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Smart accounts come to Ethereum with the launch of ERC-4337

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(Kitco News) - Onboarding new users into the Ethereum ecosystem just got easier with the launch of the ERC-4337 standard, which enables the creation of smart accounts and offers a path to a more user-friendly blockchain experience.

Yoav Weiss, an Ethereum Foundation security researcher, surprised the audience at WalletCon in Denver on Wednesday by announcing that the core contracts for ERC-4337, also referred to as “account abstraction,” have passed the smart contract auditing phase and will soon be accessible on every Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatible network including Polygon, BNB Chain, Avalanche, Optimism and Arbitrum.

One of the biggest barriers to entry into the crypto ecosystem is the complicated process of creating cryptocurrency wallets, which requires users to record complicated seed phrases and can often involve a highly technical setup process that the average person has no interest in learning.

Along with the ability to create smart accounts, account abstraction also enables cryptographic keys to be stored on standard smartphone security modules, effectively enabling them to become hardware wallets.

"Account abstraction has for a long time been a dream of the Ethereum developer community," said Vitalik Buterin, co-author of EIP-4337 and Chief Scientist of the Ethereum Foundation, in a blog post describing the proposal.

The new functionality also enables two-factor authentication, monthly account spending limits, session keys to play blockchain games without constantly needing to approve transactions, and allows users to sign transactions on their phone using a fingerprint or face scan.

The problem of lost seed phrases and devices also becomes a thing of the past as account abstraction creates a time-locked social recovery function that allows a user to recover their account through a group of trusted friends or a specialized commercial service. The new service offers users many of the same features as banks without having to trust a third-party institution with the custody of their funds.

ERC-4337 has been in development for two years and is one of the most highly anticipated upgrades to the Ethereum network. Previous proposals enabling account abstraction all required a difficult hard fork of the network, which ultimately resulted in them being rejected in lieu of other upgrades, including The Merge. This proposal was ultimately successful because rather than forcing a hard fork, it uses decentralized infrastructure known as “bundlers.”

The bundling process involves smart wallets signing “user operations” which are then sent to a special mempool (an organized queue of transactions). Bundlers take user operations from the mempool and deliver the desired result back to the wallet, paying all required gas fees in the process. Compensation for money spent on fees is retrieved from the user’s contract account or from a third party known as a “paymaster,” such as a wallet provider.

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Stackup, a crypto wallet infrastructure firm focused on simplifying the use of cryptocurrency, has become one of the first companies to announce the launch of a node service for sending ERC-4337 transactions and sponsoring transactions on the Ethereum network.

"Accessibility is the biggest problem in blockchains, and we're proud to provide a critical part of the solution," said John Rising, Co-founder of Stackup. "Blockchain's biggest problem is that you basically have to be an expert to use it safely. With EIP-4337 and Stackup's infrastructure, that isn't true anymore."

Stackup’s onboarding process allows for instant wallet creation on any EVM blockchain using social logins. The company's account abstraction infrastructure makes it easy to bundle transactions together, turning complex sequences of transactions into simple one-click experiences for users while also simplifying the development process for developers.

“Our easy-to-use web3 APIs make it simple to create polished, user-friendly experiences for your users,” said Hazim Jumali, Co-founder of Stackup. “Plus, our open-source SDK is battle-tested, so you can focus on building your product, not on infrastructure.”

One of the biggest benefits of the new service was highlighted in a tweet from Rising on Friday: “Because the contract handles the esoteric blockchain stuff, you don’t have to use words like ‘gas’ or ‘nonce’ to accurately describe what’s happening. This is a huge win for crypto adoption and security.”

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