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On the 28th of October, NEO visited Korea for a community meet up in Seoul. The meet up was one of many events recently held by NEO in an effort to bring more developers and blockchain enthusiasts into the NEO community. In attendance was Johnson Zhao, who is the international development director for NEO. We caught up with Johnson to find out what happened at the meet up and ask him about all things NEO.


Dean – NEO News Today: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. You’re the first member of the NEO team we’ve interviewed on NEO News Today, so we’re excited to have you. For those of our readers who don’t know who you are, what is your role at NEO?

Johnson Zhao: I’m actually in transition from Onchain to NEO. My new role is international development director for NEO.

Dean: How long have you been involved in blockchain technology, and how did you come to join Onchain / NEO?

Johnson: I joined Onchain almost a year ago, and I’ve been into blockchain for almost two years. I started off in the Ethereum community, and obviously Antshares in China at that time was big, but I got into Onchain first.

I’m not a coder, and whilst I can understand the technology in theory I’m not into developing projects. I was in financial services for over 10 years before I joined this new field, so my initial interest was to bring blockchain to all the sectors I was familiar with. For example, smart contracts for anti-money laundering or KYC.

Dean: NEO visited Seoul on the weekend for a community meet up. NEO enthusiasts would love to hear a brief report of what happened at the event.

Johnson: The first speaker was Da Hongfei, and he started with a story about some people we ran into in a burger restaurant who happened to be Bitcoin and NEO fans. They recognised Hongfei and had a photo. Those two boys were from Australia, and they were travelling in Seoul.

Da Hongfei with Australian NEO fans

Then he went through NEO’s history, how we went through the ICOs and how we are right now in market cap, in Slack, in Reddit, how our coding style is and how many forks on GitHub we have. 

Hongfei then discussed some community contributions such as the NEON wallet, NeoTracker.io and Morpheus, and also multi language documents. He also mentioned that in the future for community governance there will be the NEO Council, the NEO China team, City of Zion and more to come.

He then spoke about Red Pulse, one of the first token projects on NEO, which we call the ‘Bloomberg’ of blockchain, and also Qlink, which is a decentralised mobile network. A few more projects integrating with NEO that are very important to emphasise are Elastos, which is a blockchain powered internet, HPB (high performance blockchain) using NeoContract, and also Bancor and Loopring currency protocols.

Following this he ran through our roadmaps for Q4 and Q1 next year.

Hongfei went on to share with the community some information about Onchain. Most people might know, but Onchain is a for-profit VC backed company, and NEO is a non-profit community project.

Lastly, he shared the “Giveback Plan”. The program allows our seed round, ICO1 and ICO2 to receive a ‘giveback’ based on the token sale, the contribution period, and the RMB value at that time. I think we’re the first ones to do it. [An official announcement was made by NEO on the Sponsor Giveback Plan, which you can read about here]

Other speakers were Tony Tao, Secretary-General, NEO Council Secretariat, also speakers from Red Pulse and Qlink, and a higher graduate Peking University student, Miles Graham, who is contributing to the NEO community. He shared a bit about his view as a comparatively new person to the space on different markets in China and Korea and so on.

I can compile some of the talking points and slides from these presentations to make available to your readers.

[These documents can be accessed here.]

Left to right. Ryan (BPK), Johnson Zhao (NEO), Tony Gu (Qlink), Susan Zhou (Qlink), Da Hongfei (NEO), Jinwoo (BPK), Jonathan Ha (Red Pulse), Miles Graham (NEO)

Dean: I think the number of events held by NEO in the form of development workshops and community meet ups is really encouraging to NEO enthusiasts. The majority of these events are held in Asia at the moment, but do you have plans to expand these more throughout the West?

Johnson: You know, during the Seoul meet up, there were more than just Koreans. There were Americans, Japanese and Swedish, and we ran into the Australian fans. But Malcolm is going to cover a lot more of Europe because of his natural linguistic connection and also his VISA convenience. We have a global plan, but we have limited hands and resources.

Dean: You were joined by both Red Pulse and Qlink at the Seoul meet up, who are both building their applications on NEO. And as you mentioned, other projects like Elastos, HPB and Bancor are integrating with NEO also. It must be encouraging to see such ambitious projects turning to NEO as their platform of choice. How do these relationships usually begin? Is NEO actively seeking projects to work with, or are you finding more developers are bringing their ideas to you?

Johnson: Good question. I think if you’re in the industry for long enough – long not meaning five to ten years, there is no ten year history – maybe even just a couple of months, you understand how people interact. People find each other. Sometimes we seek projects. Sometimes projects come to us.

During our visit to Seoul recently we also spoke to quite a few promising projects. Solid people who are very cautious and have ambitious plans. So they aren’t announcing anything, but I can see in those Korean people that they are very interested in NEO and would like to do something through us. I’m sorry I cannot share details right now because they have not decided anything yet, but the conversation is always open.

We also have Red Pulse who has accomplished something upon NEO. So Red Pulse is literally recommending NEO to everyone because they experienced how smoothly it went through.

Dean: If you were to pick one thing that you were most excited about on the NEO roadmap, what would that be?

Johnson: The cross chain protocol and the decentralised exchange, at least for the short term. Short term meaning within one year.

Dean: I like asking this of everyone close to the NEO project, but what is your personal vision for NEO five years from now?

Johnson: Honestly, five years is a long time. I think if you look at bio-scentific development and chips, everything is not very predictable. Even if you look at machine learning in Google AlphaGo, they’re progressing in a way you cannot believe because the algorithm teaches itself a lot faster than before the first shock. I think it’s an unstoppable trend that everything is going digital. And hopefully onto blockchain to be irreversible and trusted. I think in general, that’s the trend. I can’t estimate how big NEO will be, or how big Bitcoin or Ethereum will be.

But I think that conceptually, the core consensus algorithm is still progressing and evolving, and the blockchain performance is going to be even better than it already is. We’ll be able to process even more transactions than we can currently.

As for real life use cases, I can only say please expect more in the months to come. There could be more projects coming up that can be integrated with NEO, that could be very fundamental for the future, and more interest in a killer app.

Dean: Thank you so much for your time, and we’re all very excited to see what NEO has in store for the future!