The ultimate non-custodial test

How Argent keeps your assets safe — even if the worst happens

Matthew Wright
Nov 28, 2019
Ensuring you are always in control of your assets

The unique benefit of a non-custodial wallet is to give you control. The wallet should never be able to access your assets or prevent you from accessing them yourself.

The ultimate test of this is: what would happen if the company that built the wallet shut down? Or was cracked down on by a malicious government?

Custodial wallets, like Coinbase and Binance, would leave you exposed. Importantly, so too would some non-custodial wallets.

Some multi-signature wallets require a signature from the wallet provider. They can never access your assets but, if they don’t sign your transaction, you have no access either.

With Argent, on the other hand, you’re protected. You can always access your assets and move them to another wallet of your choice. In short, shut down does not mean shut out.

Here’s how.

How Argent gives you independence — even from Argent itself

Before explaining our solution it’s worth noting two important aspects of Argent.

1. Argent is a Smart Contract Wallet

Every Argent user’s assets are held on a smart contract that only they control. You access these assets using your private key, which is securely stored on your phone. Even if something happened to Argent as a company, the smart contracts holding your assets would remain live on the Ethereum blockchain.

2. Argent uses Meta-Transactions and Relayers

To help users avoid the hassle of dealing with gas every time they transact we take care of it on their behalf. We do this using meta-transactions.

With meta-transactions, users sign an intent to transact. This intent is then sent to a relayer that broadcasts the transaction to the Ethereum network.

With these factors in mind, we considered a couple of potential solutions.

How you can withdraw your assets

The first potential solution involved exposing the private key to allow users to back-up the wallet themselves.

This was too insecure.

Exposing the private key risks you losing it or someone else stealing it. Unlike other wallets, we do mitigate those potential risks. You’d still be protected by your daily withdrawal limit and the ability to lock your wallet. Regardless, the risk is best avoided altogether.

The next option was to open-source a relayer and allow the user to change the URL of the relayer within the app.

This option wasn’t user-friendly

Today, the app uses the Argent relayer and it would be possible to use another relayer but we aren’t comfortable with this option due to the lack of standards in this space. Implementing our own would require duplicative effort once standards do emerge.

So, we found another option: the Argent Emergency Kit

The Emergency Kit

Argent’s Emergency Kit allows you to move your assets out of Argent using any Ethereum wallet you choose.

You can think of the Emergency Kit as using Argent as a hardware wallet, meaning Argent is used to sign a transaction but not to submit it online.

To use it you:

  1. Prepare your transaction in Argent: choose the asset you want to move and to which address.
  2. Sign the transaction in Argent and submit it using any other Ethereum wallet you choose. You could, for example, sign a transaction in Argent but submit the transaction using MetaMask and MyEtherWallet.

This means that even if our entire infrastructure disappeared you could simply submit transactions manually. You’d still have the app on your phone, even if the app was removed from the app store.

Here’s what it looks like in practice:

In short, you’re always in control.

This is live on iOS and Android. For a step-by-step guide, please click here.

Stay up to date with our latest news: @argenthq

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