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Our Third Ethereum Killer Review – NEO


By Bernard Lunn.






This is the third in our 4-part series about Ethereum-killer platforms by a developer called Saurabh Chaturvedi.

We are looking at the top 4 Ethereum-killer platforms by market cap:
- Cardano
- EOS
- Neo – today
- Qtum – next week

The usual Ethereum-killer platform narrative goes like this:
- Version 1 = Bitcoin = limited scripting language
- Version 2 = Ethereum = Turing complete “build whatever you like”
- Version 3 = Ethereum-killers = Turing complete done right.

If that narrative has any value, the developer view is critical. If developers like the platform today, investors and big institutions will be more likely to like the platform tomorrow. The developer view is forward-looking fundamental analysis (our focus at Daily Fintech).

In order to do a real comparison of these platforms, we assess all of them on the same 4 axes:

1. Transactional Scalability. In simple terms, how many Transactions Per Second (TPS)?

2. Security. No point in having high TPS if funds can be easily stolen/lost. There are usually trade offs between 1 and 2.

3. Functional Scalability. How easy is it to build apps on this platform?

4. Developer enthusiasm. If you are not technical, it is hard to understand the arguments for and against 1,2 and 3, but a reasonable proxy is an active developer community and one way to see that is to look at activity on Github.

Introduction to NEO: It’s no surprise that NEO is being hailed as the Ethereum of China. When compared with Ethereum, we realise that NEO has lots of different goals, and isn’t an Ethereum competitor in many areas. The primary difference between the two platforms is NEO’s explicit focus on building a “smart economy” of the future, based on smart contracts. Here’s NEO’s official goal, as mentioned on their website: ‘NEO is a non-profit community-based blockchain project that utilizes blockchain technology and digital identity to digitize assets, to automate the management of digital assets using smart contracts, and to realize a “smart economy” with a distributed network.’

NEO Scalability: NEO’s workhorse algorithm is based on a protocol termed as dBFT: Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance. Instead of letting all nodes participate in the validation process – which can significantly reduce transaction speed, NEO users can vote for delegates for validation. These delegates are called bookkeepers, and they have the responsibility of maintaining the network for everyone. This makes NEO run faster, and with a more rapid decision-making process. Furthermore, these bookkeepers will have to make their digital identities known, which makes NEO much more government-compliant than Ethereum. By the way, government-compliance is another thing on which NEO focuses extensively. Since there’s always a possibility of government intervention in any public blockchain system, this is actually a good step taken by NEO’s core developers.

But this delegation process has an obvious disadvantage – NEO won’t be as decentralised as other blockchain platforms. Also, as of now, the majority of the validator nodes are being operated by the NEO team itself. However, the platform is planning to spread out the bookkeeper group as time progresses, making the system closer to true decentralisation.

NEO Security: NEO’s security implementation involves using the rising technology of quantum computing, which will be much more powerful than the current public-key encryption standard. But all of the security aspects will still be compliant with the current security standards. Moreover, since NEO is going to be much more government-compliant than any other existing blockchain platform out there, security would be directly enforced in the system. Also, rather than every user being anonymous, each NEO user will have their own “digital identity”, which is a crucial step for a platform which aims to be regulatory-compliant.

NEO Functional Scalability: NEO’s official website boasts that developers don’t have to learn a new programming language for creating contracts on their platform. Instead, they can use their existing knowledge of popular programming languages like C# and Java for this purpose. This indeed makes NEO a developer friendly platform. Also, the dApp section of the website boasts a number of interesting applications developed by the NEO community, signalling a rising developer enthusiasm for the platform.

NEO Developer Enthusiasm: The GitHub documentation on adding a new dApp on the platform is very comprehensive, providing developers with a smooth dApp deployment experience. However, note that a significant portion of the documentation is still in Chinese, so the language issue might become a bottleneck in the process of attracting developers. But no one can deny that NEO has developed a strong community – the NEO subreddit boasts about 76,000 subscribers – and a lot of those subscribers are potential NEO developers. The core NEO project on GitHub has about 2K stars, which is a lot, but a lot less when compared with other platforms mentioned earlier in this series. So again, the developer enthusiasm is rising, but is still in amateur phase.

Bernard Lunn
Bernard Lunn
Bernard Lunn
Founding Partner, Daily Fintech Advisers
www.dailyfintech.com

Bernard Lunn is a serial entrepreneur, senior executive, adviser and a strategic dealmaker. He worked in Fintech before it was called that with startups, growth stage and turnaround ventures (incl. Misys, Temenos, IMS, ITRS). He has lived and worked in America, India, UK & Switzerland and is adept at cross border deals.

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Thursday, February 15th 2018
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