One of the top 10 cryptocurrencies in terms of market value and formerly known as Antshares, NEO is China’s first original public blockchain project and like Ethereum, uses the concept of smart contracts. The rebranding to NEO took place in June 2017.

NEO’s objective, while ultimately utilizing many of the same technologies as Ethereum, is to be the platform for a new smart economy — a lofty goal.

So, NEO is more than just a public blockchain, it is a framework to help design the future smart economy.

As part of the transition from Antshares 1.0 to NEO smart contract system 2.0, it upgraded its blockchain nodes, technical documents and marketing (e.g. social media, official site ( etc.

The currency hopes to capitalize on its Chinese connections by recalling the success stories of other Chinese digital giants such as Alibaba and Tencent. Now that cryptocurrency exchanges are banned in China, the currency represents a way of investing in the Chinese crypto opportunity.

The NEO team see Ethereum as their major competitor, mainly because of the strengths of NEO.

  • NEO and Ethereum are aiming for similar roles in the crypto community. Both want to be the platforms for the new internet:
    > For Decentralized Applications (DApps)
    > Initial Coin Offering and smart contracts
  • NEO embraces the fact that in a future economy, government & companies leveraging the power of blockchain technology, will:
    > need and want to have digital identities
    > want to digitise assets
    > need smart contracts to underpin the ecosystem
  • NEO uses a unique blockchain algorithm that improves upon Ethereum’s model.
  • NEO also closes loopholes that have caused some Ether contracts to be vulnerable to hackers.

What are smart contracts?

If you have experienced traditional contract law you will know it to be neither ‘smart’ or precise, open to interpretation. Laws can be interpreted in certain ways and are governed by cases i.e. the concept of case law. If two parties enter into a contract and they don’t agree whether conditions have been fulfilled, it can be a stressful, protracted and expensive process to resolve.

Smart contracts use the long established and revered logic of ‘if-then-else’ statements to instantly complete (or not complete) a contract.

For example, a digital (smart) contract governs an agreement between two (or more) individuals and/or parties. If X occurs, then Y is provided. And If X does not occur, Z is the recourse i.e., Z is the else.

This conditional coding approach is effectively translating traditional contract law into code, a powerful new idea in its own right.

Smart contracts are a digital, borderless and trust-less new way for two or more parties to interface using an algorithm. Not just this, there are a lot more benefits of smart contracts.

The bigger picture for NEO and the OnChain relationship

NEO is positioned as a “public cloud” and is a part of a much bigger strategy by the Chinese government in establishing pre-eminence as a Blockchain platform industry leader. They want developers to use their tools & platform and develop the ecosystem. Indeed, NEO developers use JAVA, C/C++ etc to make development more easily accessible rather than the Solidity coding approach used by Ethereum.

OnChain has been voted as a top 50 Fintech company in China by KPMG. The founders of NEO, Da HongFei and Erik Zhang, also founded OnChain.

Understanding OnChain is critical to fully understand NEO. It must be noted that they are not the same company, but their interests align, and have a partnership together.

OnChain’s system, known as DNA (Decentralized Network Architecture) aims to work with Chinese businesses and government. NEO acts as the building block of the DNA. If OnChain can integrate with the Chinese businesses and government, that will greatly spur adoption of NEO.

Ultimately, DNA develops public and private blockchains for businesses. These blockchains then link up to NEO to join the decentralized economy. Businesses then have all the benefits of both private and public blockchains. Think of NEO as providing the public blockchains and OnChain’s DNA providing the private blockchains.

Da HongFei, co-founder of NEO and OnChain said:

“Our vision is to make Onchain a truly universal Blockchain framework. Utilizing different plug-in modules, our framework could be applied to a public chain, a consortium chain or even a private chain. Our cross-chain adaptor module, currently under development, creates interoperability among these different chains.”

During last 18 months, OnChain has developed partnerships with some major brands.

  • Microsoft: Various partnerships with Microsoft China on digital signatures
  • Alibaba: In 2016, OnChain announced a partnership with Alibaba to provide attested email service for Ali Cloud with Legal Chain (an OnChain subsidiary) where it provides a proof-of-existence for a blockchain-powered email evidence repository for enterprise-level use.
  • FaDaDa: FaDaDa is a third-party platform for electronic contracts that has processed over 27 million contracts to date. The partnership is exploring how to leverage OnChain’s Decentralised Network Architecture (DNA) to provide secure evidence storage.
  • HNA Group: A strategic partnership with e-King Technologies, a subsidiary of a Fortune’s 500 company HNA Group, is being explored to understand the application of OnChain’s Decentralised Network Architecture for private enterprises.
  • Guizhou government: Guizhou province, in South West China, is currently leading China in the big data industry. The province is now working with Onchain to develop to make digital identity a reality and become the first region to commit to the development of a blockchain-based system for public services.
  • Fosun Group: China’s largest private conglomerate, have recently invested into Onchain in order to apply DNA across all of its businesses. Currently, Fosun International has a market cap of over USD 100bn on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Jonathan Lavercombe

Written by

Chief Marketing Officer at

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