Neo, the Ethereum Competitor from China. How does it stack up?

Some friends have asked me for my thoughts, I admit I haven’t paid much attention to Neo myself but I am happier with this project, the team, architecture, planning and thought that has gone into it.

First of all, Neo, in my opinion has the technical superiority and is the better and faster coin to use everyday.  It has similar features such as the digital asset/smart contract option and API.   Neo is based on C# basically the fastest and most efficient programming language.  Ethereum is based on my arch nemesis, Java which I’ve always found to be efficient, slow, buggy and riddled with security issues (which is one thing that makes me very nervous about major bugs or hacks impacting the Ethereum network and blockchain in the future).

My belief is that because Neo is seen as Chinese based that it has scared away investors and this is the only reason why we see Ethereum as #2 or #3 in terms of market cap.  Neo is not far behind and if more attention and awareness shifts towards it I believe it’s only a matter of time before it overtakes Ethereum.

I’ve also seen much more evidence that the Neo team cares about the community by actively participating in discussions.  By comparison I can see endless complaints about issues that the ETH community has on their own forums with seemingly no response from the team.  Another factor is that the NEO team seems to be a professional and experienced team.  The ETH founder is only 18-years old and originally from Russia (nothing against Russia I am long there and we have many wonderful clients from there and around the world!).  I am highlighting that both teams are overseas but the fact that Neo is entirely Chinese and based inside China is probably the stumbling block for its growth.

What is wrong with Neo?

One big issue that I believe will be a huge problem is the fact that Neo is not divisible.  You cannot buy a fraction of a Neo.  This will be a huge problem even at it’s current value of $108 USD.  What if you want to buy a bag of chips or a USB stick?  It completely fails as a currency even though it’s otherwise superior to Ethereum.  How about if you want to invest in an ICO and you want to send .5 Neo?  No, not going to happen so Neo has set itself on the path to self-destruction in my opinion.  I’m very disappointed as otherwise it has done everything much better than Ethereum but shoots itself in the foot over the inability to ever be a real currency or used in daily transactions and this will only worse as the value increases.   This in itself almost makes the currency fail and is major stumbling block.  I also take issue with Neo’s GAS which will become another huge issue just like Ethereum, it is confusing and annoying.  See my blog post about how a $5 transaction in ETH cost me over $105 in gas fees!

Don’t get me wrong on this issue, I am long China, but with all the news coming out of China I believe it scares people away from this currency.  This aspects actually draws me towards it, in China there is such high regulation that the kind of scams I see many other developers pull is much harder to do even compared to Japan.

I would be all over Neo if the coin was divisible.

Would I invest in Neo?

Not at these levels, but I also won’t buy more Ethereum for similar reasons.  I do think Neo is a much better implementation of the Ethereum concept minus one huge issue with the currency division not being possible.

The hype on this digital asset/smart contract sounds great but in practice I am strongly against directly mixing currency and other assets in the same technology especially after Ethereum’s parity issue (we’ve seen nothing yet and I believe most of these smart assets will experience huge issues in the future).

Neo could still very well be an Ethereum killer but suffers from GAS and non-divisible currency.

Ethereum High Transaction Fees/Gas, Tokens and Exchanges = Bad Investment

Unlike many other coins with low withdraw fees and low transaction fees, Ethereum based ERC20 tokens are horribly expensive.  If you don’t spend a good amount on them you could actually be unable to purchase any due to the “high gas and transaction fees” of Ethereum, something that has been a huge problem.  Even Bitcoin is not as bad in the sense that at least you can just send a maximum amount and not worry about this ridiculous “gas calculation fee” which make Ethereum transactions more difficult and less predictable, and sometimes impossible due to randomly expensive gas prices.  You shouldn’t have to be a mathematician or programmer to figure out how to send Ethereum.  Unlike more simple, faster and easier to use currencies such as even Litecoin that just work.

Let’s give an example test of what happens if you send .1 Ethereum to an exchange and what it costs you.

I sent about .1 ETH to an exchange (about $100 USD) and the transaction fee was about $2.34.

I’ll show you what I mean and part of this is Binance but not exactly, their ERC20 Tokens have a high fee because they are expensive to send!  Compare this to a small amount of XLM I bought and sold.

Here is a good example of BAT I purchased 31 of them.  When I withdrew I only received 9.969!

Another example is SNT I purchased 69 but only received 36.931!

I already have XLM but to illustrate the difference see how much better it is to buy non ERC20 tokens, you lose so much value in sending ETH and then sending them back to your wallet.

I bought 44 XLM (Stellar Lumens) and was able to withdraw and receive 43.946!  Talk about low withdrawal fees.  It’s not Binance trying to rip us off but it comes down the high gas fees for these ERC20 Ethereum based tokens.  Unless you are buying a minimum of hundreds of thousands of these tokens they are simply not worth it.  This is strong disincentive for many to add to their position vs the low fees of buying other non ERC20 tokens.  I’ll go so far as to say Ethereum is disrupting trade with their high fees, not only this but ERC20 tokens will not grow for long with these kinds of ridiculous fees.  If the token/currency cannot be easily, quickly and affordably traded they will probably not have a strong future once others catch on.

Buying ERC20 tokens on Binance

Binance-Purchase-VS-WithdrawalFees

Withdrawing ERC20 tokens on Binance see how little you actually get because of high Ethereum transaction/gas fees!

BinanceWithDrawalvsBuyAmount

Some tokens get trapped look at what happened to my QSP!

I cannot withdraw it or sell it so it’s stuck in Binance unless the value goes up.

The reason is that Binance’s minimum is 60 QSP due to high transaction fees.

I cannot sell it because the minimum sell on Binance for this coin is 0.02 ETH.

Again this is all down to high transaction fees on these tokens making it impossible.

Binance-QSP-Trapped

How about trying to buy KIN a new ERC20 Coin?  I just want a few thousand of them no problem right?

Me: Good day dear sir! I’d like to buy 5959 KIN the hot new ERC20 token!

Bancor teller: Yes sir that will cost you 0.004 ETH.  Let me directly access your Ethereum wallet (promise not to take any of your coins) and process this transaction.

Screenshot at 2018-01-10 13-44-25

Me: No problem OK I see the transaction request………

Me: Wait……..I am just trying to pay you 0.004 ETH or about $5.15 but the Gas/Transaction Fee is $103.45 or 0.080354 ETH.  Sorry this is ridiculous but I’m not paying it and I won’t buy any ERC20 tokens today.

Screenshot at 2018-01-10 13-48-55

Ethereum and its tokens are conning people out of money and may lead to its own implosion and have a huge impact on ICOs

As we can see above this is just one big problem with Ethereum aside from security, slow transactions and being extremely user unfriendly it’s also unfriendly to your bank account.  I predict in the future this will have a massive and negative impact on the crypto industry.  As more people find that these tokens are essentially wasted money due to high fees they will eventually start investing in and using proper currencies that work and that have fair fees and higher transaction speed.

Ethereum’s Issues Stem From the Basics

Ethereum is certainly #2 in the market capitalization only second to Bitcoin but it doesn’t mean it’s as easy to use.  In fact I suspect my recent experience is what is keeping it from rising, Ethereum makes me nervous and reluctant to use it everyday. As someone who has used the client’s/wallets for both I find Ethereum’s is cumbersome and at times impossible to use, thus preventing the user from using it to do any transactions at all.

Imagine if a simple eTransfer or Wire from your bank took over a week to initiate?  That’s way too long and beyond the purpose of the infamous but in practice non-realtime transactions in the cryptoworld.

I spent nearly a week syncing 4 months of blocks!

I needed to do a transaction in Ethereum and opened up my Ethereum Client which slowed my whole computer down and ultimately wouldn’t update past a certain point.

I consider myself an above average user who is good at troubleshooting issues.

I updated to the latest Ethereum client and that still didn’t fix it.

Some users suggest deleting the “chaindata” folder and that didn’t fix it.

Eventually I decided to do delete the whole “Ethereum Wallet” folder (never do this without backing up your keystore files safely).  Also be aware that this folder “Ethereum Wallet” is not where your keys/wallet data are stored.  In Linux they are stored in “~/.ethereum/keystore”which is very misleading when you have a “~/.config/Ethereum\ Wallet” (which is not where your wallet data or keys are stored).  I stress this because I came across many who had sworn off the Ethereum Coin and team because of this confusion where they lost their keys and ultimately their investment and coins.

The solution was to delete “~/.config/Ethereum\ Wallet” but the fun didn’t stop there.  It was updating so slow through the missing blocks that it felt like I was mining the entire blockchaining (you could literally count 1 by 1 as it was processing or sometimes it would take minutes on a single block).  I’ve been able to sync the whole Bitcoin or Litecoin Blockchain more quickly and without or much impact on my computer.

I decided to switch the chaindata for Ethereum to SSD it did speed things up but not significantly and still took about a day to catch up and my computer still did slow down.

What I Learned About Ethereum

For all of its features I think the team is out of touch with getting the basics right first, as evidenced by the “Parity” fiasco where through no fault of the users people have essentially lost or have 160M worth of Ethereum coins frozen and lost presumably forever.  I have never seen this with another major coin.

Nor have I seen or experienced the confusion on basics of why their client is so complex.  Why does it use another program geth to sync the data?  Why are there so many different choices, fast sync (which didn’t help speed things up for me), a MIST client and so many different confusing and unnecessary choices and complexity?

I like how I can just download the Bitcoin client or Litecoin client and it works simply, there’s no guessing or confusion.

When it comes down to it, if someone with my background is having to troubleshoot and it slows me down from doing transactions, or I fear my coins could randomly be lost it doesn’t bold well for Ethereum’s future.  I don’t mind leaving other wallets running but Ethereum just takes too much computing with SSH so it’s not practical.  I will consider Ethereum a wise investment with some risks I’ve highlighted above but for any cryptocurrency to truly be accepted and successful it must be secure, fast, reliable and easy to use (something which most cryptocurrencies still fail at if not for the reason that you require the whole blockchain to keep your money in your own possession or have to rely on dangerous uninsured third party exchanges or services that are often hacked).

As we can see below this is not a sustainable practice for cryptocurrency going forward and I will be posting more about how I think the future of crypto will be significantly different than we currently see.

Screenshot-Ethereum Wallet-19