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Doubling down on Starknet

Scaling self-custody to a billion users

Itamar Lesuisse
Dec 19, 2023

Argent was founded to fix crypto's biggest problems – security and usability.

2023 has been a big year for Argent, and I wanted to update you on our strategy and explain why we're so excited to be fully focused on Starknet.

Argent’s mission is to bring crypto's benefits to a billion people. For that to happen, we must improve crypto's user experience and security. We need to remove seed phrases. Provide one-tap access to Dapps. And have low (or no) network fees.

This needs account abstraction and a super scalable network. This needs Starknet.

How we got here 

We launched Argent on Ethereum in 2018 because it had the best combination of decentralisation, security and community.

Argent was Ethereum’s first smart wallet. We pioneered no seed phrases (introducing Social Recovery to the world), no network fees (we covered those), and one tap DeFi. We hoped to finally unlock crypto's potential for a wide audience.

But then DeFi summer happened, network fees skyrocketed, and it quickly became clear that Ethereum’s mainnet wasn't scalable enough for our vision. We needed to find a new home. 

Our search led us to zkSync and Starknet. We chose these networks because their approach to scaling, with zk-rollups, is the most promising long-term. But, even more importantly, we chose them because they embraced account abstraction. Account abstraction is the key to unlocking crypto's mass adoption, and we've been advocating it for years.

Account abstraction: the transition to smart wallets 

Account abstraction moves crypto from traditional wallets (EOAs) to programmable smart wallets. It’s like upgrading from an old Nokia to a smartphone.

Smart wallets abstract away many of the complexities that exist in crypto today. They’re more secure, easier to use and require fewer transactions. 

Five features of smart wallets:

  • Social Recovery: Simplify account recovery and eliminate seed phrases.
  • Multicall: Bundle multiple transactions into one to save network fees and time.
  • Argent Shield: Add 2FA to your crypto wallet.
  • Session Keys: Reduce friction by letting Dapps sign transactions on your behalf.
  • Plug-ins: An app store of features for your account.

Even Vitalik believes that “everyone moving to smart contract wallets” is one of “the three transitions” that Ethereum needs to become “a mature tech stack that is capable of actually bringing an open, global and permissionless experience to average users”.

Building on zkSync and Starknet

By 2023, Argent had built the first smart wallets for zkSync and Starknet. Both networks had fantastic teams, technologies and communities. But we gradually learnt that we couldn't offer our dream experience on both.

zkSync's strength is its EVM compatibility. Developers can easily deploy Ethereum Dapps and wallets such as MetaMask. But there is a tradeoff. Dapps on zkSync and other EVM networks, like Arbitrum, must maintain a second interface for smart wallets. And there lies the problem.

Most people use traditional wallets on EVM networks, so Dapps are slow to embrace the smart wallet interface. They either don't leverage the features of smart wallets or are completely incompatible. In short, smart wallets are second-class citizens, and users get a sub-optimal experience.

There are proposals, such as EIP-4337, to accelerate the adoption of account abstraction on EVM networks, but they wouldn’t fix the root problem. Even with EIP-4337, these networks would still have traditional wallets, so Dapps aren't incentivised to embrace smart wallets. The only solution is a network without traditional wallets; Starknet is that network. 

On Starknet, smart wallets like Argent are not just first-class citizens; they're the ONLY citizens. Dapps on Starknet only maintain one interface (the one for smart wallets), and we face no compatibility issues. We can finally deliver on our mission.

Pioneering wallets for Starknet

In late 2021, we released Argent X, a browser extension wallet designed for Starknet. Argent X was the first wallet created for Starknet, and it’s the most popular, with over 1.5 million downloads globally.

After the success of Argent X, we strengthened our commitment to Starknet in 2023 by adding three new wallets to its ecosystem: Mobile, Web Wallet, and Multisig.

With Mobile, we provide simple and secure access to the Starknet ecosystem. Through Web Wallet, we enable Dapps to bring in new users using only their email and password. We're thrilled that over twenty Starknet Dapps already use the "Invisible Wallet".

Finally, Multisig is the only open-source and audited wallet built for teams developing on Starknet. Together with Argent X, we can confidently say that Argent has a wallet for every type of user on Starknet.

What’s next for Argent?

In 2024, we'll double down on security and simplicity, making game-changing new features like Session Keys available to everyone. 

We're also super excited by our work on Hito Studios, a startup incubator and accelerator we recently launched in partnership with the Starknet Foundation. Our top priority is to help the Dapp ecosystem on Starknet thrive; we believe Hito Studios can play a critical role in this. 

Hito Studios will leverage Argent's resources and expertise to help outstanding Founders develop new Starknet projects and fill gaps in the ecosystem. As the most scalable L2, Starknet is ready for the next big consumer app, and Hito Studios will provide the support it needs to get off the ground. If you are building a consumer app on Starknet, please reach out to us.

2023 was a year of exponential growth for Starknet, and we believe this is only the beginning. Argent's mission has always been to scale crypto's benefits to a billion people. Starknet is where we'll do it.

Appendix

What will happen to Argent Vault accounts?

Our development efforts will focus on Starknet, but we’ll still maintain Argent Vault. Argent Vault is the most secure wallet on Ethereum L1, protecting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crypto. It’s not going anywhere.

What will happen to zkSync Lite accounts?

Matter Labs have stopped developing zkSync Lite and have moved onto zkSync Era. zkSync Lite accounts should transfer assets to another zkSync wallet, such as Metamask, or to your Argent Starknet account. If you need help transferring your assets, follow our zkSync Lite support articles.

What will happen to early access zkSync Era accounts?

We have paused the development of our early access zkSync Era account. If you haven't already, transfer your assets to another zkSync wallet. To stay within Argent, send to Starknet or your Ethereum Vault. Follow our zkSync Era support article for more information.

Will Argent ever return to zkSync?

We’re not giving up on zkSync or other EVM networks. Matter Labs (zkSync) are an incredible team, and we believe they will play a leading role in scaling the EVM. Our work on Starknet is easily transferable to EVM chains like zkSync. When smart wallets become first-class citizens on those networks, we will return.

Why isn’t Argent a multichain wallet?

When EVM networks, such as Arbitrum or Optimism, embrace smart wallets, we'll consider deploying on them. Until then, there are real constraints on the value we (or other smart wallets) can provide on them. We believe that new users will come for use cases, not to be on a specific chain. We want to build a wallet for the next billion users, and Starknet allows us to do this.

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