4 - 6 minute read
StarkNet, an Israel-based software company, has created an innovative solution that seeks to solve the challenges of scalability, privacy and security issues on the Ethereum blockchain. The company has embraced account abstraction (AA) which aims to combine user accounts and smart contracts into a single type of account. With AA, users won’t have to use their private keys to sign off on every transaction, making crypto more user-friendly. The move is expected to provide fail-safe mechanisms for owning crypto, thus encouraging more people to get into the crypto space.
According to CoinDesk, losing the “keys” (a series of alphanumeric characters) to your crypto account could mean losing access to your crypto forever. Traditional crypto wallets don’t have set mechanisms in place that could let you recover your account if you do lose access to it, unlike what happens with bank accounts in traditional banking. Account abstraction aims to address the shortcomings of external owned accounts (EOA) by merging the two types of accounts, thus allowing users to have built-in fail-safe mechanisms and other special features for verifying transactions.
StarkNet is a layer 2 companion blockchain to Ethereum created by StarkWare. It is one of the first blockchains to natively integrate AA. Its founders, Eli Ben-Sasson and Uri Kolodny, are known as the Ernie and Bert of blockchain. Ben-Sasson, a computer science professor at Technion, has been involved in the blockchain space as co-founder of Zcash. The founders decided to tackle the challenges of scaling and privacy on the Ethereum blockchain together, founding StarkWare in 2018.
StarkNet is unusual because AA is natively integrated into the protocol. Users of StarkNet can natively use AA without having to reprogram their wallets into smart contracts. The legacy that exists on Ethereum is a very limiting factor in the introduction of AA, meaning even if AA is introduced, anyone developing an application has to take into account a very significant installed base of EOA accounts. On StarkNet, developers start from a clean slate where smart wallets are the only sort of interaction that users have with the network.
StarkNet allows for security mechanisms that Ethereum cannot match. For example, security checks for authorizing transactions that already exist in the Web2 sphere, such as facial ID or fingerprint login, are already available on StarkNet. Another use case that is natively available on StarkNet is what Ben-Sasson calls the “deadman switch.” Thanks to AA on StarkNet, users can have features and coded logic built in that can transfer financial assets to others in the event something happens. In a real-world example, this would mimic that of a will and the transferring of traditional assets – which would be costly because lawyers and procedures are involved. This “switch” skips the middleman and transfers digital assets in the event that something major happens, which can be programmed through code. Lastly, multisig features, where multiple users can sign off on transactions as an extra layer of security, are already available on StarkNet.
However, the biggest hurdle with account abstraction is that it’s not widespread yet. Developers need to build on StarkNet and familiarize themselves with account abstraction in order for it to take off and for crypto to become more mainstream. For now, gaming applications have turned to StarkNet to build their apps with AA because other chains’ high gas costs have made it hard for any developer to build what they need on-chain. Payment processor Visa is working on a system in development using StarkNet, describing it in a thought-leadership proposal published in December. Visa detailed a “novel solution” for how StarkNet could be used to automate crypto payment transactions for bills.
The Bottom Line
StarkNet, a layer 2 companion blockchain to Ethereum, has natively integrated account abstraction (AA) in order to enhance scalability, privacy, and security on the Ethereum blockchain. Unlike Ethereum, StarkNet allows developers to use AA without having to reprogram their wallets into smart contracts. The move is expected to provide fail-safe mechanisms for owning crypto, thus encouraging more people to invest in cryptocurrencies. Developers need to build on StarkNet and familiarize themselves with account abstraction in order for it to take off and for crypto to become more mainstream. With security mechanisms like facial ID or fingerprint login, multisig features, and “deadman switches,” StarkNet is poised to revolutionize the crypto space by making it more user-friendly and secure.