Bad wallet UX no more! Alongside a few crypto projects, the world’s largest payment network is about to change crypto wallets with account abstraction.
Crypto wallets for a while have been criticised for being unwieldy, and are due for a makeover ASAP.
A few crypto players are making this makeover happen, and are still fighting over what to call it – account abstraction, or EIP-4337.
Account abstraction or EIP-4337 also has another name. As Argent co founder and CEO Itamar Lesuisse calls it a ‘smart wallet’, referring to the process “as simple as that.”
The account abstraction movement seeks to remake crypto wallets easier and smarter to use, and has been in the works since 2016 with Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP)-86.
Account abstraction aims to change the existing wallet standard, called Externally Owned Accounts or EOAs (used by Metamask), to a smart-contract based one. As of now, you’d need to sign your EOA wallet each and every time you make a transaction.
Why switch to account abstraction?
Beyond saving time, switching to account abstraction makes it safer to conduct transactions. With EOAs, there’s a lot of unique demands that need to be considered for private key management.
Account abstraction also makes crypto wallets more flexible. Instead of making individual transactions at a time, account abstraction can also bundle all of these transactions in one go, so you’d be able to perform 10 different transactions in just one click.
Account abstraction also makes room for newer developments in crypto wallets.
We may see features like recurring payments, and even recovering lost private keys.
Argent, a crypto firm that’s at the head of the account abstraction movement, has already been working on account abstraction technology. In 2018, they launched a way for people to recover their lost private keys through their friends or family members through a method called social recovery.
As Lesuisse puts it, referring to account abstraction, “suddenly, there was a piece of software that could do stuff for us to make it easier to transfer or make it more secure.”
With smart wallets that feature account abstraction, we can program our money and accounts to do what needs to be done, only automated, efficient, and without much third-party intervention.
Visa joins the smart wallet movement
As smart wallets boast account abstraction, payments giant Visa has jumped on the trend.
In a new report published by Visa on self-custodial crypto wallets, Visa observes that Ethereum has an area that it lacks in.
Writing that “Ethereum is designed for push payments”, according to Visa, Ethereum’s current system can only efficiently make manual payments made by the account holder, rather than automated “pull payments”, which are seen as more intuitive.
With smart wallets, Ethereum can enter the era of offering these programmable pull payments, and can provide an easier, streamlined payments system as we typically use money today in the bank.
“It’s like blockchains took all these sensibilities away that we were fully expecting and using non-stop in the world. Blockchain sort of ripped off all that from the developer’s toolbox,” notes StarkWare co-founder and CEO Uri Kolodny. “Account abstraction is saying, ‘guys, can we please have those very sensible tools back in our hands?’”
Kolodny’s team built StarkNet, an Ethereum layer-2 solution that launched a wallet browser extension in partnership with Argent, called Argent X. Visa has also turned to StarkNet to experiment with ‘delegable accounts’, a new kind of account contract that leverages account abstraction technology to bring auto payments to Ethereum.
Delegable accounts, according to Visa’s research, integrate auto-payment features into a crypto wallet that can come with limits such as how frequent payments can be made, and how much can be pulled from a wallet.
Beyond these payments features, Lesuisse adds that Visa’s research can bring for possible use of delegable accounts in on-chain gaming. “With account abstraction, you can program what we call a ‘session key’ and say, ‘hey, I will let that game sign for me for the next hour,” describes Lesuisse for delegable accounts.
It’s only in early development, but account abstraction – and smart wallets – can usher in a whole new era of payments.