User Experience & Wallets - Part 1

In the intricate landscape of blockchain technology, integrating a wallet into a web application is a decision that demands meticulous consideration. The choices are vast, and the implications of each option can significantly impact the functionality, security, and user experience of your platform.

This series of 3 articles is designed to be your compass in navigating the myriad of Wallet solutions offerings in the market. In this series, we aim to provide insights to help you select the right wallet solution for your platform's unique needs. While proud of our Eniblock Wallet-as-a-Service, we understand that different platforms have varied requirements. We won't push our solution or name competitors, but will focus on essential criteria and features.

In this first article, we'll explore User Experience (UX), a key factor in the success of an integrated blockchain wallet. We'll delve into its importance, ensuring your choice aligns with your platform's goals and resonates with users. The subsequent articles in this series will delve deeper into security and integration aspects, further guiding your selection process.

WalletConnect vs Standalone Wallets vs WaaS

Integration with WalletConnect

WalletConnect is an open protocol designed to establish a secure connection between web applications and various crypto wallets. While it's widely recognized for its QR code mechanism, where users scan a code with their mobile wallet to initiate a connection, it's not limited to this method. Some wallets are directly integrated with WalletConnect, allowing for immediate linkage. Additionally, for wallets operating on desktops, users have the option to copy and paste a unique link to establish the connection. This versatility ensures a broader range of compatibility and offers users multiple convenient ways to connect their already existing wallets to web applications.

Pros:

  • Broad Compatibility: Allows users with existing wallets to connect seamlessly.
  • Reduced Overhead: No need to develop or maintain a wallet; the focus is solely on integration.
  • User Autonomy: Users have the freedom to choose their preferred wallet.
  • Anonymity: The user identity (eg. email) is never revealed to the application.
  • Free of charge.

Cons:

  • Onboarding for Web2 Users: Users that are not familiar with DApps will struggle to create a wallet using external tools.
  • Dependence on External Wallets: The quality of the user experience is tied to the external wallets users choose.
  • Potential Security Concerns: Relying on multiple external wallets can introduce varied security standards.

Standalone External Wallets

A standalone wallet is an independent digital tool or application designed specifically for managing, storing, and transacting with cryptocurrencies. Unlike integrated solutions, standalone wallets operate on their own platform or application, requiring users to navigate away from their primary platform to conduct blockchain-related activities. They offer a dedicated environment, often with enhanced features, but can sometimes disrupt the user's journey due to the need to switch between platforms.

Pros:

  • No Development Hassle: Platforms don't need to worry about wallet maintenance or updates.
  • Established Trust: Users might trust established external wallets more due to their reputation in the market.

Cons:

  • User Intimidation: New or less tech-savvy users might feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the prospect of creating a new wallet account, especially if they're unfamiliar with the concept of a blockchain wallet.
  • Disjointed Experience: Users are redirected away from the platform, which can disrupt the user journey.
  • Limited Control: Any changes or issues with the external wallet can impact the user experience, and the platform has little to no control over it.

Wallet-as-a-Service (WaaS) with Custom UX

WaaS is a cloud-based service that provides businesses with an integrated wallet solution, eliminating the need to develop one from scratch. It offers a seamless user experience by embedding the wallet functionality directly within a platform or application. This ensures users can conduct transactions and manage their assets without leaving the primary interface. WaaS solutions often come with customizable features, allowing businesses to tailor the wallet's appearance and functionalities to align with their brand and user needs.

Pros:

  • Tailored Experience: Allows platforms to design a user experience (UX) that aligns with their brand and user expectations.
  • Seamless Integration: Being embedded within the platform, it offers users a unified experience without the need to navigate away.
  • Control over the UX: The platform has more control over updates, features, and security measures.
  • Shadow Wallets: Some WaaS technologies allow the creation of 'shadow wallets' which are almost transparent to the end-user, making the experience smoother for those unfamiliar with blockchain wallets.

Cons:

  • Development Overhead: Requires resources for UX design, continuous updates, and maintenance.

Summary

Choosing the right wallet integration approach for your platform is a decision that hinges on your specific requirements, user base, and desired user experience.

While we've outlined the pros and cons of each method, it's essential to remember that these solutions are not mutually exclusive. For instance, a platform can offer a WaaS solution for users who prefer an integrated experience and simultaneously provide WalletConnect support for those who already have their preferred external wallets.

By understanding the strengths and limitations of each approach, platforms can craft a wallet integration strategy that offers flexibility, security, and a seamless user experience to boost adoption.

Software Installation vs. No Installation

When evaluating wallet solutions, one of the pivotal considerations is the necessity of software installation on the end user's device.

Some wallet services mandate the installation of dedicated software or applications to facilitate transactions and manage assets. It's important to note that certain Wallet-as-a-Service (WaaS) solutions may specifically require integration within a mobile app, which could influence your decision based on your platform's primary access points.

Browser extension wallets, like MetaMask, offer a distinct advantage: omnipresence. Once installed, these wallets are always accessible directly within the browser, providing users with a seamless experience as they navigate the web. While this approach can offer a tailored experience, it can also pose barriers to adoption. Users might be hesitant to download and install unfamiliar software, and compatibility issues across different devices and operating systems can arise.

On the flip side, there are wallet solutions that operate seamlessly without requiring any software installation. These browser-based or cloud solutions provide users with immediate access to their assets from any device with internet connectivity. The advantage here is clear: a frictionless onboarding experience and universal accessibility. However, it's essential to ensure that such solutions maintain rigorous security standards, given they operate without device-specific installations.

When making a choice, it's essential to consider the user experience and the specific needs of the application. Both approaches have their merits, and the best choice often depends on the target audience and the nature of the application.

User Onboarding and Authentication

User onboarding and authentication play pivotal roles in ensuring a smooth user experience while maintaining robust security. When integrating a wallet solution, understanding the various authentication methods available is crucial.

Social Login

Pros:

  • Familiarity: Users are accustomed to social logins, making the process feel intuitive.
  • Speed: Quick onboarding as users don't need to fill out extensive registration forms.
  • Security: Social Login identity providers usually offer a high level of security, such as multifactor authentication or geolocation based access management.

Cons:

  • Privacy Concerns: Some users might be wary of sharing data from their social profiles.

When considering social login as an authentication method, it's essential to understand its nuances. Predominantly, there are two types of social login implementations in the context of wallet solutions:

External Account Creation: This is the most common approach where the user, upon creating or accessing a wallet, is prompted to create an account with the wallet service provider (be it a WaaS or a standalone wallet). In this scenario, the user ends up with two accounts: one on the integrator's platform and another on the wallet provider's side. This can sometimes lead to confusion and a fragmented user experience.

An example of this experience would be as if: You create an account at Walmart for instance and suddenly in the middle of the onboarding you are required to create another account, again, but this time for the wallet provider you don’t know and probably did not specifically ask for. Most of the time, about 90% of users drop the onboarding at this point for lack of trust or confusion.

Integrated User Base: Some advanced technologies seamlessly integrate with the integrator's existing user base. This means that when a user opts for social login, no additional account is created for the wallet component. The experience remains unified, and the user interacts with a single account, enhancing the overall user journey.

An example of this experience would be as if : You create an account at Walmart for instance and once your account is created, your wallet account has been created seamlessly at the same time thanks to the information provided in the Walmart account creation without asking you twice or redirecting you to the wallet provider page, email or pop-up.

It's crucial for integrators to be aware of these distinctions and choose a solution that aligns with their platform's user experience goals and the convenience they wish to offer.

PIN Code/Password

Pros:

  • Ubiquity: A familiar method of authentication for most users.

Cons:

  • Memory Reliance: Users have to remember another PIN or password, increasing the chances of forgetfulness.
  • Security Concerns: Susceptible to brute force attacks if not implemented with additional security layers.

Device-linked Passkey

Pros:

  • Enhanced Security: Tied to a specific device, making unauthorized access more challenging.
  • User Experience: Users don't need to remember additional information.

Cons:

  • Limited Portability / Lack of Maturity: Users are restricted to using the wallet on the linked device. Alternatively, they can setup cloud synchronization, but this is not available on all platforms (eg. Chrome on Mac does not offer this feature, nor Windows)

Face Recognition

Pros:

  • Convenience: Quick and hands-free authentication.

Cons:

  • Privacy Concerns: Some users might be uncomfortable with platforms storing their facial data.
  • Lack of maturity: The technology is ever evolving, and many facial recognition systems have been compromised in the past.

Device or Cloud-based Secret Storage

Pros:

  • Effortless Access: Eliminates the need for users to recall supplementary details.

Cons:

  • Permission Concerns: Users may have reservations about granting access, leading to discomfort.

In conclusion, the choice of authentication method should align with the platform's user base, their comfort level. Some modern wallet solutions have managed to eliminate the need for additional authentication without compromising security, representing a promising direction for the future.

User paying Gas vs Gas-less transaction

In the realm of blockchain, the necessity of gas fees for transactions has often been a stumbling block, especially for users unfamiliar with the concept. Traditionally, to initiate any transaction on a blockchain, users must first ensure they have enough funds in their wallet to cover these gas fees. This initial step can deter many, particularly those new to the space.

To address this, wallet service providers have been innovating, offering solutions that allow for a more seamless user experience:

Meta-transactions and Relayers

One of the pioneering solutions to this challenge is the use of meta-transactions. In this approach, users sign transaction details off-chain. These details are then relayed by another entity, known as a relayer, who submits the transaction to the blockchain on the user's behalf. The relayer pays the gas fee, which can later be reimbursed by the original signer or covered by another party. This method abstracts the concept of gas fees from the user, allowing for a more intuitive transaction process.

Paymaster and Account Abstraction

Account Abstraction, while a distinct concept, has drawn significant inspiration from the meta-transaction pattern. It has incorporated a similar feature, known as the Paymaster. In this model, the Paymaster agrees to cover the transaction fees for the user. When an action is initiated, the Paymaster takes on the responsibility of the associated gas fee, ensuring the transaction is processed without any fee being deducted from the user's wallet. This integration within Account Abstraction not only simplifies the user experience but also showcases the evolution and adaptation of previous blockchain innovations to create more refined solutions.

For businesses looking to integrate a blockchain wallet into their platform, understanding these solutions is crucial. By adopting either meta-transactions with relayers or the Paymaster approach with Account Abstraction, platforms can offer a more user-friendly experience, eliminating one of the primary barriers to broader blockchain adoption: gas-fees.

Conclusion

In the rapidly evolving world of blockchain, the user experience is paramount. As we've explored in this article, the choices made in wallet integration, authentication methods, and transaction processes can significantly shape the user's journey and overall satisfaction. While each solution has its merits, it's essential to align the chosen approach with the platform's objectives and the needs of its user base.

However, while a seamless user experience is crucial, it's only one piece of the puzzle. The security of a blockchain wallet is equally, if not more, vital. As platforms become more sophisticated and user bases grow, so too do the threats they face. Ensuring that a wallet is not only user-friendly but also secure is a delicate balancing act.

In our next article, we will delve deep into the security aspects of blockchain wallet integration. From encryption standards to recovery mechanisms, we'll provide a comprehensive overview to ensure that your chosen wallet solution is not only user-friendly but also ironclad in its security.

Stay tuned for a deep dive into the world of blockchain wallet security, and arm yourself with the knowledge to make informed decisions for your platform.

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