The NEM developers work under pseudonyms. NEM was developed by a BitcoinTalk user who posted under the username UtopianFuture who was inspired by Nxt to create their own platform. The initial plan for NEM was to create a fork of NXT, but this was eventually dismissed in favor of a developing a new codebase from the the ground up. Starting on January 19, 2014, an open call for participation began on the Bitcointalk forum to create a community-oriented cryptocurrency from the ground up.
On 26 January 2018, Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, was the victim of a massive hack resulting in a loss of 523 mln NEM coins, worth approximately $534 mln. The hack only involved NEM. Because the security breach was caused by the lack of strong security measures of Coincheck, the NEM development team refused to conduct a hard fork. Instead NEM is creating an automated tagging system. This automated system will follow the money and tag any account that receives tainted money.