funded separately. Neo is funded by a public community, whereas Onchain is backed by Fosun, China’s largest private conglomerate.
Cryptocurrency investors may do well to watch closely as the drama around Neo unfolds. Its value could spike dramatically, not only if the Chinese government moves in one way or another to legitimize the Neo as a nationally-favored cryptocurrency, but also if other authoritarian governments, wary of the decentralized and anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies, also grow fond of Neo.
By: BGN Editorial Staff