Amid US-China Tech War, Can Neo’s DeFi Stack Rival Ethereum’s?

Chinese tech companies were once seen as copycats of their Western peers: Alibaba was a knockoff of eBay and Baidu imitated Google. More recently, Chinese firms like TikTok and Huawei have established such dominant international positions that U.S. authorities have tried to hold them back.

Now, the technological arms race is playing out in the cryptocurrency industry, where one Chinese company is taking on Ethereum, the world’s second-largest blockchain, which U.S.-based developers have used to build semi-automated trading and lending networks under the rubric of decentralized finance, or DeFi.

Neo took aim at DeFi in late September with its launch of a new platform called Flamingo. Da Hongfei, a Neo co-founder, told CoinDesk in an interview that the protocol will eventually provide users with features found on popular Ethereum-based projects like Uniswap, Curve Finance, yearn.finance, and Synthetix, he said.

Flamingo is not simply a product of “copy and paste,” the co-founder said in an interview. “It’s like rebuilding a parallel universe.”

Within a few days of its launch, Flamingo had attracted more than $1.6 billion of collateral locked into the protocol, according to a tweet from its official Twitter account. That was despite unexpected delays in the project’s early days due to “an overwhelming amount of network traffic,” as company officials described it.

The amount represents more than half of the $2.35 billion of crypto collateral locked into Uniswap, the top-ranked DeFi project, according to DeFi Pulse.

Some developers focused on the Ethereum blockchain say Flamingo is little more than a knockoff.

“It’s the first credible, wholesale, blockchain-scale ‘vampire’ attempt,” money market protocol Compound’s founder Robert Leshner tweeted on Sept 27. He described Flamingo as an attempt to “clone and launch” all the popular DeFi projects on Ethereum at the same time.

“The success or failure of the project has extremely…

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