NEO is inspired by some of the design concepts of Bitcoin, the world's first decentralized cryptocurrency, but with several attempts at improvement. One of NEO's features is proof-of-stake, whereby blocks in the blockchain are validated by the voting of nodes, replacing the computationally expensive proof-of-work that Bitcoin has. Another feature is Smart Contracts, code scripts stored on the blockchain which execute when their conditions are met. NEO is traded on bitni.com.
Blockchain based cryptocurrencies like NEO work by grouping transactions together in data blocks, then linking the blocks cryptographically. Pieces of code called Smart Contracts can be executed on the blockchain. The chain of blocks is stored across decentralized network of stakeholder nodes, and distributed as peer-to-peer shared files. Quantities of NEO are stored at addresses, cryptographic sequences paired with a private key used to spend the amount at the address. The user's wallet keeps track of all their NEO addresses and adds up the balance.
NEO was created by Erik Zhang and Da Hongfei as an attempt to technically improve cryptocurrencies, by increasing the generation of new blocks to once every few seconds instead of 10 minutes, lowering transaction costs with proof-of-stake, and Smart Contracts. NEO is maintained by the NEO Foundation, and is open source software, so anyone can improve it.
NEO is used for anything money is used for - buying, selling, donations. But NEO can also be used for even more things than fiat currency: A means of accepting donations or facilitating commerce that cannot be shut down by governments or the banking system. Also storing up wealth that cannot be confiscated.
NEO has more value than Fiat Currency because it's more useful: It's anonymous, decentralized, irreversable, cannot be devalued, cannot be confiscated, can be sent over the internet to anywhere in the world in minutes. Things that are very useful and scarce tend to be valuable. One reason NEO has value because it fulfills all of the requirements of money: Store of Value, Medium of Exchange, Unit of Account.
All the NEO coins that will supposedly ever exist were created at it's beginning - 100 million. 50 million were sold in an initial coin offering, the remaining are stored in a smart contract which releases 15 million per year to the NEO development team. When all the coins are released into circulation, there will be no more increase of supply, making NEO a deflationary currency.
An NEO transaction is a transfer of value from one address to another. Like Bitcoin, NEO can move value by spending previously unspent transactions, Like NEO, NEO can keep track of accounts and balances directly. A transaction is created by a user on their NEO client software, then broadcast out to all the other nodes and becomes part of the Blockchain.
The blockchain is a public record of all transactions by all addresses. However, an address is just a number - it doesn't reveal anything about the identity of the one using it, like a street address can. As long as this number is never linked to an identity, the NEO user is safe. There is no way to "trace" a NEO address to the person using it - unless they leave clues connecting their NEO address to their physical identity. bitni.com has maximum anonymity - we don't ask for personal details.
NEO is not minable. Traditional cryptocurrency mining is the computational process of adding new blocks to the blockchain. New transactions are grouped together in a block. New blocks must cryptographically connect to previous blocks with a proof-of-work hash function. NEO is proof-of-stake, which does away with the computationally expensive mining and replaces it with voting.
NEO was not designed to be taxed. If no one reports their NEO gains, there is no way an authoritarian regime can know who gained what. However, centralized exchanges with accounts and IDs do report their user's NEO balance to tax authorities. If you want privacy from authoritarian regimes, you need an accountless exchange that doesn't ask for your ID - bitni.com is the best exchange in this regard.
NEO ATMs allow a customer to buy NEO by inserting physical cash, like a vending machine, or send NEO to receive physical cash. (The former are called "1 way" ATMs and the latter are called "2 way".) If the NEO ATM is from a trusted manufacturer and operator, it should be safe to use. Different NEO ATMs have differing AML/KYC requirements.
NEO has scaled to handle millions of transactions per month. NEO is software, and it can evolve to scale - the code can be modified with better algorithms and the network then upgrades to the more advanced version. NEO attempts to improve on Bitcoin to solve scaling issues, by creating a new block every few seconds instead of 10 minutes, which allows transactions to be processed faster.
Anyone who knows the private key can move the coins from an address. If the private key is not known, it's not possible to spend the coins at an address. NEO stored in the wallets of a centralized exchange can be stolen - it happens all the time. At a Non-custodial exchange like bitni.com, you are in charge of your wallet at all times.
NEO was hacked in it's infancy, when the bugs were still getting worked out, but it was quickly patched. If the patched version NEO network could be hacked, it would have probably already happened. The blockchain is decentralized across thousands of independent nodes - the more nodes on the network, the higher the security. If any one node is compromised, it will not compromise the others. However, centralized NEO exchanges are hacked all the time! That's why you need a non-custodial exchange like bitni.com.
The data of all NEO transactions is stored in a public ledger (blockchain) distributed as peer-to-peer shared files. Each node has a complete copy of all transactions ever made - the blockchain. So the blockchain is stored in the cloud - not on a centralized server, but on thousands of independent nodes. Each user's NEO balance is also kept track of in their wallet.
A NEO wallet stores all of the user's NEO addresses. The sum value of all of the addresses in a wallet is automatically added up - this is the total balance of a wallet. Centralized exchanges store the user's wallet, which is risky. Non-custodial exchanges like bitni.com do NOT store user's wallets, which is much safer.
Millions of people everywhere in the world use NEO for all the same things as any other money is used for - buying, selling, and donations - and the number of users is growing rapidly. Anyone needing to transfer wealth internationally, especially outside the grasp of authoritarian regimes, for ridiculously low cost, will find NEO useful if they are not already using it. NEO is also used as an investment and a hedge against inflation.
Many merchants, especially online, accept cryptocurrencies as payment. Charities like Wikipedia accept donations in crypto. Web Hosts and Domain registrars often accept crypto. Large brick and mortar stores are starting to accept crypto payment. Some local restaurants are also coming on board. bitni.com accepts NEO to convert to other currencies, of course.
The reason why a cryptocurrency is the future can be summed up in 3 words: Because it's better. NEO is a huge improvement over fiat currency. It is also an improvement over precious metals - they can't be wired over the internet. If central banks continue destroying the value of fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies will become even more important to the future of money.
If NEO were going to crash to zero, it would have probably done it already. There have been wild price swings - because it's new and there's a lot of speculation, like the internet when it first came out. But there are wild price swings with other commodities like oil. NEO's low after it's all-time high of over a hundred dollars is still several dollars. For NEO to crash to $0, demand would need to be zero or supply would need to be infinite - a highly unlikely scenerio.
The Original Bitcoin has gone from pennies to thousands and thousands of dollars in less than a decade, utterly blown away the stock market, even gold and other precious metals, and far outperformed pretty much any other investment. While NEO has not reached Bitcoin's high, it has performed relatively well, going from less than a penny to over a hundred dollars at it's high - a pretty good investment.
Exchanges are where NEO is bought and sold, however there are several types: Centralized Exchanges store the user's coins like a bank and require ID. Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) facilitate peer-to-peer buying and selling between users - and these can be done locally in-person or online. Non-Custodial exchanges like bitni.com are a quick and easy way of swapping cryptocurrencies without signing up.
Many Centralized exchanges have rigorous requirements for identification, such as uploading a scan of passport or other government documents. Decentralized exchanges usually have less stringent requirements for identification, especially if the transaction is in-person. Non-custodial exchange bitni.com does not require identification for crypto-to-crypto swaps. If you want NEO without SSN, you've come to the right place.
KYC stands for Know Your Customer. Many regimes have become increasingly authoritarian towards cryptocurrency and seek to crack down on anonymous trading, by requiring the customer to upload documents proving their identity. Many exchanges have caved in to the pressure and now have KYC policies. Centralized exchanges almost always have KYC, some Decentralized exchanges do as well. bitni.com does not require KYC for crypto-to-crypto swaps.
Gold has been used as money for millenia. NEO has been used as money for a few years. Gold has a proven track record as a relatively stable store of value. It has gone up and down over the years, but no severe crashes or jumps. NEO on the other hand is unstable, can swing wildly in a day. Gold has been physically confiscated by governments in the past. NEO is mathematically impossible to confiscate by anyone who does not know the private key.
Many cryptocurrencies are proof of work, which means the miners have to solve a hash function for the block to be considered valid. NEO is different in that it is proof-of-stake, a consensus algorithm which validates blocks by voting from nodes, the amount of voting power determined by the number of coins held. Proof-of-stake can allow very high transaction throughput with very low fees.
The official coin of the NEO ecosystem is NEO itself. However, there are unofficial coins built on top of NEO Smart Contracts, called NEO 'tokens'. Tokens are address to balance mappings which store their values in a smart contract. Some tokens are fungible, which means monetarily interchangeable - one dollar can be interchanged with any other dollar. Other tokens are individually unique and non-fungible.
Smart Contracts are code scripts stored on the blockchain which execute when their conditions are met. NEO Smart Contracts are Turing Complete, which means they can perform all of the functions of a computer language, and even have their own programming language called Solidity. The most basic Smart Contract is an "IF-THEN" - IF some condition has been met, THEN do something.
Most NEO trading is done by buying and selling coins directly by individual investors. However, there are cryptocurrency funds listed on stock markets. A Cryptocurrency Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) holds assets in single cryptocurrencies or a basket of them. It may be more convenient to buy into one basket fund instead of manually managing dozens of different cryptos and their respective wallets. In the case of NEO, it is probable some Cryptocurrency ETFs are holding it.
Hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands for a NEO coin may seem speculative, but NEO's high is already over a hundred dollars. NEO started out at practically nothing and rose in a parabolic curve to it's high almost a thousand times higher than the starting price. $1000 is only six times higher than the all time high. If the long term trend continues, NEO could reach new highs orders of magnitude greater.
A traditional proof-of-work cryptocurrency generates new blocks in time intervals, each new block connected to the previous. Each block holds a limited number of transactions, and a certain number of blocks must be connected for the transaction to be secure. NEO is different, using a blockchain maintained by proof-of-stake instead of a proof-of-work, where the validity is determined by stakeholders and not cryptographic proofs. Because of this, NEO's transaction time is almost instantaneous.
A traditional proof-of-work cryptocurrency can include a transaction on the latest block in the blockchain. However, in a totally decentralized system, a transaction is not irreversible until a certain number of blocks are added ahead of it on the blockchain, when the network has reached a consensus. NEO transactions are irreversible from the start, because voting of stakeholders determines validity. Thus, there is no "number of confirmations" to wait for - it is near instantaneous.
In cryptocurrencies where transactions must be paid for, the transaction fee is the cost of having transaction data included in blocks added to the blockchain permanent record, which fluctuates under market supply and demand. NEO is different, in that in theory transaction costs are sponsored by node hosts, and thus would be completely free and "feeless". However, to prevent spam transactions from overwhelming the network, some transactions have a cost of a few pennies.
Is NEO a blockchain? NEO transactions are records of balances moved amongst addresses. Blocks are groups of up to 500 NEO transactions for the purpose of easier verification and sharing accross the network. New blocks are generated at a fixed time interval of 15 seconds. Each block is connected to the one chronologically preceeding it by a cryptographic hash. Once a block has been verified, it is distibuted to the other nodes as a peer-to-peer shared file.
A NEO address is a sequence of characters associated with a balance of NEO coins on the blockchain. Cryptographically, an address is just a Public Key, which is generated from a Private Key. Anyone with a Private Key can "sign" a transaction for a corresponding Public Key. Anyone with a Public Key can verify a signature. Signing a transaction approves a transfer of value at the current address to a different address.
The NEO network is a completely decentralized connection of peer-to-peer nodes, which process transactions and record them on the blockchain. Anyone anywhere with internet and a computer can join the NEO network by running a node. Any node can process transactions into blocks, which are added to the final blockchain by consensus of the network as a whole. Voting power is determined by elected nodes, which are chosen by stakeholders (owners of tokens).