Account abstraction: the miracle solution for the general public?
Subscribe to our smart subscription to read this report in full
Do you know "Rules", an NFT card game that allows you to financially support your favourite rapper? This project launched in 2022 by the YouTube channel "The Rules" is a model of its kind in terms of the democratisation of blockchain technology. And why is that? Quite simply because you don't even know the game works with it.
Unlike many blockchain experiments:
- No need to create a wallet.
- No need to remember a "seed phrase" or recovery phrase.
- No need to hold cryptocurrencies.
Just sign up with a username and password, just like on any traditional website. Transactions, based on the blockchain, are managed in the background, simplifying the experience for the user. NFT cards can be purchased by credit card and exchanged between fans directly on the site, without requiring any knowledge of cryptocurrencies.
This simplified approach borrows the benefits of blockchain, while avoiding its complexities. "If we manage to retain the notion of digital ownership while erasing the obstacles of traditional Web3 onboarding, then I think we'll have won," stresses Constantin Garreau, head of the Stables game developed by the PMU group. "The experience has to be as easy as signing up via your Google account," he insists.
Rules is obviously not the only application to have opted for such a system. French unicorn Sorare, which is one of the world leaders in sports and NFT cards, has also deployed a similar system. The only difference with Rules is that Sorare is developed on a blockchain specially designed for its game (StarkEx). Rules, on the other hand, is one of the first applications of its kind built on a completely open network: StarkNet, a secondary layer of Ethereum, also known as "layer 2".
Make the wallet invisible to the user
The key to this simplicity? A recent innovation called "account abstraction". It eliminates the need for the user to constantly sign transactions with a private key. This development could lead to wider adoption of the technology, especially by those unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies.
This paves the way for plenty of features, such as a very simple account recovery system (in case you want to reinstall your game on a new phone, for example). Not to mention the fact that it will now be possible to pre-load a wallet with tokens, whereas up until now this was the player's responsibility. Inevitably, many gave up before they had even started playing.
"This kind of solution will enable more people to create digital wallets and have digital assets," explains Henri Lieautaud, a professor at the Léonard-de-Vinci engineering school (ESILV) in Courbevoie and in charge of relations with StarkNet developers.
"I am convinced that within two or three years we will see Web3 applications reaching people who have never had cryptos," he insists.
High potential for Web3 gaming
Account abstraction also presents major prospects in Web3 gaming. Who would want to sign messages with their wallet every time they interact in a game? Asking the question is already answering it...
"This new standard makes it possible to offer more immersive experiences where the player is not disturbed every 30 seconds to validate a transaction on the blockchain," explains Itamar Lesuisse, the boss of Argent, a wallet that bet on account abstraction very early on.
This system is also compatible with any other kind of application. "Today, I can sign crypto transactions using Face ID on my iPhone. It's the same authentication system as my banking application", Henri Lieautaud points out.
"Entrepreneurs who are more focused on the product rather than infrastructure issues have clearly understood the benefit," he assures.
As Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin reminded us at the Ethereum Community Conference 2023 in Paris, account abstraction is probably one of the ecosystem's greatest recent advances.