Vitalik rallies support for temporary smart wallets on Ethereum

New EIP would resolve disagreements around the best path towards universal smart contract wallets by temporarily giving EOAs superpowers


Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin published a new Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) on Tuesday that aims to reconcile core developers’ disparate approaches to account abstraction in upcoming hard forks.

The proposal, EIP-7702, is a successor to EIP-3074 which was considered a Candidate For Inclusion (CFI) in Ethereum’s next upgrade known as Prague-Electra — or “Pectra.”

But 3074’s road to CFI status was bumpy, with substantial time spent debating the EIP across multiple All-Core Dev calls since January.

Read more: Gnosis Chain premieres Ethereum’s Dencun hard fork

Developers have sought to provide tangible improvements to end users in the next hard fork, while keeping open various paths towards the “endgame” of account abstraction.

When looking at what could conceivably be moved into production first, 3074 was judged as most realistic.

But it wasn’t without its critics. For instance, Ansgar Dietrichs at the Ethereum Foundation called it “relatively heavy-handed” on the Jan. 18 ACD call, and more recently expressed reservations as well.

Buterin wrote the new proposal in 22 minutes, according to ZeroDev wallet CEO Derek Chiang, although the published proposal also credits Dietrichs alongside Sam Wilson and Matt Garnett.

A new transaction type allows EOAs to operate as smart contract wallets temporarily. At the end of a transaction, they revert to a normal account.

This approach promises to simplify the developers’ tasks by allowing the use of existing contract code and interaction patterns.

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“This EIP is designed to be very forward-compatible with endgame account abstraction, without over-enshrining any fine-grained details of ERC-4337 or RIP-7560,” the authors wrote.

Read more: Ethereum devs debate future of account abstraction

Unlike 3074, the new proposal aims to replicate its functionalities without adding new opcodes. By assuming a smart contract’s code temporarily, EOA can perform complex operations like batch transactions, making use of transaction sponsorship, and constrained sub-key operations — a security feature employing secondary keys (sub-keys) that have limited or specific permissions — within a single transaction.

Further down the roadmap, a wallet-centric approach to account abstraction is expected to become the norm. The new EIP is designed to be quite compatible with EIP-4337, rolled out in March 2023, making use of existing wallet code and transaction frameworks to minimize disruption and duplication of effort.

Read more: Ethereum Improvement Proposals to watch in 2024

7702 has rallied support from 3074 proponents like core developers Garnett and Andrew Ashkhmin, as well as important dapp developers including Uniswap’s Hayden Adams.

Opposition to the previously included improvement had grown in recent months, as more developers became aware it was on a path to become part of the next Ethereum upgrade.

Ethereum’s governance operates on principles of consensus-building, where points of contention are meticulously debated in public, both on group calls and online forums, until a clear course of action emerges.

Independent development teams then agree on shared specifications, which are coded into new versions of their respective Ethereum clients.

Ultimately, operators of thousands of validators must concur to install the new software versions at sufficient scale to successfully initiate a hard fork at an agreed upon date.

The next such upgrade, Pectra, is tentatively scheduled for Q4 2024.

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