Smart Contract Wallet Innovations: How is Braavos Leading The Way?
Meet Motty Lavie, Braavos’ Founder & CEO, and Bertrand Blancheton, Head of Marketing for a series of Q&A that clarify, Smart Contract Wallet Innovation, StarkNet tech opportunities, market evolution and more!
Questions about smart contract wallet: an overview
• How can Braavos secure crypto enthusiasts’ journey after the centralized services incidents?
• What’s Braavos’ strategy to attract more users and builders to the space?
• How will Braavos be affected by StarkNet Regenesis?
• Are there any upcoming features to expect?
• What’s your vision of the current market situation and what’s the team’s mood?
• How do you plan on getting rid of seed phrases?
• What was your main goal in saving the ArgentX, another smart contract wallet after discovering its recent vulnerabilities?
I’d like to bring to the table the challenging time the whole blockchain community has been experiencing in the last weeks.
Q: How can smart contract wallets such as Braavos secure the journey of both new and experienced crypto enthusiasts after the incidents with centralized services?
People outside of the industry often see crypto as a whole, as one big vertical. They don’t know there’s a big difference between centralized solutions like FTX or Celsius and the other decentralized projects we see on StarkNet and Ethereum. However, for those in the industry, there is a significant difference between these two kinds of solutions. At Braavos, we have chosen to operate in the decentralized and self-custodial world as it aligns with our core values. But we recognize that the user experience in this world can be challenging, both for new and experienced users, which is why we see users turn to centralized solutions.
With StarkNet and built-in account abstraction, we believe we have a strong chance to offer a smooth experience and high level of security that takes off the burden and responsibility from the user’s shoulders and lets the smart contract wallet take care of it. A prime example of this is our Hardware Signer feature, which has been available on mainnet for a few months now. This feature uses smartphones’ built-in security chips to sign transactions on the blockchain, offering users the same level of security as hardware wallets without the burdens associated with them.
So that’s one example of how to help people transition from centralized solutions to decentralized and self-custodial solutions to offer them a much more secure journey.
I have a question for Bertrand.
Q: What’s Braavos’ strategy to attract more users and builders to the space?
There is no simple answer to that. We have a product-led approach because we aim to bring a smooth user experience and much better security for everyday users, so the tech team does most of the work. The crypto world right now is still very tech-oriented, but it is important to cater to the needs of both tech-savvy users and those who are new to the space. The main focus is to create a product that is adapted to these end users, those who are used to the traditional banking system and web2. The goal is to make the transition to a decentralized, more secure, and self-custodial wallet seamless.
If people stop using their banking app and start using their Braavos smart contract wallet, they should not see a difference except that they have full control over their funds. So the biggest part of the strategy is of course the wallet itself. It’s crucial to our industry.
Nevertheless, when I joined the project, I discussed with Motty how we could grow the interest that people have in self-custodial wallets like Braavos. The first step was to engage with the tech community on StarkNet and the L2 industry. Those who attended the last StarkNetCC in Lisbon saw that these people are mainly builders, tech-focused people interested in experimenting with different projects. So we answered with a wallet that already has a lot of innovations and a complete user experience on both desktop and mobile.
The second group of people we want to reach are end-users who are getting interested in Web3 and crypto. They start to understand that they should do a bit of trading, move some funds, invest in different protocols and so on. To cater to them, we have developed a community-led approach designed to provide a place for people who want to help the community grow and contribute to the project by sharing their knowledge, promoting the project, and testing the product. This is how we plan to grow the community and interest in our project.
Q: How will Braavos approach the next months with the arrival of StarkNet Regenesis?
It’s important to note that there will not be an actual Regenesis of the network. The original plan was to reset and restart the network from scratch. However, that has now changed and Regenesis will be a regular version upgrade, similar to StarkNet moving from version 10 to version 11. From an end-user perspective, there will be almost no effect from this upgrade, and it may be more accurate to stop referring to it as Regenesis. The network will simply move to a more mature state and continue to function as it previously did. From a developer’s perspective, there is a lot of work to be done to support this new upgrade in the version, but it is similar to other work that is done with major versions. I would say it’s an extensive kind of version.
Q: What is Braavos’ plan for the future? Are there any upcoming features to expect?
Our focus is on making the user experience of using our smart contract wallet and self-custodial solutions more frictionless. We plan to make the Hardware Signer more user-friendly and we are going to introduce it not only on mobile but also on laptops that can support it. Then we will introduce two-factor authentication like we know from web2 devices. When activated, the user will need two signatures in order to execute a transaction over a certain amount, which will give them more confidence that their funds are safe. And we are working on what we call Paymaster, the ability to pay gas fees in other currencies than ETH. So today if you want to transfer some USDC to someone, you also have to have an ETH balance to cover the gas fee. And if you don’t have ETH, then you need to transfer some or swap for some, which is a very cumbersome kind of experience. The idea is to be able to pay gas fees in almost any token available on StarkNet.
We’re also planning to put emphasis on the DeFi aspect such as allowing users to invest, stake and earn yield on their assets directly from the wallet. So all these innovations are intended to make the experience of using a self-custodial, decentralized wallet more similar to a traditional bank account, while maintaining a strong emphasis on security.
Let’s continue with the questions from the Braavos community.
Q: What’s your vision of the current market situation and what’s the mood of the team?
I must say that, although we are aware of the situation, our primary focus is on building on the decentralized and self-custodial world since we’ve never believed in centralized services. These incidents (FTX, Celsius, etc.) hurt the crypto industry in the short term because people have lost their money, some projects got hit, mainstream media paints a bleak picture of crypto and some regulators will conclude that crypto is bad and insecure. But hopefully, in the mid and long term, people will understand that they shouldn’t hold their money in centralized services such as FTX and Celsius and they’ll come back to crypto fundamentals, which are decentralization and self-custody.
As for the community, the mood hasn’t been impacted by recent events. We see a couple of thousands of people joining our discord every week. We see more discussion, and more people testing the wallet, so from the community point of view, the trend is still really high, which is encouraging to see of course.
So our mood is great. We are very excited to see our community grow. We are very happy that our wallet is the most secure wallet on StarkNet and that people enjoy the Hardware Signer. And basically, we like building, we like releasing products and seeing users enjoy them and the fact that it brings them value. So yeah, things are going well 🙂
Q: How do you plan to get rid of the seed phrases without compromising account security and decentralization?
That’s a great question because we think that seed phrases are a significant pain point for users. Even in the traditional web2 world, there is a growing effort to get rid of text passwords, and (unfortunately) seed phrases fit into this category. They’re not the right solution for protecting users’ funds as they’re highly subject to phishing attacks and they can easily be lost. And we will offer a solution that will get rid of the need for seed phrases, or at the very least make it such that users won’t need to worry about them.
We are developing a password recovery feature that will allow users to retrieve their funds even if they forget their password, similar to how it is done in traditional web2 systems. So we want to enable the same capability in crypto, but with a decentralized approach and while maintaining the self-custodial nature of the wallet. Naturally I can’t share more details about that at this point, but I promise that it will be even more of a revolution than the Hardware Signer.
Q: You saved the competitor, ArgentX, another smart contract wallet.
What was your main goal in doing so?
We didn’t save the competitor, we saved the competitor’s users. We think that even if these people didn’t use our solution, they shouldn’t lose their funds. The vulnerability we discovered would have allowed an attacker to quickly drain all of the users’ accounts without any interaction from the users. An attacker could have been sitting at his computer anywhere in the world, and with a few clicks on the keyboard could have simply drained all of those ArgentX users’ accounts without them even knowing about it until the next time they open the wallet and see their balance at zero.
Besides protecting users, we wanted to protect the StarkNet ecosystem as well. In any case I think that Responsible Disclosure is the right approach to take, so we made efforts to inform the Argent team of the issue, explained to them how to fix it and waited until they had released a fix, before we published anything. Because we believe that protecting the ecosystem and its users is more important than competing with a competitor.