Robert Steinadler, 25 days ago

Smart accounts: Ethereum deployed account abstraction

Ethereum underwent a lot of changes when switching to proof of stake and the roadmap to finalize Ethereum 2.0 is still long. Other improvements that are in the making haven’t caught much attention because the Merge and its aftermath stole the whole show. Yesterday, a groundbreaking improvement was announced that is believed to have the potential to drive user adoption of Ethereum by improving its overall usability.

What is account abstraction and what are smart accounts and how do they improve Ethereum?

Account abstraction has already been deployed

Account abstraction is a new standard that was formerly known as ERC-4337 and has already been deployed on a smart contract. It is expected that the feature will be supported by several Ethereum infrastructure providers in the future.

The smart contract can be used with all other EVM-compatible blockchains. This includes Binance Smart Chain, Polygon, and Avalanche. Account abstraction is a feature that turns a wallet into a smart contract account. The feature will be used to make wallets more user-friendly and to prevent the loss of private keys by making it easier to secure the account in question.

It came as a surprise that account abstraction has become already available. Many expected that it would take until 2024 to see this feature in action. While it may take some more time until it is broadly adopted, the smart contract is not only deployed but has also undergone a full security audit.  

How does account abstraction work?

Users can create two different types of accounts on Ethereum. The first category is external owned accounts (EOA) and the second is contract accounts (CA). EOAs are the type that is commonly used when creating a wallet, e.g. with MetaMask. Users receive a private key that allows controlling the account and sending funds, as well as a public key that allows anybody to send funds to the account freely.

CAs are very different because they are not controlled by private keys but by code. Therefore, they cannot initiate transactions by themselves. The idea behind CAs is that a traditional EOA carries the risk of losing the private key and therefore all funds. By merging an EOA with a CA through account abstraction, it becomes possible to keep access to the account through several mechanisms.

This includes a social recovery system where a group of users is allowed to restore access to the wallet for somebody else. It is expected that this feature will make recovery seeds and other lengthy methods of securing private keys obsolete in the future. Making a wallet recovery as easy as restoring an e-mail account without forgoing common security standards.

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