NEO has skyrocketed in recent weeks, placing it among the world’s top-performing cryptocurrencies and offering further credence to China’s leadership role in the market.

NEO Surges to New Highs

The so-called “Ethereum of China” is up 500% over the past 14 days. At the time of writing, prices were up 13.8% to $49.33, according to CoinMarketCap. That gives NEO a total value of over $2.4 billion, enough for sixth on the global leader board. Only Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash and IOTA are worth more.

Neo’s one-month price chart is illustrated below.

Promise of a Smart Economy

The cryptocurrency formerly known as Antshares is similar to Ethereum, but has notable advantages like advanced languages and the NEO Contract, which supports multiple programming languages. In other words, NEO’s barriers to entry are much smaller for new developers while still supporting the core elements of decentralized transaction and identification.

According to analysts, the cryptocurrency’s biggest advantage lies in its application to the real world. By incorporating digital assets and smart contracts, NEO can potentially integrate into the real economy.

After rebranding from Antshares, NEO has become China’s biggest blockchain infrastructure. The world’s second-largest economy has emerged as a major player in the global cryptocurrency market. Efforts by mainland investors to diversify away from the volatile yuan have made cryptocurrency-as-an-asset an attractive bet. However, participation in this market has been subject to greater scrutiny by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). In particular, the Chinese central bank has issued several warnings about Bitcoin. Earlier in the year, this amounted to a temporary suspension of withdrawals from the country’s three largest Bitcoin exchanges.

Platform of Choice for Chinese ICOs

The growth and widespread adoption of initial coin offerings (ICOs) is shaking up the business world. ICOs have become the funding method of choice for internet companies and are primed to expand rapidly as startups look to offer investors greater value in exchange for money. Whereas Ethereum is the go-to platform for most ICOs, NEO will likely retain its leadership pace for upcoming Chinese ICOs.

ICOs continue to be extremely attractive from the standpoint of investors. Very few assets, if any, can compete with the 1,000% return ICOs generate in under a year.

At the time of writing, the largest ICO return is for Stratis, a blockchain technology company that generated more than 110,000% return in roughly 12 months.