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4 Years in the Making: Pectra Upgrade to Bring Wallet Smart Contracts, Sparks EIP-3074 Debate

After nearly four years of anticipation since its initial proposal, Ethereum developers are now setting their sights on the inclusion of EIP-3074 in Ethereum’s next upgrade, affectionately dubbed Pectra, slated for release later this year.

EIP-3074 brings a wave of enhancements to the user experience of typical wallets by enabling certain functions to be delegated to smart contracts. These improvements open the door to features such as approving a large batch of transactions simultaneously, paying gas fees in different ERC20 tokens, bolstering security measures or facilitating account recovery, among others. However, it falls short of full account abstraction, as the delegated wallet lacks the ability to initiate transactions.

In a recent post on X, Tim Beiko, the protocol support lead at the Ethereum Foundation, expressed unanimity among teams regarding the advancement of EIP-3074. “All things considered, teams were in agreement about moving forward with the EIP. 3074 will be included in Pectra,” Beiko stated.

Despite the widespread support, developers have highlighted a potential vulnerability introduced by EIP-3074: a single malicious transaction could potentially drain an entire wallet through a batched transaction. While this revelation may instill fear, experts like Dan Finlay, the co-founder of MetaMask, have offered reassurance, asserting that robust wallet design can mitigate this risk effectively.

“I’m not aware of a consumer wallet today that is vulnerable to this risk. That was an early research audit task,” Finlay explained. “All a wallet has to do to eliminate this risk is to disallow blind signing opaque hashes, and also not allow signing with this reserved prefix.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Hayden Adams, the founder of Uniswap, pointed out the upside of this vulnerability, emphasizing its potential to drive improvements in wallet user experience and enhance security measures.

However, amidst the enthusiasm surrounding EIP-3074, some developers have raised concerns about the latest iteration of the proposal, which underwent modifications to garner support.

One significant alteration allows for the revocation of account delegation but also automatically revokes any authorization upon the next transaction. This means that while EIP-3074 may streamline certain processes, users would need to reauthorize applications for each subsequent transaction, limiting functionalities such as standing limit orders and social recovery, as noted by Adams.

Furthermore, another amendment restricts the proposal’s ability to impact multiple chains simultaneously. Developer Philippe Dumonet highlighted this limitation, indicating that even for identical authorizations across multiple chains, separate signatures would be required for each chain.

As Ethereum’s Pectra upgrade edges closer to fruition, with an expected completion in late 2024 or early 2025, according to The Block, the community remains eagerly anticipative of the transformative potential that EIP-3074 holds for the Ethereum ecosystem.

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