Review and Summary of the Conflict between MPC and AA
Recently, Ethereum founder Vitalik has sparked a big discussion on the development of crypto wallet technology route again by criticizing the MPC EOA wallet.
The incident was triggered by Vitalik responding to a question about MPC wallets in an AMA with a netizen, pointing out the “irrevocable key” basic flaw of the MPC EOA wallet, as shown below:
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Vitalik Twitter screenshot
The tweet has sparked many discussions, involving core members of well-known teams such as Coinbase/Zengo/SlowMist. The Chinese community has also started a wave of “clearing MPC’s name” movement, with multiple MPC wallet teams responding to Vitalik’s comments with signed statements. For a while, the crypto community, which has been silent for a long time due to the downturn in the market, has once again raised the long-lost technical breeze.
For the principles and comparison of MPC and AA (Account Abstraction), the latest planning of Ethereum for smart contract wallets, this article will not repeat them. If you are interested, you can refer to the article Seedless Self-Custody: On MPC and Smart Contract Wallets to understand it: the core advantage of MPC is to solve the single-point problem of private key, and the core advantage of AA is programmability.
According to the viewpoints of this discussion, the following summary can be made:
1) The Ethereum core community, represented by Vitalik, has always thought about the development direction, community route planning, and technical solutions from a completely decentralized and full-chain perspective. Therefore, such evaluations of the MPC wallet are understandable;
2) Although MPC keys cannot be revoked “cryptographically”, this does not affect the security construction and large-scale application of MPC wallets;
3) In the small article of the community, some people did not understand the intention of Vitalik’s expression, and some deliberately avoided the presupposed prerequisites such as decentralization implied by Vitalik;
4) It is gratifying to see that some teams are trying to promote the integration of MPC and AA with a more open attitude, rather than simply fighting over technical concepts;
5) There are many people who are enthusiastic about discussing technology, but few who really care about user needs.
Throughout the discussion, the technical part has been quite in place, and each faction has fully expressed its views. However, the biggest regret is the lack of thinking and analysis of the essential needs of users in the discussion. I believe that technology is a means, and satisfying and surpassing user needs is the goal. Solving more user problems and talking less about technical concepts and dogmatism is the prerequisite and foundation for large-scale application.
This article intends to make up for the above regret and focus on discussing users’ real needs: scenarios / pain points / solutions / value, hoping to provide some new perspectives and new thinking for this discussion.
Wallet user’s just need
The author believes that the development of the Crypto industry in the next ten years must achieve Mass Adoption and provide services to users with a scale of 1 billion.
Based on this vision, we need to solve 2 core issues: 1) Where do users come from? 2) Where does the funding come from?
The next wave of potential large-scale users is definitely not technical geeks / unable to understand symmetric and asymmetric encryption technology / may not be able to properly store their mnemonic words.
The next wave of potential large-scale assets may come from asset mapping in the existing financial system, which will inevitably involve corporate users, whose scenarios and demands are vastly different from those of ordinary users.
The following lists two types of user wishes and their needs / pain points in high-frequency scenarios:
The Crypto industry has a widely recognized sentence: Not your keys, not your coins. From this sentence, it can be inferred that decentralized custody is very important.
In fact, this inference does not consider the usage scenarios and implementation difficulties of real users, and the essence is to talk about decentralization. The a16z crypto column article “Wallet Security: The ‘Non-Custodial’ Fallacy” analyzes and explains from the full life cycle of key generation / storage / use, and shows that custody and non-custody are not black or white.
In summary, according to our team’s summary, the core needs of users can be summarized into the following triangular relationship:
This is almost an impossible triangle. Only by combining user scenarios and core needs can we make trade-offs and achieve all three in the product.
How to meet the above needs?
Combining the above descriptions of user wishes and demands, the user’s deep-level needs can be summarized in two sentences:
What users want is asset security, but they cannot require every user to have full-stack security knowledge and skills.
What users want is asset control, not the need to personally control the entire product technology process.
Most of the views in the article come from my colleagues and peers, and the Sinohope product is also built on the excellent work of a group of pioneers in the Crypto and MPC technology fields. Thanks to all of them.
Due to my limited knowledge, there may be many omissions in the article, so please feel free to give feedback.
Seedless Self-Custody: On MPC and Smart Contract Wallets: https://medium.com/1kxnetwork/wallets-91c7c3457578
Wallet Security: The ‘Non-Custodial’ Fallacy：https://a16zcrypto.com/posts/article/wallet-security-non-custodial-fallacy/
Ideal Automobile 2023 Spring Media Sharing Conference Record: https://www.dongchedi.com/article/7206154196855489061
Comparison of TVL of Blockchain Ecosystem: https://coinmarketcap.com/charts/