Why the Starknet Mobile Wallet Holds the Key to Crypto’s Future
Crypto is still way behind the curve on mobile technology. For too long we’ve relied on immobile browser wallets, which create three major barriers for UX and security.
- Instead of the mobile phone, which everyone knows and understands, people are forced to use clunky extensions they’ve never heard of.
- These browser wallets deny users the freedom to access their crypto where and when it’s most convenient.
- Users have to rely on text passwords and seed phrases, which are the weakest form of security and can be lost, stolen, or easily hacked.
Mobile crypto wallets, specifically Starknet mobile wallets, solve all three problems.
Harnessing the power of account abstraction, a concept fundamental to Starknet, we can split the wallet into two parts: the surface-level application and an underlying smart contract.
This smart contract can take advantage of the security chips and biometric sensors embedded in your phone. So, when we create a Starknet mobile wallet, we can provide an experience that is mobile, flexible and familiar.
Why are mobile crypto wallets so important right now?
Crypto is about providing financial freedom, even in those parts of the world that are cut off from physical banks.
This means mobile wallets are crucial. And recent trends have made them even more important.
- The world is more mobile than ever. The era of lockdown has become the era of movement. Holiday havens are receiving record numbers. Workations are commonplace. Gyms, libraries and coffee shops are seeing a spike in footfall.
- Our audience is used to mobile finance. Crypto’s audience is young, and this demographic is used to getting finance on their phones. According to one study, 97% of Millennials now use mobile banking apps.
- People forget stuff. Fifteen percent of users reset a password at least once a week (source: Statista) and these are relatively simple character strings, chosen by the user. Seed phrases, blocks of words chosen by a machine with no relevance for the user, set the bar extremely high.
- Mobile is more intuitive than desktop. Swiping and gliding with your fingers is a more natural way to browse opportunities than clicking a mouse or touchpad. All kinds of apps, from dating sites to luxury realtors, have already latched on to this fact. Why not crypto?
- Mobile security gives you an extra line of defense. Over $3 billion was stolen from crypto in 2022. We need to bring this figure down if we want to win lasting consumer confidence.
Ok, so what’s the difference between traditional wallets and smart contract wallets?
With Externally Owned Accounts (EOAs) like MetaMask, your funds are solely controlled by your wallet application. If you want to make a transaction, the wallet application uses your private key to create a signature, verifying your identity to the blockchain.
However, with smart contract wallets that utilize account abstraction, your funds are controlled by a smart contract on-chain.
This shift from surface-level applications to smart contracts enables us to create arbitrary signature verification logic, so we can move away from the limitations enforced by blockchains and reflected in EOA wallets.
For example, none of the major blockchains – not Bitcoin, not Ethereum, not even Starknet – uses an elliptic curve that’s compatible with the cryptographic signature scheme supported in mobile phones’ security chips.
The iPhone has the secure enclave, while Google’s Pixel phones have the Titan M2 chip. These are both subsystems, separate from the application processor. They enable the generation of hardware keys and the signing of transactions using biometric authentication.
What does this mean for Starknet mobile wallets?
With mobile wallets on Starknet, we can create:
1. Private hardware keys that are embedded in the silicon of your phone, well out of reach of your applications.
2. Biometric verification with fingerprint and facial ID, which facilitates multi-factor verification and minimizes the need for passwords and seed phrases.
How have we harnessed these benefits in our own Starknet mobile wallet?
The Braavos mobile wallet has introduced the Hardware Signer, which utilizes your phone’s secure sub-system to create a hardware key. This is used by your phone’s security chip to sign all your transactions.
So now, the key derived from your seed phrase has only one function: to enable you to remove the Hardware Signer if your phone is lost, broken, or stolen.
This request is subject to a four-day delay, which provides a buffer in case your seed phrase has been hacked. The delay allows you to move your funds to a safe place, and deny an attacker access to your funds.
Can I access Starknet dApps via mobile?
The Hardware Signer is the bedrock of the Braavos UX. Our wallet also offers a built-in dApp gallery browser, which enables you to access the best Starknet dApps from your phone, including DeFi protocols, NFT projects and blockchain games. In addition, the Starknet Pro Score allows you to track your transactions as well as all the protocols you’ve interacted with.
This is the only way you can currently access Starknet dApps on mobile.
While it’s great to be the first mobile wallet on Starknet, we hope other projects follow suit and dApp developers take mobile and responsive design into consideration when building their dApps.
For crypto, this is fundamental to our direction of travel. We talk a lot about building the future of finance and solving the problems of fiat.
But until we create mobile wallets that offer an experience which is on par with the banking apps people have used up to now, this will just be empty rhetoric.
If you want to discuss mobile crypto wallets, wallet security or anything else that arises from this article, please reach out to us on Twitter or Discord. We’d love to chat.