Home NFTs Op-ed: The unspoken Ethereum revolution: Are EOAs becoming obsolete?

Op-ed: The unspoken Ethereum revolution: Are EOAs becoming obsolete?

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Under the radar, one of the most significant changes to the Ethereum ecosystem has been announced with little to no community reaction. Account abstraction is a core advancement in web3 account management, but the current roadmap brings with it a new goal to completely remove Externally Owned Accounts (EOAs) from the Ethereum ecosystem.

The term account abstraction refers to the process of abstracting the complexities of web3 accounts to create a more usable experience for the end user. The original goal was to generalize the web3 account model so that all accounts are treated the same. It doesn’t matter if they are his EOA or smart contract accounts. However, the Ethereum Foundation seems to have decided that he has no room for an EOA in the future of the ecosystem, favoring smart contract wallets as his default account model for users.

EIP-4337 & Account Abstraction

Yoav Weiss, Security Fellow at the Ethereum Foundation, said: EIP-4337 While talking on ETHDenver. An update to the Ethereum network upgrades the functionality of smart contract wallets, adding elements of account abstraction such as decentralized bundlers, token fee payments, alternative mempools, and other account abstraction features.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin first introduced EIP in September 2021, sharing the concept in the following message on the Ethereum message board.

“A proposal for an account abstraction that completely avoids the need to change the consensus layer protocol. Instead, it relies on a separate mempool of UserOperation objects and miners running either custom code or a bundle marketplace.”

However, one important aspect of EIP-4337 is the move toward removing EOA entirely. According to his EIP documentation on his website for the Ethereum Foundation, the primary motivation for the upgrade is to “eliminate the need for users to have her EOA at all.”

“Fulfilling a key goal of account abstraction: Allowing users to use smart contract wallets containing arbitrary validation logic instead of EOA as their primary account. It completely removes the need for users to also have an EOA. .”

crypto slate We have reached out to several wallet providers, but none of them were willing to discuss the possibility of removing the EOA entirely, given the lack of a time frame from the Ethereum Foundation. , the Ethereum Foundation did not respond to attempts to comment.

What are EOAs?

An EOA in Ethereum is a specific type of account controlled by a user holding a private key, unlike a smart contract account. Essentially, EOA acts as a user’s cryptographic identity on his Ethereum blockchain, allowing the user to hold, send and receive her ETH, NFT, or other tokens and interact with smart contracts. .

An EOA is identified by a unique public address from its private key. Unlike smart contract accounts, EOAs have no code or logic associated with them. However, you can sign transactions to initiate transfers, deploy smart contracts, and interact with existing smart contracts on the Ethereum network.

The main difference between EOAs and smart contract accounts is their control. EOAs are controlled by external entities using private keys, while smart contract accounts are controlled by smart contract code and follow the rules specified within that code.

Do you need an EOA?

EOA is the most tried and tested type of blockchain account. Popular software wallets such as MetaMask and hardware wallets such as Ledger, Tezor and SafePal are all created with EOA accounts. Removing the EOA would have a dramatic impact on such projects, requiring major code updates.

While the problem of onboarding new users to web3 by requiring secure recording and storage of complex private keys or long seed phrases is a widely accepted problem, the core components of the Ethereum ecosystem are Deleting it is a drastic solution to this problem.

Additionally, removing the EOA addresses a loss of simplicity, increased complexity, higher transaction costs, compatibility issues, security concerns, EVM fragmentation, and potentially reduced adoption due to increased friction. It creates a myriad of potential problems that need to be addressed.

This is not to say that all of the above issues are insurmountable. However, the path to EOA removal involves issues that have not yet been considered. Additionally, since Ethereum is at the heart of the web3 ecosystem, removing his EOA from the Ethereum network could cause compatibility issues across the EVM landscape.

EOA removal issues

In a bear market, it’s easy to recommend the use of smart contracts. Smart contracts use on average more gas than EOA due to the complex logic used to run the code. At the time of writing, the Ethereum gas price is 12 GWEI ($0.40), including the network base fee.

The graph below shows how the average gas price paid per transaction has changed since the network started. In the 2021-2022 bull market, gas will climb to a high of 305 GWEI, averaging around 120 GWEI, about 10 times higher than today. Transaction costs on the Ethereum Layer 1 blockchain network will almost certainly increase if EOA is completely removed.

eas gas price
Source: Glassnode

However, advances in Ethereum scaling solutions such as dedicated industry-specific Layer 2 like Polygon and Immutable will become even more important for the network if trading on the base layer is banned.

Regarding the other issues identified, the changing landscape of regulatory guidance should also be considered. Recently, the European Parliament passed legislation on the Internet of Things (IoT) industry. This requires all smart contracts to include a “kill switch” and thus “proxy upgradability”. Article 30 This law has the following requirements:

“The deployment of smart contracts for others in the context of agreements to make data available shall comply with the following mandatory requirements:[…]

Safe Termination and Abort: Ensure that a mechanism exists to terminate the continuous execution of a transaction: Smart contracts should be designed to stop or abort operations to avoid future (accidental) execution. It must contain an internal function that can reset or direct the contract.

This means that developers should include functionality in their smart contract wallets that allows account deletion. If this is implemented by someone other than the account owner, it eliminates the self-sovereign nature of the account.

Moreover, if Ethereum moves away from EOA completely, any EVM chain will have to implement the same functionality. Otherwise, you risk losing compatibility with the Ethereum mainnet. Implementations across other chains are unlikely to be synchronized, resulting in fragmented ecosystems and potentially incompatible dApps.

Projects that are currently fully compatible with multiple EVM chains may lose access to some networks during migration.

EOA innovation

So why remove the EOA? The Ethereum Foundation seems to have abandoned the possibility of innovating in the EOA space, calling for it to be completely removed. But I advised that he’s doing exactly this for a project called Intu in 2022, but it’s unlikely it’s the only one. For complete transparency, I was paid for my time advising projects, but there is no incentive for Intu to succeed other than believing in the team’s vision.

The point of this article is not to cheat the solution or create FUD within the Ethereum ecosystem. Instead, we want to raise awareness of this issue and foster discussion and coordination within the space.

I don’t think it is necessary to issue a statement from the Ethereum Foundation declaring the removal of the EOA unless there is a proper disclosure process first.Such a process ensures that the EOA need What will be removed, what the timeframe will look like, and how all potential security, compatibility, and usability issues will be resolved before the transition.

It’s also important to emphasize that EOA removal has not been confirmed. Ethereum is a decentralized ecosystem with no centralized administrator. However, the Ethereum Foundation has great influence within the developer community. Therefore, I believe it is important for the health of the ecosystem to continue this dialogue.

I understand the Ethereum Foundation’s point of view. I hope that the conversation will be conducted more openly to ensure that we move towards account abstraction with our eyes fully open. , weak beliefs ”.

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