Give credit where credit is due. The crypto space owes a lot of its growth to Ethereum. As the pioneering smart contract platform, Ethereum has empowered hundreds of ventures to become blockchain players. According to the State of Dapps, there are now over 1,380 decentralized applications running on the platform. There are also hundreds of ERC20 tokens currently being traded across various crypto exchanges.
However, for some developers, Ethereum is already showing its “age.” It may have been the platform of choice for most dapp developers, but the crypto space is now faced with new demands that Ethereum doesn’t readily meet out-of-the-box. Perhaps most glaringly is the growing need for speed and scalability. Last December, the surge in transactions from the sudden popularity of blockchain-based virtual game CryptoKitties caused bottlenecks on the Ethereum network affecting the performance of all the other dapps running on the platform.
Ethereum has yet to fully address this. So, rather than develop on the platform, an increasing number of developers are now willing to try out alternatives. Among these preferred replacements is NEO – a smart contract platform that allows developers to build their own dapps, create their own tokens, and launch their own initial coin offerings (ICOs). NEO adoption is already gaining traction with over 20 ICOs of NEO-based tokens scheduled this year.
While both serve similar functions, NEO and Ethereum differ in several details. These differences create certain advantages of one over the other depending on the users’ needs. For example, upcoming NEO-based sentiment analysis platform Senno, carefully considered its options in its choice of platform.
Cofounder and CTO Rudy Zakuto explains, “NEO currently supports higher number of transactions per second which makes it more mature to handle large scale projects. It places particular emphasis on staying regulatory compliant, and we believe that emerging markets (such as China) will choose to adopt an infrastructure that supports regulation enforcement, in such case, NEO would be a natural leading candidate. In addition, NEO’s smart contracts can be written in mainstream programming languages like C#, Python and Java, making it easier for third- party developers to participate and contribute their coding capabilities to Senno’s eco-system.”
Here are five areas that developers typically factor in their choice concerning which platform to use.
1 – Speed and Scalability
Clearly, among the issues that have let other platforms challenge Ethereum’s dominance are speed and scalability. Currently, Ethereum is able to support 7 to 15 transactions per second. Many developers feel stymied by this. If their dapps and services are to grow, they need a faster network that’s able to process more transactions quickly.
Ethereum is scheduled to address this by switching its consensus algorithm from its current proof-of-work consensus to proof-of-stake and implementing sharding. The fork is now ready for review but has yet to be executed. NEO, on the other hand, already uses an improved proof-of-stake consensus algorithm called delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance (dBFT). The network has a theoretical limit of 10,000 transactions a second.
2 – Smart Contract Code
3 – Vision
Ethereum’s positioning is quite straightforward – it envisions itself to be a development platform for blockchain-based applications. NEO, on the other hand, is focused on creating a “smart economy” and drive modern business through blockchain by digitizing assets through digital identity and tokenization.
Perhaps one knock against NEO is its current lack of true decentralization. The nodes that currently support the network are controlled by the NEO team. Some projects prefer platforms where the network isn’t controlled by a single entity. As such, they may find Ethereum more fitting if true decentralization is core to their objectives.
Ethereum is considered highly decentralized since the nodes that support its network is more geographically distributed and can be found in smaller networks and even on individual computers. It is even considered more decentralized than Bitcoin where majority of nodes are found in large data centers.
4 – Team and Community
Ethereum is currently being supported by the Ethereum Foundation. The Foundation council is led by Ethereum’s creator Vitalik Buterin. Supporters, which include startups, academic institutions, and large enterprises, also formed the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance to further promote the use of the platform across various spaces and industries.
Initially known as AntShares, NEO is a China-based project. It was founded by Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang. The two are also behind Onchain – a blockchain project focused on financial and business-focused applications which complements the NEO platform. NEO has already garnered support from several major Chinese entities including e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Dedicated teams and supportive communities ensure that the respective blockchains. Projects would do well banking on technologies that have significant backing and support.
5 – Quantum Computing-Proof
A growing concern in the crypto space is quantum computing. Quantum computers are slated to outperform today’s supercomputers which threatens the security of the RSA and ECC-based cryptographic techniques used to secure most blockchain data. When quantum computers eventually become accessible, blockchains that don’t implement quantum-resistant mechanism will be at risk of being unraveled. Developers have to keep this in mind for future-proofing.
Currently, Ethereum doesn’t use quantum secure cryptography. However, its founder, Buterin, has already acknowledged this concern and put forward ideas on how to make Ethereum quantum-resistant. NEO has quantum-resistance in the pipeline on the onset through NeoQS. The lattice-based mechanism is considered to be among the reliable ways since there’s no available quantum algorithm that could break down such cryptography yet.
A Tough Choice?
Choosing a blockchain platform is a critical decision for most ventures. Not only can a platform can readily determine the constraints and possibilities for projects that use it but transitioning to a different platform can also be a massive and difficult undertaking when done later.
Ethereum’s scalability continues to be one of the major reasons why developers are now entertaining the use of other platforms. Though hopefully, the changes that are set to address the network’s speed and scalability get released soon. Ethereum still offers a proven track record for being a reliable platform despite these concerns. It has a solid team and a global community that guarantees continued support for the blockchain.
Still, it’s only reasonable for projects to strike while ICOs are still hot. They would do well considering platforms which allow developers to maximize varied feature sets and be readily functional through lower development barriers. These platforms have their own advocates but it would still be up to the venture to examine their respective use cases and see which platform would be the best fit.