NEO’s New Vision: The Moonshot

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NEO’s New Vision: The Moonshot

NEO DevCon brought together blockchain enthusiasts, developers, investors, and entrepreneurs from all around the world into an intimate environment teaming with information and enthusiasm.

One of the conference’s main attractions?  NEO’s founder, Da Hongfei. Conference-goers waited in anticipation for Hongfei to make a statement about how far NEO has come in such a short period of time and to where he and the NEO team envision it going in the future.

The New Vision: Da Hongfei’s Presentation on the Future of NEO

Da Hongfei ushered in his brainchild’s inaugural developer conference on a note effusive with ambition. His presentation began with a montage of mankind’s struggles and successes, innovations, and failures, overlaid with JFK’s “We choose to go to the moon” speech that invoked clear overtones of NEO’s moonshot aspirations.


Throughout the talk, Hongfei continued to play on the imagination of the crowd with anecdotes of NEO’s early days, and he even compared the project’s dedication to that of a fledgling Olympic athlete. Brimming with energy, humor, and a confident swagger, Hongfei set a tone for NEO’s first ever DevCon, painting a picture of the future for his project with surefire optimism.

NEO’s Origin: Antshares and the Call for a Smarter Economy

After showing the video as a presentation primer, DA Hongfei cracked a few jokes, slipping into an impromptu stand-up routine that has become a hallmark of his public speaking.

Once he eased the audience into his talk, setting a lighthearted tone, he began to delve into the history of NEO, and the genesis of the project may surprise you. It wasn’t born from a eureka moment from within, from a pure and complete idea that took shape definitively in Hongfei’s mind.  It came from a Bitcoin Talk forum, and not one of Da Hongfei’s own.

On August 9th, 2012, forum user friedcat proposed the use of ASIC processors for the future of Bitcoin mining. Soliciting the forum for funds, he invited other users to invest in ASICMINER and Bitfountain to help develop the future of the technology. After raising 16,000 BTC–$150,000 at the time, roughly $192mln! now–friedcat disappeared and ran off with the funds completely, leaving promises of revenue sharing and investment returns unfulfilled.

“Why couldn’t we build a blockchain for crowdfunding so something like that doesn’t happen again,” Hongfei asked himself, and thus, Antshares was born.

Hongfei wanted to create Antshares to foster an economic model under which the world could manage its finances more securely and with greater efficiency. This smart economy would not only prevent the kind of fraudulent propagated by malicious actors like friedcat, but it would also foster a system that would empower its users and streamline all aspects of financial transactions.

So what is a smart economy?  According to DA Hongfei, it “is a digitized economy, so everything should and will be digitized: the currency, the money, the assets–could be physical assets, could be intangible assets. Even your identity and the identity of your belongings, of machines. And a smart economy is also a programmable economy. We need a programmable economy, we need transparency, we need smart contracts to manage these currencies, these assets, these identities.  So a smart economy is a trustless economy.”

This definition is holistic in scope and envisions an economy that brings together aspects of personal finance, technological advancement, and multi-faceted identities into a single intersection. Simply put, “a smart economy is digitized, is programmable, is trustless.”

neo cofounders

Obviously, Hongfei sees NEO as an integral peg in the spokes that will turn the wheel of this new economy, so when he touched on the recently released Weiss cryptocurrency ratings, it’s not surprising that he was pleased with NEO’s grade.

“It’s happy that we’re one of the five [projects to get a B]. I don’t know why we’re better than Bitcoin, but we’re happy to be one of the good students.”  Pleased but not complacent, he concluded by stating that, going forward, NEO will “strive to be one of the first A students.”

NEO’s Community Initiative

In hopes of reaching this potential, NEO’s team is working on establishing a tight-knit community of developers, investors, media partners, and entrepreneurs to create an all-encompassing body of NEO supporters.  Hongfei spoke on a few of these projects helping to build this comprehensive ecosystem with the Community Initiative.

One of these players is City of Zion, “an independent group of open source developers, designers and translators formed to support the NEO BlockChain core and ecosystem.” CoZ developers have created such NEO-based projects as the NEON Wallet, NEO Scan, NEO Portal, and are responsible for translating the NEO white paper into “10 different languages,” according to DA Hongfei.  

City of Zion

He also briefly touched on the New Economy Lab (NEL) and Red 4 Sec, two community initiatives that are new to the space and growing.

Later on in the talk, Hongfei went into the NEO Council’s role in delegating the use of NEO’s capital. Going forward, the NEO Global Capital, “a licensed fund registered in Singapore managed by veteran venture capitalists,” Da Hongfei noted, will be a key actor in fund allocation.  

In addition, NEO has made efforts towards establishing its Open Blockchain Foundation. “The purpose of the foundation is to fund research,” Da Hongfei explained to his audience.  Expanding on its role further, it will be NEO’s vessel to deliver $5-10mln in blockchain-related research over the next few years.  It will also foster blockchain/crypto education and student training, and NEO is currently partnered with UC Berkeley–and talking to other leading universities–to spearhead the initiative.

NEO’s Future in the Eyes of its Creator

Hongfei stressed the progress NEO has been making over the past year, emphasizing the projects that have taken to the platform to build their applications

“I’m always asked how many smart contracts, how many dApps are built on NEO’s blockchain,” he said.  Pointing to a presentation slide displaying these projects, he told his listeners, “now you can see–there are dozens.”

Pleased as he is with this progress, Hongfei told the audience that he won’t be satisfied until the platform reaches its peak, long-term goal: “To make NEO the No.1 blockchain by 2020.”  

“But how?  It’s difficult–it’s really difficult,” he continued to admit.  Laying out his gameplan to (hopefully) get NEO to Bitcoin’s gold medal pedestal, he delved into the three “killer apps” he believes that blockchain have created thus far.

“The first killer app of blockchain is Decentralized Gold, [so]Bitcoin is the first killer app of blockchain.”

The second of these, Hongfei holds, are ICOs: “We have to admit, that ICOs have brought many people to this industry–they helped Ethereum to become the second largest cryptocurrency.”

Hong Fei Neo

Exchanges, however, and currency trading in general, are the “biggest use cases” for crypto as the market currently operates, and he believes that decentralized exchanges will be crucial for the future health of cryptocurrency trading.

“Centralized exchanges will die,” he argues, but in order for DEXs to become relevant, Hongfei claims that they will need the following features:

  • Quick transaction times
  • Finality
  • Interoperability
  • Digital identity
  • Stable coin for universal pairs

“We need these five crucial points to build a perfect exchange,” and in his estimation, “NEO has all the ingredients” thanks to the following features:

  • High TPS 1,000/sec
  • Finality: NEO only needs 1 confirmation for transaction approval and distributed consensus
  • Interoperability through NeoX
  • Digital ID through NeoID/Ontology
  • Stable Coin: Alchemist (Hongfei didn’t go into much detail about this, but theoretically, Alchemist is a protocol for price stability)

Is this Da Hongfei teasing that a NEO DEX is in the works?  Well, there pretty much is one.  While it’s not a project directly under the supervision of NEO’s team, Da Hongfei undoubtedly was referencing NEX, a decentralized exchange built on NEO and lead by City of Zion’s founder Fabio Canesin.

NEO striving for excellence in the crypto exchange field isn’t too surprising, as it falls in line with the project’s dedication to unparalleled quality.  For instance, in addition to reaching the #1 market cap spot in two years, Hongfei wants NEO to handle 100,000 tx/sec without sharding, confidently proclaiming, “We will achieve that before 2020.”

Decentralization process

Towards the tale end of his segment, Da Hongfei addressed NEO’s efforts towards decentralization, a critical move in the eyes of the community.  

“NEO is often blamed for being very centralized,” its creator admitted, but added that “consensus Nodes will be decentralized starting in 2018.”

To facilitate this process, a campaign website will be put online for candidates to apply for a consensus node.  As it stands, City of Zion, KPN (a Dutch Telecommunications Company), and Fenbushi (a Chinese venture capital firm), have all committed to running a few of these nodes.

Moving from a focus on infrastructural decentralization, Hongfei touched on financial decentralization. This took the form of outlining the future use of NEO’s reserve tokens, the 50% of the token supply that has been–and will continue to be–slowly released over a 6 year period.  Of the 35mln NEO still to be released, 10% will be reserved for team incentives, 10% for community incentives, 15% for investment in projects within the NEO ecosystem, and 15% will be used flexibly as part of NEO’s contingency strategy.

The NEO Smart Economy

Throughout his presentation, Da Hongfei interwove bits of humor, sprinkling his speech with the occasional comedic gem.  These nuggets of stand-up ranged from light self-deprecation–“Who is that fat guy up there?” Hongfei asked rhetorically, pointing to a slideshow picture of himself from the old days of Antshares–to unabashed details of his salary, referring to the lock-up of his shares in NEO. “I haven’t been paid in for years,” he admitted to an audience moved to laughter.

NEO smart economy

But all the while, Da Hongfei kept true to NEO’s vision, infusing his speech with the same tireless drive that makes the future a promising one for his project.  This vision, Da Hongfei iterated, is one of a new economy based on technology: NEO’s Smart Economy.  It’s an economy that promises efficiency, security, and convenience, one that NEO’s community–with all of its working parts from tech development, to media, to investments–is working towards every day.

As such, his talk ended on a note of optimism for NEO’s ability to keep this vision in focus until it is fully realized, and he made sure to stress the importance of NEO’s widespread and talent-diverse community in achieving this goal.  

Finishing up, he thanked those responsible for helping propel NEO to where it is today, and he petitioned those on the fringes to join the movement: “I’m so honored that NEO can become such a world class project–all I can say is thank you, thank you to the NEO community, and please join us.”

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