Ethereum Debate Over Account Abstraction

Account abstraction – recently embraced by Visa – could make Ethereum wallets more user-friendly.

Ethereum Debate Over Account Abstraction

The blockchain industry is increasingly recognizing that human error is inevitable, which makes it difficult to push crypto into the mainstream without fail-safes and greater ease of use. Among these innovations is a concept known as "Account Abstraction."

In Account Abstraction (AA), certain validity rules are set up to execute crypto transactions using smart contracts. As a result of AA, users will no longer be required to sign off on every transaction using their private keys.

“We're going to be at a point in the future where using an Ethereum account, it's going to be just as simple as using a bank,” said Kristof Gazso, a co-author for an Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) on AA. “People won't have to make that trade off of like, ‘Hey, you know, I like decentralization, but also, it's a pain in the ass to use Ethereum.’”

The goal of AA is for Ethereum to become as usable as a traditional fiat bank account so that users can conduct transactions more easily, program automatic bill payments, etc.

EOAs and CAs on Ethereum

On Ethereum, users have the ability to create two types of accounts:

  • External Owned Accounts (EOA), in which users are given a pair of keys: a public and a private key. It’s a typical account type, in which users use wallet providers such as MetaMask and Coinbase.
  • Contract Accounts (CA) better known as “smart contracts.”

Ethereum's two account types initiate transactions differently.

Account Abstraction: how does it work?

By merging EOAs with CAs, Account Abstraction addresses the shortcomings of EOAs and provides users with a way to create user accounts that include fail-safe mechanisms as well as other special features for verifying transactions.

A blog post by Ethereum's co-founder Vitalik Buterin in 2021 stated that "instead of smart contract code just being used to implement the logic of applications, it would also be utilized to implement the verification logic (nonces, signatures...) of individual users' wallets."

Under account abstraction, a social recovery system may be incorporated into the account so that several users - each with their own private key - may be able to restore access to the account if the owner loses access to it.

According to Gazso, 2023 will be "the year for Account Abstraction," a topic that is currently being debated within the ecosystem.

In Addition, Visa announced last month that it would eventually use Account Abstraction in order to deploy automatic payments with StarkNet infrastructure. Bills could be paid automatically on the blockchain, just like bank accounts.

Layer 2s on Ethereum are leading the way to natively integrate AA. StarkWare, the company behind StarkNet, has already implemented Account Abstraction.Other firms, such as Gnosis Chain, are considering integrating Account Abstraction into their systems.

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