Neo uses digital identities and blockchain technologies to automate the management of digital assets and digitize assets using smart contracts. Its primary aim is to create a ‘smart economy’ through a distributed network. It was founded by Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang in 2014 and rebranded as ‘Ant Shares’ in 2017. It is regarded as the ‘Ethereum of China’ as some of its features bear a resemblance to Ethereum. According to the NEO website, the three components which constitute a smart economy are:
- Digital Assets
This exists in binary format and carries the right to use. A digital entity must have the right to use and only then it will be qualified as a digital asset. It is possible to have a digital asset in a centralized environment, but that would prove to be risky. Global assets and contract assets are the two types of digital assets. Global assets are identified by the whole system and smart contracts and clients. Contract assets are those which are recognized only in specific contracts and cannot be used in all contracts.
- Digital Identity
Digital identity refers to the information which computer systems use to represent external agents. This agent may be anyone such as an organization, application, person, or device. Digital assets must have trustworthy identities to function. Neo uses the X.509 digital identity standard and the Web of Trust point-to-point certificate issuance model. Identity is verified through voice, SMS, fingerprints, facial features, and other multi-factor methods.
- Smart Contract
Smart contracts are self-executing contracts which are pieces of code on blockchains such as Ethereum and NEO. They are written by smart contract developers in a programming language. It is a computer protocol that is used to facilitate, enforce, or verify the performance of a contract. This helps exchange money, property, shares, or anything of value in a conflict-free, transparent manner thus eliminating the need for intermediaries.
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