New Ethereum standard ERC-4337: our developer’s opinion

Crypton Studio
3 min readMar 9, 2023

Last week the Ethereum developers team announced a new standard — ERC-4337.

It is a promising innovation that proposes smart contract accounts. It will prevent losing of private keys, and might become a major step for widespread web3 user experience.

With that upgrade:

— users don’t need to worry about losing their private keys because of account abstraction;

two-factor authentication is implemented to protect one’s key;

— it is easy to recover account access with one’s friends’ help (social recovery system);

— users can sign transactions on their phone with a fingerprint or face scan.

Our Solidity tech lead explains principles of account abstraction and social recovery as well as advantages and disadvantages of upgrade.

There are two types of accounts. External owned accounts (EOA) and smart contracts. The first ones are user accounts, and have some issues:

— to get access to account one needs the cryptographical private key;

— if user loses it or discredits it, there is no option to approve ownership and restore access;

— it is necessary to keep a mnemonic that is a kind of password to have the opportunity of account restoring.

New standard ERC-4337 allows the creation of accounts of a new generation with account abstraction.

  • Account abstraction is a smart contract which allows one to pay fees and start to provide transactions. New standart ERC-4337 integrates logic of EOA and smart contracts.

Why do this needed?

— to use another algorithms of verification;

— to reduce risk of access losing or robbery;

— to increase gas efficiency;

— to have an opportunity to pay fees that differ from ETH tokens.

  • Social recovery is a new way to restore access to an account if a private key was lost.

How does it work?

— There is a single key for signing that one uses to approve transactions.

— Additional layers of protection that are provided by guardians.

Who or what can be a guardian?

— Another device or mnemonics which has a wallet holder.

— Friends and family.

— Institutions that are available to sign messages for restoration if they would get approval via telephone call, email or video call.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of upgrading?

Advantages:

— there are no centralized parts. All users’ operations go via P2P mempool;

— no user-side wallet setup complexity;

— opportunity to fasten transaction;

— flexibility of verification logic;

— ease of wallet upgrading.

Disadvantages:

— slightly increased DoS vulnerability;

— gas overhead;

— one transaction at a time.

FAQ

  1. Does this upgrade impact privacy because of two-factor authentication?

It cannot impact so much. It depends on who or what was chosen as a guardian.

2. Why is account abstraction implemented?

The main reason is that the original EOA (External owned account) is not suitable for mass adoption. If a user loses access to mnemonic (private key), then his funds will stack into account forever.

3. Which issues does account abstraction solve?

It provides users with a variety of opportunities to recover access to their wallet. Actually account abstraction is a smart contract.

4. Which changes will it bring in the blockchain industry?

It is going to be a new approach to transaction execution and a way to interact with blockchain. It probably might become widespread, and will attract more people into blockchain technology.

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