NEO – Building a Smart Economy

Over the coming weeks and months I will be focusing on a series of in-depth articles on NEO’s vision of a Smart Economy. This first article will focus on NEO itself and what their idea of a Smart Economy actually is. From there we will take a look at their partners in this Smart Economy like Ontology Network, TheKEY, Trinity Protocol, Elastos, and more.

What is NEO?

Anyone involved in cryptocurrencies must have heard about NEO by now. NEO (used to be known as Antshares) is a platform that supports the development of dApps, smart contracts and the storage of digital assets. This means that other projects can build their dApps onto NEO with the NEO framework instead of starting from zero. Also individuals, businesses and other entities will be able to digitally register assets on the blockchain through NEO. Because of the speed, safety and amazing vision of NEO, we are seeing growing interest from projects that want to build on NEO.
NEO is not the “Chinese Ethereum”
We see a lot of media outlets covering NEO as China’s Ethereum. This is totally wrong, Ethereum and NEO are built technologically in totally different ways, with totally different use cases. In fact I would argue that NEO is much better than Ethereum from a technological viewpoint, but there are many articles covering this so I won’t go into depth about it here. Besides the obvious difference in consensus model (NEO using dBFT compared to Ethereum’s PoW or soon to be PoS), the use case and vision of the two is totally different. It is true that they both support development of dApps and smart contracts can be made on both platforms and in that way they are definitely similar. But the difference lies in the use case, vision and execution of the two platforms.
As is described on their website, Ethereum is a ‘Blockchain App Platform’. It allows developers to create dApps on the blockchain, and though Ethereum has brought change and ‘upgraded’ the whole blockchain space as a whole I think it is stuck right now because it is too focused on technology and the idea of decentralization and not enough on actual economics/business. Of course decentralization is a great thing, but I think we first need to connect blockchain with the real world and then gradually move in that direction. NEO is capable of doing everything Ethereum can do, and by having a great team that is focused on compliance and real-world use it is able to work together with businesses and/or institutions. The NEO Council and their partners have a vision of creating something that will change the world and how we live our daily lives. NEO’s vision of a Smart Economy and focus on connecting to and changing the world around us is what sets it apart from all of the other cryptocurrencies.

Smart Economy

As mentioned above, NEO is not simply trying to be a platform for smart contracts and dApps. They want to build a Smart Economy. Sounds interesting, but what does that mean? To become a ‘Smart Economy’ every part in this economy has to be connected, working seamlessly with one another, and transactions and interactions should be mostly automated, trusted and without the need of intermediaries. Now blockchain technology itself is taking down one of the biggest inefficiencies in our current economy and society, the problem of trust. We are already seeing a huge shift in the way of handling trust. After the rise of Bitcoin we have been seeing a huge growth in cryptocurrencies that are made for peer-to-peer transactions without the need to put someone in between or having to trust someone. As we know the technology behind this is called blockchain. But blockchain technology can be used for a lot of other things and trust is not only about peer-to-peer transactions, it is actually necessary in many other different situations in our daily life. Ethereum made the first steps in this direction with the development of smart contracts and has been called Blockchain 2.0. NEO is taking this to the next level with a better technology and a business- and compliance-focused team behind it. NEO is one of the so-called Blockchain 3.0 platforms that will change our world.
In the world of today trust is managed by lawyers, banks, governments and other institutions but much time and money is lost by manually checking simple facts, data or transactions. This has been necessary for the economy and society to function, but it is very inefficient nonetheless. NEO will be removing a great part of those inefficiencies by creating a Smart Economy. Let’s say you want to get a loan. Normally you have to go to the city hall to get some documents, then get these document to the bank and then wait a few days for them to check it and get the result of the loan. Now in NEO’s Smart Economy when you apply for a loan you get it approved within a few minutes and have everything arranged without going through all the trouble. Bit by bit processes in the economy/society will move away from the manual way of doing things and because of the trust, security and efficiency that NEO and its ecosystem provide I believe it will be the leading blockchain project for this purpose. It doesn’t solve just one certain thing like other blockchain projects, it changes the economy/society as a whole and will make our lives a lot easier.
Real-world examples
Ok that sounds nice and all on paper, but how would a Smart Economy work? The base of the Smart Economy is your identity, which can be registered within the NEO ecosystem and connected to your biometric data (fingerprints, facial recognition etc.). By being stored on the blockchain no one can access it but you, and it can only be used where authorised by yourself. Now you can use your identity to prove you are you whenever necessary, say instead of going to the city hall when you are moving and want to register a new address you can make this change yourself on the blockchain where your ID is stored. Most likely we will get to the point where this ID replaces our passports and when you get on an airplane and travel to a different country you can prove your ID without a passport.
Now your identity is safe on the blockchain and only usable by you. So why not connect it so you can use it to access your bank account (or decentralized cryptocurrency accounts in the future when all banks cease to exist, haha.. 😉). Or maybe your pension account, or health insurance? All your medical data could be stored on the blockchain and connected to your ID, and by connecting to your health insurance you could get paid immediately when something happens. You could connect your ID to literally anything, maybe to your favourite airline or hotel chain to save points and have your membership status saved within your digital ID. Of course you are totally free to choose to what you connect your digital ID and who has access to certain details from your digital ID. And it’s not all stored on the same location, but by utilizing NeoX the blockchains on which all of these different types of data are stored are able to interact. Again, your digital identity is at the base of all of this.
I’m sure you can imagine the impact of all of this. No need to go somewhere and file a lot of paperwork, wait days for someone to manually check everything. No need to get a new passport every few years as all your data is stored in your ’NEO passport’. And I’m sure there are a lot of other possibilities that will open up that we haven’t even thought of.

Ecosystem

To create this Smart Economy, NEO needs partners and other projects to be a part of this big ecosystem. Some of the foundations of the Smart Economy are built in NEO itself (like part of the identification explained above with NEO ID) but most of it comes from partner projects as dApps on the NEO platform or even seperate platforms but with a similar vision. NEO is rapidly expanding with more and more projects and dApps being developed.
Some examples are:
-TheKEY (identification)
-Ontology (bridge between the whole NEO ecosystem, businesses and individuals)
-APEX + Red Pulse (data + information exchange markets)
-NEON Exchange (decentralised exchange, ‘crypto’ bank, and more)
-Qlink (decentralised cellular and data networks)
-Zeepin (Intellectual property market, creative platform)
-Elastos (decentralized internet and operating system)
And many more amazing projects and platforms on the way. As NEO is not a private company but a community-driven project, this Smart Economy can be fuelled with literally anything we (as the community) can think of. In the coming weeks I will be posting more articles on some of the above projects to give a better image of how everything within the NEO ecosystem interacts and works together.
Please see the below diagram for how the ecosystem looks at this moment. It is far from perfect and still incomplete but should give an idea of how everything is connected.

Smart Society?

I think that though NEO is talking about a Smart Economy, as we find more use cases for blockchain technology and with more partners joining NEO’s vision we might even end up having a complete Smart Society. Technically all blockchain projects out there are trying to build one part of such a smart society, but the beautiful thing of NEO is that it is making all of their projects and partners connect and create one whole ecosystem.
All in all NEO is a very ambitious project, but the team and community behind it is very solid and there is no doubt that NEO will continue to grow as one of the most influential projects in the blockchain space.
**NOTE: NEO will be giving an update on their vision at the Devcon in Silicon Valley on January 30th/31st. This could give us some more insights into the Smart Economy and we will definitely give an update with more info after the Devcon.

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