What is Social Recovery?

Hassle-free wallet recovery, without needing seed phrases

Nov 4, 2022
Edward Wilson

Quick summary

Social recovery is a way to recover your wallet without using a seed phrase while being fully non-custodial. It’s Vitalik Buterin’s preferred wallet recovery method, and in this article, we explain how it works.

What are seed phrases?

A seed phrase is a randomly generated list of 12 to 24 words used to create your wallet. The wallet uses the seed phrase to generate the private key - a string of letters and numbers -  required for signing transactions. Should you ever need to restore your wallet because you forgot your password or change devices, you will need your seed phrase. Without it, there is no chance of recovery, and your funds will be lost.

How do you store your seed phrase?

Seed phrases are the most common way to recover your wallet. Whether you use a hardware wallet like Ledger or a browser extension wallet like Metamask, you will most likely have generated and hopefully stored your seed phrase.

The most common ways to store your seed phrase are:

Seed phrases are inconvenient 

The security of your funds depends on your ability to keep your seed phrase safe. This requires you to be organized, meticulous, and cautious when it comes to storing your seed phrase. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most of us. Our brain often favors the easiest path, minimizing risk and maximizing convenience.

But risk is right around the corner when it comes to stealing money. And sadly, there are so many examples illustrating this.

For the unlucky few, it can happen more than once.

Browser wallets, albeit popular and convenient, pose the most significant weaknesses.

And if you want to use best practices, crypto wallet security is expensive and time-consuming.

This shows that the seed phrase approach used by most wallets is outdated, and an alternative is needed that doesn’t compromise on convenience or your security.

The solution?! Social recovery

Social recovery is a way to recover your wallet without seed phrases or centralization. No wonder it’s Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin’s preferred method for securing a wallet. It uses smart contracts, and Vitalik describes it best with a graphic:

a graphic from Vitalik Buterin explaining how social recovery works

When you create a social recovery wallet, like Argent, a smart contract gets deployed onto the Ethereum network representing your wallet. The contract has a single key, used to sign transactions. Additionally, the contract uses “guardians” to add an additional layer of security. Guardians approve transactions to untrusted addresses, but their main role is to improve the recovery process. For example, if you lose your key, a majority set of guardians (3 of 5) can change the signing key to your new key, giving you access again. 

Guardians can be other wallets you own, such as MetaMask or different devices with wallets on them like a Ledger. You may add trusted friends or family members or use Argent’s two-factor authenticator through phone or email, which is activated and added by default when creating a wallet. You can have as many guardians as you want and can easily add them with the tap of a button. Using other people as guardians is not mandatory. 

Recovering your wallet

Once your wallet is set up and guardians are added, recovering your account is super easy.  

If you’re using Argent, all you need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Download or open the Argent app.
  2. Enter your Argent username to create a request.
  3. Use guardians to approve your request to recover your wallet. 

That’s it. All without needing to use a seed phrase!

Social recovery will be coming to Argent X, the most popular and only open-source wallet for StarkNet.

Maximize security. Minimize friction.

With social recovery, your wallet is easily recoverable without compromising security. 

Sleep easy knowing your crypto is secure. 

Take control with Argent

A simple, all-in-one crypto wallet with bulletproof security. Buy, stake, earn and trade with low fees. Join our global community.

Download Argent

Related Articles

What is zkSync?

Scaling Ethereum with affordable, fast and secure transactions

What is Layer 2 on Ethereum?

Enjoy cheaper fees (gas) and faster transactions as Ethereum scales

What is Web 3.0?

It's the next stage of the internet, but what is it?

Own It

We use 🍪 cookies to personalise your experience on Argent. Privacy Policy


HQ London, made with ❤️ across Europe