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No, Smart Wallets Won’t Onboard the Next Billion Users to Web3—the Future Is Chain-agnostic

Last Updated June 19, 2024 8:27 AM
Last Updated June 19, 2024 8:27 AM
By Emile Dubié
Verified by Ana Alexandre
Key Takeaways
  • The Web3 universe is expanding faster than we can keep up. It’s unrealistic to assume that average users can keep track of each network with its specific needs.
  • We are at a point where the explosion in new blockchain networks is starting to hinder rather than help the widespread adoption of crypto.
  • We need to make the crypto experience as seamless as making a phone call or text, regardless of location or carrier.

The Web3 world is at a crossroads. As innovation accelerates, an ever-increasing number of new networks are rolling off the production line – over 1,800 blockchains belong to EVM and Cosmos alone.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that such a rapid proliferation of siloed networks presents a major hurdle for mainstream crypto adoption. We cannot reasonably expect users to navigate this vast array of chains, each with its own gas token and bespoke requirements.

The complexity is already too much for most to stomach, as evidenced by the fact that only around 40 million of crypto’s 500 million owners use non-custodial wallets that require both personal responsibility and a degree of specialist knowledge (not much).

The false promise of smart wallets

Smart contract wallets recently promoted by major players like Coinbase have attempted  to simplify this problem by improving UX. “These next-generation wallets address the biggest pain points of the crypto experience today,” says Coinbase, citing “complex onboarding, network fees, and recovery phrases” as the major impediments to growth.

However, although they tout their gasless transactions, cross-app portability, Coinbase balance support, and use of passkeys instead of seed phrases, smart wallets are not a transformative solution. After all, users are still forced to juggle multiple wallets across different ecosystems like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Solana (SOL), and more.

For those who operate within the scope of EVM, smart wallets are a fine innovation. But for everyone else with cause to interact with non-EVM chains, including Bitcoin, not so much. And that’s without even getting into the fact that Coinbase smart wallets still have all the inherent flaws of centralized, permissioned wallet solutions.

Creating a seamless, user-friendly multi-chain system

To realize crypto’s potential and onboard the normies, the industry must solve these long-standing issues at the multi-chain, base level—not just for a handful of EVM networks.

We need to fully abstract away the concepts of separate blockchains and gas tokens, making it seamless for users to frictionlessly move value across any chain, whether it’s EVM, Bitcoin, Solana, Cosmos, or beyond.

It’s analogous to how the telecommunications industry abstracted complexities to let anyone make calls and send messages seamlessly, regardless of their location, device, or carrier network.

Blockchain users deserve that same freedom of movement without having to grapple with the underlying complexity. Only then will users feel empowered to hold their digital assets natively in self-custody wallets, rather than rely on centralized, custodial platforms whose principles are anathema to Satoshi’s.

Cultivating a cross-chain future

The path forward is quite clear: we have to prioritize creating a truly chain-agnostic  wallet experience that connects every decentralized application (dApp) while allowing users to seamlessly store, swap, and send any asset, like cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the works, across the blockchain landscape; to see all their assets in one place.

Is that fanciful? Idealistic? No, it’s just common sense.

The phrase “onboard the next billion” is tossed about so much that it’s about time we had a frank conversation about what is actually required to pull off such a feat.

Achieving cross-chain (inter)operability is not pie-in-the-sky thinking or ambition just for convenience’s sake; it’s critical for driving widespread adoption and unlocking blockchain’s world-changing potential. The future of Web3 depends on making self-sovereign participation effortless for the masses.

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