Author: Jay FP, Four Pillars of Cryptographic Research; Translator: LianGuaixiaozou
Main Points of this Article:
· Web3 has always been a focus of attention because it has the potential to create a participant-centered symmetrical market, where participants can independently control and share their own data and content based on blockchain technology.
· Identity is a key factor in the interaction between entities. However, the current Web3 stack lacks a comprehensive identity that can interact with various applications and different types of interactions.
· CyberConnect is creating a social graph that defines a comprehensive identity through account abstraction and building a user experience similar to Web2 and a participant-centered creative economy.
· As one of the most agile companies in the field of Web3, CyberConnect has attracted most ERC4337 smart contract wallets to view account abstraction use cases and integrate existing technologies such as DID & VC and ZKP, with huge potential for further innovation.
· In addition, CyberConnect is considered one of the protocols closest to Web3 adoption, with a wide ecosystem and the largest user base, which can translate technology into new experiences and share them.
1. Account Abstraction for Web3 Adoption
(1) The Rise of Web3
The development of information technology and the increasing amount of time people spend online have given rise to various digital interactions. In particular, social media platforms, which were initially created for socializing, have gradually infiltrated people’s lifestyles and become powerful channels for marketing, information search, and other purposes. As a result, top social media platforms have become increasingly large, creating new types of participants and markets, such as “content creators,” “influencers,” and the “creative economy.” In this market, it is important to “stand out” from the crowd, and identity has become a way to increase personal value and social influence, and individual content is no longer just interactive content consumed once.
However, with the development of the creative economy, concerns about its sustainability have also grown. Centralized media platforms maximize their advertising revenue by exploiting user data, taking a large share from content creators. Despite the poor incentive mechanism, content creators are still forced to continue working with large media platforms because they have no other choice. Media platforms are increasingly focused on one-way communication from brands to individuals, resulting in the spread of biased content and a compromised user interaction experience.
In order to restore smooth interaction between people in social media and the creative economy, and to not lose sight of the original intent, a new way of participant interaction and a new sustainable market structure need to emerge. Currently, Web3 is considered a promising alternative solution – by using blockchain technology, users can have complete control over their own data and content, and decide how to share them without relying on any centralized platforms. As the distribution path of creative works can be transparently traced, content creators can design a reasonable revenue structure for themselves. In addition, creators can inject attributes into their creative works or issue their own tokens to redefine their mode of interaction or align incentive structures with the community. In short, the existing creator economy is driven by a centralized and inefficient market, while the Web3 creator economy can ultimately become a participant-centered symmetrical market.
(2) Lack of Identity Middleware in Web3
However, the popularity of Web3 still seems to have a long way to go. There are many reasons for this, but the most obvious reason is inconvenience and lack of interactivity. Looking back at the early days of the Internet, we couldn’t really interact with many different participants, we could only receive information from the information sender. However, with the introduction of identity models that can describe personal characteristics, a certain level of mutual trust is established, and the Internet has begun to experience a wave of innovation and broader interaction.
That’s right, identity is the key driving factor for interaction, it allows people to know each other better. Therefore, in order to have extensive interaction in the Web3 world, a comprehensive identity must be defined according to the Web3 syntax – however, there is currently no clear implementation mechanism.
The inconvenience and risks caused by the lack of a comprehensive identity fall entirely on the end users. In addition to not being able to interact with different web3 services, users must also go through a series of complex processes required by these services to use them, and they must also securely manage the central accounts of all these services.
We usually refer to this as a “user experience problem”, although Web3 is currently receiving a lot of attention, the user experience problem is still a major bottleneck for the public to adopt Web3. Therefore, if we assume that something like identity middleware that can define a comprehensive identity can appear to solve these inconveniences, then it must have the following attributes.
· It should support permanent identity and guarantee interaction with different types of applications.
· It should adopt a scalable and flexible storage structure to support various data required for defining identity.
· The data contained in the identity should be controlled in a voluntary and flexible manner.
2. Account Abstraction to Unlock Identity Middleware
The recently active discussion on “Account Abstraction (AA)” can meet most of the above attributes and greatly help build identity middleware in the Web3 stack – the main idea of account abstraction is to convert existing wallets into “smart contract wallets” by allowing contract accounts to send transactions and sign them. In other words, existing accounts that can only initiate and send transactions can now embed different functionalities, making them as easy to manage as any other Web2 identity account.
These functionalities not only include advanced transaction logic, but also methods to control accounts through key management services, and define data associated with accounts, and so on. This means that the security logic and data required for identity can be integrated into the underlying accounts – or simply put, account abstraction allows us to inject the concept of identity into existing accounts.
Specifically, a smart contract wallet can support various functionalities (including but not limited to the following) to ensure a diverse and flexible user experience:
· Customizable Signature Scheme
Currently, EOA only uses the ECDSA signature algorithm. However, if account abstraction is implemented, other signature algorithms such as Schnorr, BLS, or post-quantum algorithms can also be used.
· Flexible Payment of Gas Fees
By delegating the payment of gas fees to others (or applications) or allowing users to pay gas fees with various tokens, the flexibility of user service interaction can be increased.
· Batch Transactions
By deploying logic to process multiple transactions at once, the cost of contract execution can be saved.
· Signature Abstraction
Custom logic can be deployed to support effective verification under certain conditions – this allows users to restrict transactions for specific targets using whitelist/blacklist management, set the lifespan of signatures using time-locking functionality, and use logic (such as requiring multiple signatures for transactions above a certain amount).
· Authentication and Key Management
Users can freely add, delete, and modify permissions for multiple accounts, and can also improve existing transaction experiences using MFA (multi-factor authentication) and session keys.
3, ERC4337 and the Brief History of AA
In fact, the concept of account abstraction has been around for some time. The Ethereum Improvement Proposal “Abstracting transaction origin and signature (EIP 86)” in 2016 was the first step towards account abstraction. Since then, many other proposals have further developed this concept, and the keyword “account abstraction” was born – among the different candidate standards, the relatively newer ERC 4337 proposal has received the most attention and is the most advanced, as it can achieve account abstraction without changing the consensus layer. Account abstraction and ERC4337 have become more popular, and Vitalik Buterin has also emphasized the importance of implementing this aspect. Now there are a considerable number of projects turning to adopt ERC4337.
Below is a brief process of a smart contract wallet implemented using ERC4337.
– Users send a smart contract wallet named UserOperation to the UserOperation memory pool through the smart contract – here, UserOperation can contain various logics, not just simple token transfers. The UserOperation memory pool is an independent memory pool separate from the existing memory pool used to process transactions on the network.
– Bundler bundles the UserOperations with the highest fees together and packs them into a Bundle transaction.
– Bundler accepts this Bundle transaction and calls a smart contract named EntryPoint – Bundler simulates the validity of each UserOperation’s signature and gas payment capability, and submits the Bundle transaction along with the included fees to EntryPoint.
– (Optional) Users can choose to use a feature named LianGuaiymaster to pay gas fees on behalf of other entities, or pay gas fees with other tokens such as ERC20 tokens.
– EntryPoint is responsible for verifying each UserOperation and executing this UserOperation on the network – Bundler only simulates UserOperations, while EntryPoint actually verifies UserOperations. If the verification is successful, the entity generating the UserOperations will pay a predetermined fee to Bundler, and if there is any remaining gas fee after execution, it will also be refunded to Bundler.
In summary, account abstraction brings the existing principles of smart contracts running on the network to the application layer, configuring specific logic for each account (steps 1-4 in the diagram), and using a contract called EntryPoint on the network to validate and execute all of this logic (step 5 in the diagram).
The flexibility of ERC4337 allows smart contract wallets to integrate with various existing technologies, in addition to the functionalities mentioned above. For example, it can enhance identity or data privacy by using decentralized identifiers (DID), verifiable credentials (VC), and zero-knowledge proofs (ZKP). Therefore, since OpenZeppelin conducted a code audit, ERC4337 has regained a lot of interest from many projects, which have quickly adopted ERC4337 or are exploring it through experimentation.
4. CyberConnect, using AA’s Web3 social middleware
CyberConnect was one of the first to adopt ERC4337 and attempted to combine it with other existing technologies such as ZKP, leading the development in the Web3 field. By deploying the full functionality of ERC4337 and applying it flexibly to a wider user base and ecosystem, CyberConnect has maximized the use cases of smart contract wallets.
(1) Introduction to CyberConnect
CyberConnect is a Web3 social middleware project where various social applications can be created on top of the middleware provided by CyberConnect. It is currently preparing for an update, Version 3, which includes the application of ERC4337. With this update, CyberConnect envisions a social network that allows users to create chain-agnostic accounts and focuses on a creative economy driven by Web2-style user experience and participants. Creators and consumers can use their overall identity to navigate different platforms, achieve a content-based community economy, have the best user experience, and developers can access all of this data to build a more prosperous ecosystem.
(2) Three Pillars of CyberConnect
CyberConnect has three core elements: 1) Identity, which is the center of all interactions; 2) Social graph, representing various entity relationships; 3) Network, supporting data solutions and smooth communication.
CyberAccount is the core identity of creators and consumers in the CyberConnect ecosystem. Its compatibility with ERC4337 and ERC6900 allows users to enjoy an enhanced user experience when interacting with applications, as they can use account abstraction functionalities such as LianGuaiymaster, social recovery, permission management, and relay transactions. CyberAccount integrates data from both Web3 and Web2-based social media platforms like Twitter and Discord. This allows users to have full control over all their social data. There is also a specialized account for teams, organizations, and brands called “Organization Account,” which provides advanced account management features such as multisignature and customizable access control rules.
CyberAccount can have a separate handle called “CyberID” – because CyberAccount can store so much information, only the necessary information is displayed in each interaction through a simple profile display. CyberID is represented by ‘.cyber’ and is dedicated to interacting with applications that have certain identity information, such as basic personal information, username, avatar, metadata, etc. However, CyberID must be regularly updated. If the regular updates are forgotten, these handles will be publicly auctioned.
CyberGraph is a social graph that receives CyberAccount metadata and activities, records and stores them, and represents the necessary data. In addition to identity information, the data flowing through CyberGraph also includes (ERC721-based) collections, subscriptions, content, W3ST (Web3 State Token, SBT based on ERC1155, which defines the state of each user in a specific community), and other off-chain managed information.
On traditional Web2 social media platforms, social interactions (or social environments) are difficult to cross multiple worlds without connecting to a centralized entity, forcing participants to either lock themselves into the platform or give up their identity and assets to start from scratch on a new platform. With CyberGraph, participants can continue to interact with the information they have accumulated on various platforms through CyberAccount, with little or no switching costs between these platforms. Developers can support the expansion of the ecosystem through data APIs and various tools.
CyberConnect aims to include data from the Web2 and Web3 domains (or off-chain and on-chain) and operate efficiently and seamlessly. CyberNetwork is a gas-saving and scalable L2 network designed to smoothly acquire such data. In the coming months, the network will be further upgraded and integrated into CyberConnect.
5. Comparison with other protocols
Protocols often compared to CyberConnect in the industry include Lens Protocol, Farcaster, and DeSo. While they all build user-owned profiles and social graphs, their approaches and protocol designs differ slightly. This article briefly compares the key features that influence each approach and discusses the differences of CyberConnect.
· These four protocols all have a common mission, which is to emphasize scalable and flexible interaction through identity accounts. Currently, only CyberConnect has fully implemented account abstraction through ERC4337 – CyberConnect is one of the earliest adopters of the account abstraction concept, and the largest number of ERC4337-based smart contract wallets in the industry have started using CyberConnect to create chain-agnostic interaction use cases across multiple chains (as of August 16, the number of wallets adopting it exceeded 450,000). On the other hand, DeSo does not directly adopt the account abstraction-related standards, but introduces some account abstraction capabilities through “Derived Keys” for authorizing other entities to sign transactions. The remaining protocols use NFTs to define identity accounts but have not fully implemented account abstraction.
· Another significant difference is the “base chain.” When a protocol depends on a specific chain, it can quickly absorb the user base of that chain, which is a benefit but also has drawbacks such as limited customization of infrastructure configuration and interoperability. While Lens and Farcaster depend on a single chain, CyberConnect supports multiple EVM-compatible chains such as Polygon, Linea, Arbitrum, Base – Optimism, opBNB, and will soon support more chains. DeSo recognizes the limitations of implementing Web3 on a general-purpose chain, so it has built its own first layer specifically for Web3 social graphs.
· “Data storage” is another significant differentiating factor. CyberConnect and Farcaster adopt a hybrid approach, utilizing both on-chain (including decentralized storage solutions) and off-chain methods. CyberConnect stores identity and primary interaction data on-chain, while storing other interaction data off-chain. On the other hand, Farcaster attempts to store as little data as possible on-chain and utilizes off-chain solutions to store the remaining data. Other protocols default to storing all data on-chain, but Lens stores some data other than identity on decentralized solutions such as Arweave or IPFS, rather than storing everything on the underlying chain. These strategic differences arise from the trade-off between the value and convenience each protocol aims to provide for its users.
· CyberConnect and DeSo have relatively low barriers to entry for users to create accounts, while Farcaster and Lens restrict account creation to specific users or events by default (or profiles). As a result, there is a significant difference in the number of registered accounts between these protocols. Interestingly, this fact seems to also influence the nature of each community – CyberConnect’s community is organized around sharing event information, introducing applications, and interacting with applications, Lens leans towards artists and creators, and Farcaster leans towards participants engaging in productive discussions. As for DeSo, it doesn’t seem to have any clear trends yet.
While some key differences have been mentioned, the fact is that the perceived user experience of each protocol will vary from user to user, so it is best for users to try each application and choose the protocol that suits them best.
Another crucial point to consider is the macro direction of the project, especially the direction it is improving in – building the infrastructure for Web3 is still in its early stages, so comparing protocols within the current timeframe may be meaningless. Therefore, instead of analyzing technical stacks, statistics, business models, etc., it is more important in the long run to judge how quickly each protocol adopts the latest technology and adapts to future changes in a flexible manner.
From this perspective, CyberConnect may be the most flexible and agile because it quickly adopts the latest technology, builds a diverse ecosystem, spreads relevant experiences to as many users as possible, and improves its core value (i.e., overall identity) based on user feedback.
6. Ecosystem, Token economics, etc.
(1) Ecosystem from statistical data
The combination of various interactions and collaborations from a broader ecosystem can enhance the influence of identity and drive more user adoption.
Since its launch, CyberConnect has successfully raised a total of $25 million in two rounds of financing and has now developed into a broad ecosystem that fully realizes the use cases of account-based smart contract wallets – with over 1.4 million account logins, over 1.8 million pieces of content, over 11 million collections, about 60,000+ WAUs and over 400,000+ MAUs (subject to some changes). In particular, as mentioned earlier, CyberAccount achieved the largest scale adoption of 450,000+ within about 3 weeks of its launch, demonstrating its dominance in the account-based smart contract wallet industry.
In the CyberConnect ecosystem, there are a large number of interactive applications that users can use, including social media platforms, membership, entertainment, NFT market/issuance platforms, etc. There are over 50 applications in the CyberConnect ecosystem that can interact with CyberAccount in different ways, making full use of the account abstraction feature.
The diversity of interactions in the CyberConnect ecosystem can also be seen from the diagram above. Until early 2023, the interaction rate has been dominated by Link3, the first-party community application created by the CyberConnect team, which allows users to easily create and manage their own profiles, as well as participate in community sharing and learn from different sources of information. However, since March, various applications such as CyberTune (a music NFT platform) and Attic (a community-based NFT platform) have emerged and developed on CyberConnect alongside Link3.
CyberAccount users can interact with multiple applications through participation in cyberTrek rewards programs or Link3’s FanClub activities, further exploring the CyberConnect ecosystem.
(2) CYBER Token Economics and CyberConnect Milestones
The native token of CyberConnect, CYBER, not only serves as the basic token for chain-agnostic interactions within the CyberConnect ecosystem but also acts as the primary voting power for the prosperity of the ecosystem.
Governance – CYBER token holders have the voting power to improve the CyberConnect protocol and can delegate their voting power to other entities. The scope of governance includes:
· Changing payment methods and fee structures
· Adopting new base chains
· Allocating funds for ecosystem development, such as grants and community contribution projects
· Organizing online and offline activities to promote the ecosystem, etc.
CyberAccount Gas Token – In the multi-chain ecosystem of CyberConnect, CYBER is used as the gas payment method for all transaction types.
Payment method for CyberID
The most important update for CyberConnect in the third quarter will be the launch of CyberDAO, aimed at improving multi-chain interactions. In addition, there are plans to continue working with six chains (Ethereum, BNB, Optimism, Arbitrum, Polygon, and Base) to promote CyberAccount use cases through CyberTrek.
Login-SDK and CyberWallet app will be released in the fourth quarter, and CyberNetwork and developer funding programs will be launched next year.
7. DID & VC, and the potential opportunities of ZKP
In Web3, there are several so-called “game-changers” – DID (decentralized identifier), VC (verifiable credential), and ZKP (zero-knowledge proof) being a few of them. DID & VC are technologies or specifications that decentralize the concept of SSI (self-sovereign identity), allowing users to control their identity information and protect their privacy and security. ZKP is an encryption technology that can prove the validity of information without revealing specific details.
They are particularly concerned in Web3 because their technology is very suitable for blockchain, enhancing the autonomy of identity – here, enhancing the autonomy of identity means that people can have more sovereignty over their identity information, allowing users to better express themselves by eliminating information asymmetry among users by reducing reliance on third-party data, thus achieving different types of interactions based on greater trust.
(1) DID & VC
Currently, the environment in which individuals can interact on-chain and off-chain is separate. However, if the DID and VC stacks are connected to CyberAccount, it can provide a truly new user experience because the stack covers the entire digital and real world in which individuals operate.
For example, if a government (or highly trusted entity) in the real world has a smart contract wallet like CyberAccount, which grants individuals citizenship (or the corresponding means of expressing personal identity) as a VC, then individuals can interact on the blockchain in the same comprehensive way as they do in the real world – since the introduction of personal identity models and federated identity models on the Internet in the early days, we have seen explosive adoption of various types of interactions on the network. On the contrary, if on-chain activities are also stored in the form of VCs in DIDs, individuals can use them to create multi-dimensional identity representations, enabling them to engage in various activities with specific purposes in the real world. Ultimately, these cases can promote significant synergy between the real world and the Web3 world, making each space more reliable.
(2) ZKP (Zero-knowledge proof)
Although identity tools based on smart contracts (such as CyberAccount) claim to be able to control their data and manage external disclosure data, all on-chain data is public, which means there is a risk of data exposure to non-targeted parties or being tracked. In addition, in CyberGraph, an individual’s identity information includes not only static information but also contextual or dynamic information, such as statements and interactions. Therefore, by embedding ZKP into its infrastructure, CyberConnect will be able to provide users with a fully contextualized experience, in which the social environment users encounter is tailored to the specific application they are using. Due to privacy concerns, this new experience is not possible on existing social media platforms.
Alternatively, CyberAccount can drive the adoption of ZKP. The cost of verifying ECDSA signatures (traditional signatures of EOA) through ZKP is very high. If a smart contract wallet adopts a ZKP-friendly signature scheme through account abstraction, these limitations can be overcome, and the advantages of ZKP can be more fully utilized throughout the network.
In summary, smart contract accounts can not only enhance overall identity but also interact with different existing technologies, with excellent external scalability. In this regard, CyberConnect is the best place to understand how to achieve this external scalability in practice and create which interactions and use cases. Because it adopts the most flexible protocols with new technologies, it has the largest user base for smart contract wallets and a wide ecosystem.
8. Beyond technology, towards new experiences
As digital technology continues to develop in the future, online interactions between individuals will become more complex, and the importance of the creative economy may become even more significant. Therefore, blockchain-based Web3 is gaining a lot of attention as an alternative solution for a sustainable creative economy. In particular, the concept of smart contract wallets based on account abstraction can eliminate many complexities and limitations of existing blockchain-based accounts, helping to define the Web3 identity concept and enhancing the innovation of Web3 through synergy with other technologies.
However, even with such innovative qualities, their true value cannot be realized unless they are ultimately chosen by the public. If the definition of the technology being adopted is a moment when a new experience spreads among the crowd, then Web3 has spent a lot of time defining new experiences, but less time discussing how they should be disseminated.
We see that different interactions on social media platforms such as Facebook (Meta) are being transformed into new experiences and adopted by a large number of users. Artificial intelligence has also been regarded as a promising technology, but it is only through the dissemination of various experiences that the GPT model has been widely adopted so rapidly. Therefore, simply attributing the gap between the adoption and innovation of Web3 to technological accessibility or user experience issues is not convincing, so focusing on improving these issues is not the only way to achieve widespread adoption of Web3.
In this sense, CyberConnect is the protocol that comes closest to achieving widespread adoption of Web3 – CyberConnect not only quickly grasps and integrates cutting-edge technologies that can enhance the core value of Web3, but also transforms these synergies into new experiences based on its largest user base and ecosystem. In other words, CyberConnect is the present situation of Web3, the place where better technology, value, and experiences are disseminated.