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Newman Research: Investing In Openfort – Improving Web3 UX with Account Abstraction

May 24, 2023

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We are happy to announce that Newman Capital has invested in Openfort, a blockchain infrastructure company focused on Web3 gaming that aims to streamline crypto account management and empower programmatic transactions through robust API endpoints. Openfort’s platform allows developers to effortlessly connect their users to Web3 applications by decreasing user friction with the ultimate goal of improving UX that will foster user engagement, increase on-chain actions, and ultimately transform casual visitors into active users.

We’re excited to back Joan and Jaume Alavedra as we are confident in their abilities to design effective technical solutions. The Alavedra brothers have a strong developer track record of engineering several projects ranging from autonomous driving models to encryption protocols. At Newman, we believe the next big shift to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)-compatible ecosystem will come from the implementation of account abstraction, and that Joan and Jaume’s efforts will change the game with their customizable wallet-as-a-service solution.

The Current State of User Experience on Ethereum

Although continuous progress is being made, blockchain technology still faces challenges in providing the equivalent degree of adaptability and user experience present in Web2 digital experiences. With the bar set high for how intuitive it is to navigate Web2 gaming UIUX, it is imperative for Web3 games to improve the current onboarding and in-platform experience in order to scale for mass adoption. Benefits of account abstraction (AA) include decreased friction and enhanced security, but what exactly is AA and how does it work?

The term account abstraction (AA) started picking up steam for the wider crypto community late-February 2023 when the Ethereum Foundation announced they would be sponsoring grants to improve AA infrastructure and later deployed an audited version of ERC-4337 on the Ethereum mainnet, however the concept was first mentioned in Vitalik Buterin’s EIP-86 from 2016, less than a year after the Ethereum network launched. Over the years, various AA-related proposals have been drafted including EIP-2771, EIP-2938, EIP-3074, and most recently ERC-4337.

Breaking Down Ethereum Accounts

To understand AA, we must dive into the types of accounts that exist on the Ethereum network. Currently, there are two types: Externally Owned Accounts (EOAs) and Contract Accounts (CAs).

Figure 1: Two Types of Accounts on Ethereum, Etherworld

1. EOAs or user accounts are what most users interact with. They are human-controlled via access to private keys and user signatures

2.CAs are smart contracts that are controlled by code logic written on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)

​Externally Owned Accounts (EOAs)Contract Accounts (CAs)
Creating an account costs nothing (CAs)Creating a contract has a cost because you’re using network storage
Can initiate transactionsCan only send transactions in response to receiving a transaction
Transactions between externally-owned accounts can only be ETH/token transfersTransactions from an external account to a contract account can trigger code which can execute many different actions, such as transferring tokens or even creating a new contract
Made up of a cryptographic pair of keys: public and private keys that control account activitiesContract accounts don’t have private keys. Instead, they are controlled by the logic of the smart contract code

Table 1: Key Differences between EOAs and CAs, Ethereum Website

The current state of EOAs leaves room for cumbersome UX and human error (ex. friction created as users must approve and sign every transaction, users can easily lose access to their private keys). The vision for AA is to enable the utilization of smart contract logic to define not only the transaction’s outcomes, but also the logic for fee payment and validation. One solution is to give EOAs the programmability of CAs, therefore increasing their functionality and flexibility by “abstracting out” signature verification and nonce checking so that they may interact directly with the EVM.

Latest Account Abstraction Developments on Ethereum

ERC-4337 was originally proposed as EIP-4337 in 2021, authored by Vitalik Buterin, Yoav Weiss, Kristof Gazso, Namra Patel, Dror Tirosh, Shahaf Nacson, and Tjaden Hess. Having undergone the Ethereum Request for Comment (ERC) process, the standard can now be applied to the application layer of Ethereum. Unlike previous AA-related proposals, ERC-4337 avoids the need for consensus layer protocol changes as it uses an EntryPoint contract to achieve AA. As Vitalik puts it:

Instead of modifying the logic of the consensus layer itself, we replicate the functionality of the transaction mempool in a higher-level system. Users send UserOperation objects that package up the user’s intent along with signatures and other data for verification. Either miners or bundlers using services such as Flashbots can package up a set of UserOperation objects into a single “bundle transaction”, which then gets included into an Ethereum block. (Source: Vitalik Buterin’s Medium)

Figure 2: How ERC-4337 Works, Ethereum Website

Full technical details of ERC-4337 can be found in Vitalik’s Medium post, ERC-4337: account abstraction without Ethereum protocol changes, or in the full ERC-4337 proposal. So you may be wondering, how does this improve user experience and security for Web3 gaming and beyond?

New Opportunities with Account Abstraction

Prior to the deployment of ERC-4337, some smart contract wallets from companies like Argent existed, however with the deployment of this new contract standard, even more users will be able to define their own transaction validation logic and unlock more possibilities for both users and developers alike.

Below are just a few examples of new functionalities that come with AA:

Benefits of AAWhat does this mean?Examples for Gaming
Gas AbstractionPay for someone else’s gas fees or have someone else pay for yoursGame studios can sponsor gas fees for in-game microtransactions on behalf of gamers to decrease friction
In-game Session KeysSet transaction limits for how much can be transferred from the account within a certain time frameGamers can pre-approve all transactions up to a designated amount for a single in-game session to decrease wallet pop ups and prompts during gameplay
Multi-calls​Group approvals and executions of transactions together to streamline UX and save on gas feesInstead of signing 3 separate transactions for forging an in-game item while leveling up your smithing experience, you can now bundle the transactions into one step when crafting a new weapon
DelegationGrant temporary or permanent access of an asset to another party without loGroup approvals and executions of transactions together to streamline UX and save on gas feesGamers can share access to assets like battle passes and in-game items for different uses like staking, voting, and in-game play
Account RecoveryRegain access to your account if you lose your private keys via different solutions including pre-defined trusted guardiansWhen setting up your user profile for a new game, users can pre-designate friends as guardians. That way if you’ve lost access to an account you haven’t opened in months, you can recover it via your guardians. Think of this as entering a 2FA code, but the authentication is distributed amongst your guardians for added security
Multi-sig AuthorizationShare authorization credentials with multiple trusted parties across different devicesShare authorization across your team, clan, guild, or gamer DAO

Developer Solutions for the Next Phase of Web3 Gaming

Driving Web3 adoption among consumers is a key mission for Newman Capital, and having high-efficiency infrastructure, middleware, and tooling without compromising on security are prerequisites for developing optimized Web3 UX that even a non-crypto native user can navigate with ease.

Account abstraction opens new doors for developers to design improved UX that not only benefits the Ethereum network, but the wider EVM ecosystem which is why we’re excited to invest and build with Openfort. We believe their easy to integrate APIs and SDKs provide an incredible white-label, developer-friendly solution that will further the development of Web3 gaming.

Disclaimer: This material has been shared solely for information purposes, and must not be relied upon for the purpose of entering into any transaction nor investment. Newman Capital is not an investment adviser, and is not purporting to provide you with investment, legal or tax advice. You are always advised to DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH before making any investment decision. Newman Capital is an investor in Openfort.

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