Ethereum Account Abstraction

By bengy | Idle Musings | 15 Feb 2023


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Hmmm, it seems like the pieces are starting to fall together for the mass adoption of crypto wallets. If anyone has used crypto wallets before, it would be a stretch to say that the current state of interacting with blockchains is ANYWHERE close to public adoption. At the heart of all these problems is the central (not centralised...) point of weakness of the public/private keypairs (aka, key/address, private/public)... and more critically in the generation event which is know as your seed. This is the string of random 1/0s that will generate the rest of your keypairs across whatever chain is required, and is better known as your seed phrase of 12-24 words when translated into a human readable format.

Its bad... there is a reason why the general public aren't entrusted with managing this sort of thing in the regular internet. We are crap at keeping secrets, and even worse with remembering what we have done with them... which leads to many people losing access to or having their crypto wallets hijacked. I mean, think about how bad people are with digital security and hygiene... just think of the username/password model of security. Poop... and now we expect people to actually store tangible digital value with those "skills". Nope...

So, one way around this has been the use of hardware wallets such as the Ledger Nano S/X... and that does solve the interaction problem, in that users aren't forever revealing their seeds or keys by trying to copy-paste them everywhere in a digital environment... keeping those crown jewels behind a hardware barrier. However, it still doesn't solve the generation problem... those seeds need to be stored safely and securely... even if it is offline.

Enter account abstraction! There are already two versions of this already out now with Argent (and Argent X on zkSync) and Braavos. I'm most familiar with the Argent version and I have to say that I have been pretty happy so far! When I first played around with Argent, I wasn't really quite sure how it worked and it just seemed like an annoying additional wallet to have to use... but after I understood the rationale behind it, I'm starting to think that these smart contract wallets are really the way forward!

So, behind the scenes... what is going on? Well, the original seed (the "normal" way) is used to create a smart contract... and from then on, THAT (the smart contract) is what is being used to interact with the blockchain! This means that the "address" or your wallet is now a programmable smart contract!

Who cares... well, it means that you can set rules for how the smart contract (vault) interacts! You can set different trusted parties to allow or disallow interactions... even removing the original seeding address if you want! These trusted parties can be hardware devices that have a secure cryptographic chip (most phones and computers), a different smart wallet, an email address.. pretty much anything that can do a 2-FA style verification! Then you could set rules for access... small amounts, 1 signer... large amounts, two or more signers that are geographically removed. Lost access... a majority of the other trusted parties can revoke and anoint new trusted parties.

So, the key development here is that the fiddly bits of key/seed storage and management are removed (abstracted) away from the end user... thus making for a better user experience that is simpler and more logical for most of the non-technical public (and lets not kid ourselves, even if you are technically minded, key management is a pain in the arse!).

I'm pretty excited about this coming development! Crypto will only go mainstream when all the technical jankiness and difficulty is removed from the end-user experience. Account Abstraction.. wow, it makes using crypto wallets just like any other phone app! This is cool!

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Handy Crypto Tools

Ledger Nano S/X: Keep your crypto safe and offline with the leading hardware wallet provider. Not your keys, not your crypto!
Binance: My first choice of centralised exchange, featuring a wide variety of crypto and savings products.
WooX: The centralised version of WooFi. Stake WOO for fee-free trades and free withdrawals!
GMX.io: Decentralised perpetual futures trading on Arbitrum!
Coinbase: If you need a regulated and safe environment to trade, this is the first exchange for most newcomers!
Crypto.com: Mixed feelings, but they have the BEST looking VISA debit card in existence! Seriously, it is beautiful!
CoinList: Access to early investor and crowdsale of vetted and reserached projects.
Cointracking: Automated or manual tracking of crypto for accounting and taxation reports.

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bengy
bengy

I am a Musician (Violinist/Violist) specialising in Early Music living in The Netherlands. I have a background in Mathematics and Physics due to an earlier tertiary level study... and so, I'm still quite interested in Science and Technology related stuff!


Idle Musings
Idle Musings

Shower thoughts about subjects both great and small! Crypto, Society, Governance... What does it mean for Ponies to have Cutie Marks?

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