Neo Smart Economy Sees a Walk to Decentralization, Not a Race

Blockworks exclusive: The open source, community-driven platform told Blockworks that it believes blockchain interoperability is the future


Andrey Bayda/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


Neo, a smart contract platform founded in 2014, has been called the Chinese Ethereum. In fact, on Neo’s website, it bills itself as the first platform of its kind to be launched in the country. 

Da Hongfei, founder of Neo, told Blockworks that the protocol sees itself as a pragmatic player in the effort to drive toward a world that relies on blockchain technology for its transacting needs.

He added that he doesn’t view decentralized innovation as a race, and hopes to see Neo’s long term vision eventually come to fruition. 

Blockchain interoperability, the idea that different blockchains should be able to communicate with one another, was something that Hongfei stressed as one important development that needs to be made in the crypto space.

It isn’t a new idea. Crypto bridges were one means to that end, and there was a lot of hype around them at the beginning of last year. In fact, JPMorgan analysts wrote in a January report that 2022 was “possibly the year of the blockchain bridge.”

Instead, bridge hacks accounted for more than a billion dollars in stolen funds in 2022, according to research from blockchain analytics and compliance firm Elliptic.

Neo wasn’t isolated from this phenomenon. Da Hongfei told Blockworks that “in 2020 Neo joined co-founding members Ontology and Switcheo to launch the interoperability protocol Poly Network to pioneer heterogeneous interoperability across numerous chains including Ethereum, Ontology and Cosmos-SDK.”

Just under a year later, hackers made away with over $600 million from Poly Network. It remains one of the largest decentralized finance breaches in history, only behind the $625 million hack of Ronin Network

“Neo’s experiences have shown, it’s a ‘walk towards decentralization,’” Hongfei said in a written statement. “We recognize that there are further steps to undertake.”

Neo has indeed taken steps toward realizing its goals. Just before the Poly Network hack, Neo launched version N3 of its platform in August 2021, which “boasts more powerful and complete features, a highly modular architecture, and an enhanced governance and economic model for users,” Hongfei said.

The importance of modular blockchains is that they allow much more transactions to be verified, Nick White, chief operating officer at Celestia Labs, told Blockworks on the 0xResearch podcast in early April.

Beyond adding modular structure to Neo’s smart economy, Hongfei added that since launching N3, NEO tokens are now listed on over 50 exchanges and fees on the network have been reduced 80%. He noted that Neo has also developed encrypted messaging and digital identity solutions, allowing users to communicate via NeoChat and register a domain name through NeoNS. 

On Monday, Neo announced it had struck up a partnership with payments solution provider Alchemy Pay, which set up an on-ramp for Neo users to purchase crypto with their local fiat currencies. Alchemy Pay is supported in over 170 countries and accepts over 50 fiat currencies, “enabling even more people across the globe to access this service,” Hongfei said.

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