This is the weekly “altcoin corner” article where we explore another project in the greater cryptocurrency ecosystem
NEO is a new player in the smart contract language sector of the cryptoverse, having launched from the AntShares blockchain under a rebrand. They have only been live since Mid-Summer 2017 but have succeeded in launching several large ICO since then, “The Key” being the latest. So what advantages and disadvantages does their platform have when compared to Ethereum’s?
Dedicated programming language vs. language flexibility
First of all, let’s look at some of the advantages. NEO smart contracts can be programmed in a host of languages, C#, Java, etc., whereas Ethereum employs its own dedicated smart contract language, Solidity. This difference allows smart contract developers to program distributed applications in languages they are already familiar with. Solidity is a dedicated smart contract language, which may provide advantages to developers who have worked with the language, but its complexity, in its effort to remain Turing Complete, makes it difficult for developers new to the language to program their applications securely.
NEO wallet offers advantages over Ethereum’s Mist wallet as far as operability, it runs by default in Light Client Mode, and there is no need to execute a Watch Token function like users have to with Mist to see their token balances. Users can also participate directly in ICOs from the NEO wallet instead of having to trust a third party when funding ICO purchases.
Proof-of-stake (PoS) vs. proof-of-work (PoW)
NEO is a PoS crypto from its inception, rewarding users that stake the wallet in a token, GAS, which has a fixed and limited supply. PoS coins are much more energy efficient than PoW and NEO does not require any special equipment to earn staking rewards. Users only earn GAS on whole units of NEO, and they can also be held on the exchange Binance for GAS rewards, although Binance will take a portion of GAS rewards. There is no withdrawal fee for NEO from Binance, which makes that a great exchange to fund the NEON wallet from.
Ethereum is still in the process of moving from its PoW model to a PoS model, but even then, rewards will be provided in ETH, which unlike NEO, does not have a fixed limit to its supply. NEO clearly offers a better staking model for holders wishing to earn staking rewards.
Centralization vs. decentralization
There is one important advantage to Ethereum’s Mist Browser project, and that is the decentralized web browser application they are working on. It is still in an early development phase, and will not be fully functional until Ethereum moves to PoS in its Constantinople release, but it is certainly an offering NEO’s smart contract platform cannot claim.
NEO has another disadvantage in its use of a delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance system which relies heavily on secured nodes to prevent double spend issues. This makes NEO much more centralized than Ethereum, which, as difficult as an ETH node is to sync and keep synced because of its bulky size, is certainly an advantage for users that want a smart contract platform that is fully decentralized.
As an investment, NEO will certainly be a contender against ETH, not just because of its advantages over ETH, but because of the enthusiasm Chinese investors have traditionally shown for projects based in China. NEO certainly stand to benefit from its relationship with AliBaba and will likely be a top 10 coin for a long time to come.