This week, NEO, an open-source blockchain platform based in China, announced “a partnership to build an open cross-chain platform and establish the foundation for next-gen Internet.” Both NEO and Ontology were founded by Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang. 

Interoperability is significant in world of blockchain because the future of the distributed web lies in the ability of blockchain networks to interact and integrate with each other. This is the concept of Blockchain interoperability.
In its statement, NEO outlined the vision for the partnership with Ontology:

  • Eco-friendly approach to member chains: Specifically designed for cross-chain synchronization, the protocol will neither issue tokens nor include a dedicated smart contract system to protect member chains from cannibalization
  • Low barrier of entry: Built to facilitate seamless technical integration, no protocol layer development or modification are necessary for existing blockchain projects
  • Transactional atomicity: The protocol aims to achieve finality and atomicity in cross-chain transactions with a particular focus on cross-chain smart contract interactions to expand the scope of decentralized applications.
  • Enhanced security: A sophisticated set of mechanisms built on the technical and operational level will be carefully implemented to optimize security for cross-chain transactions and interactions.”

In this interview with Forkast.News, NEO CEO Da Hongfei explains the thinking:

Forkast.News: Ontology was spun out of NEO, both companies founded by the same team. What happened initially when the two projects separated, and what does this announcement mean for the (intertwined) fate of the projects?

NEO: From the beginning, NEO and Ontology were founded independently through different means with different purposes. Whereas NEO was founded as a community-driven platform, Ontology has been led by a team of core developers from the beginning. Moreover, NEO’s focus has always been with digital asset while Ontology focus lies with digital identity. However, by leveraging our respective strengths, we hope to become two of the building blocks for next-gen Internet.

Forkast.News: Is this a play preparing for a bigger Chinese movement towards blockchain?

NEO: Our partnership’s goal is not country-specific. Rather, we aim to bridge the gap between blockchain and mainstream economies around the world to advance towards a global network. 

Forkast.News: What is the plan for Ontology related to other blockchains?

NEO: Through our partnership, NEO and Ontology are pioneering a new way of working by jointly developing a protocol-agnostic solution. In the future, we hope that our working model will inspire other blockchain companies to join us in building the foundation for next-gen Internet.

Forkast.News: Which existing or planned projects will benefit from this partnership the most?

NEO: I strongly believe that cooperation benefits all parties involved, so it’s difficult to say who will benefit the most. Overall, I am confident that our partnership will benefit the entire blockchain industry by introducing not only a new model of interoperability, but also a new way of working and collaborating. 

Forkast.News: Does this enable NEO to go a bit more global, as Ontology focuses on inter-chain identity management?

NEO: Through this partnership, we will leverage NEO and Ontology’s leading capabilities in digital assets and digital identity to build an interoperable solution that will accelerate the realization of a global network of blockchains.

Forkast.News: Would interoperability bridge between NEO and Ontology in the future enable non-NEO DApps to integrate with NEO DApps, expanding reach and increasing user base?

NEO: While it’s a bit early to imagine all the kinds of cross-chain interactions that can occur, our cross-chain protocol will support smart contract integration and interactions such as cross-chain asset transfers. Moving forward, we hope to enable blockchain interactions that were previously thought to be unimaginable as part of our commitment to translating visions into reality.

NEO and Ontology say they will release a white paper regarding the interoperability solution in Q3 before the platform goes live in Q4.