Consensus: Singapore took place from the 19th to 20th of September, 2018. Powered by Coindesk, the event featured leading figures from the blockchain industry, who shared their insights, expertise, and information on blockchain technology.
Among these speakers were Da Hongfei, Founder of NEO, and Virgil Griffith, Special Projects Lead at the Ethereum Foundation. The two leaders were a part of a panel, dubbed “Ethereum meets NEO”, moderated by Director of Research at Coindesk, Nolan Bauerle.
Developer Community Projects
Blockchain platforms provide developers, from a vast array of backgrounds, the opportunity to innovate and create a series of disruptive applications. Both NEO and Ethereum have extensive communities of developers building on their platforms. Griffith mentioned that most of their developers are building financial applications, with their first “killer app” being the ICO. He also noted that there is a growing interest in insurance applications and even adult entertainment projects.
Similar projects are present on the NEO blockchain, according to Hongfei. One of their key projects being NEX, a platform for high performance decentralized exchange and payments. Hongfei also mentioned that NEO is encouraging developers to venture into gaming – an industry that is projected to greatly benefit from blockchain technology.
When asked if Ethereum’s native language serves as a limitation to the platform, Griffith assured it wasn’t – especially when one considers both sides of the situation. He explained that the same way there are specific languages for certain applications (e.g. SQL for Databases, and R for Statistics) is how one can view Ethereum’s own.
Levels of Decentralisation
Bauerle moved the conversation to decentralisation, where it appears that Ethereum and NEO differ in philosophy. NEO has received criticism regarding its level of decentralisation — or, to some, it’s lack of it. Hongfei rationalised this, explaining that NEO is more focused on presenting blockchain technology that is compliant with regulations and compatible with the current business world. Whereas Ethereum is said to be on an opposite spectrum, rallying for total decentralisation that is censorship resistant and fully in favor of the users. Hongfei boiled this difference down to simply, a “different design philosophy” where their opposing views actually serve as a balance in the blockchain industry.
Hongfei added that he believes that the reason why blockchain platforms remain “not that decentralized” is because of the fact that blockchain technology is still developing – in his words it is “not mature”. Changes occur on a regular basis, with there being constant upgrades to protocol.
Authentication and Identity
The issue of authentication was soon brought up, with Bauerle highlighting that Ethereum’s major form of security is the private key — a key every user must have when transacting digital currencies. Private keys do not reveal identity. But NEO appears to have implemented a public key infrastructure – technology that is necessary for the management of digital certificates. Hongfei mentioned that this move was important as NEO wants to be used in the “real business world” — where authenticity and verified identity is of the utmost importance.
Griffith mentioned that Ethereum is more inspired by the Internet, where things are kept simple. This was in reference to the concept of identity. But he did say that there will, eventually, be a form of identity layer on Ethereum. While both decisions have respective effects on scalability — especially with regard to how many transactions can be passed within a certain period of time — it was found that both platforms have found what works for them.
Ideally, that is what blockchain technology is all about. Every platform has its own goal and focus on how it intends to use this next-level technology that stands to transform the world. While ideals may differ, the one thing that can be agreed upon is that this technology is necessary. Ethereum and NEO are changing the world in their respective ways, and though they have differences, there is a lot to be learned from the both of them. Upcoming blockchain developers can learn a lot from the respect and collaborative beliefs these leaders have for one another within the industry. It is this spirit that will take the industry to greater heights.
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