How Do Meta-transactions Reduce the Barriers to Web3?
Web 3 skeptics and advocates will often concede that the Web 3 UX may not be as good as Web 2. Or How the average user doesn’t care about gas fees, transactions, or decentralization.
There are a couple of derivations that we can make from the arguments above, but for the sake of this essay, let’s consider the most relevant conjectures:
- It’s not entirely right to say that the average user does not care about decentralization and other Web 3 proponents. The user does care about the pillars that form the very fabric of Web 3, but they also have very high expectations of their digital experience. Why?
- All the stack for a better UX in Web 3 that can reduce the barriers of adoption already exists!
We’ll touch upon both these observations throughout the essay.
Why Does the Average User Have Such Expectations for Their Experience in Web3?
Web 2 meant social media, the APIs, and the internet of all things (Alexa play the daily charts on Spotify). All generations of users went from PDAs and desktops to the entire internet in pocket-sized devices. Even your neighborhood grandma could be seen immersed in the depths of Web 2 with her bold Facebook rants. Web 2 brought a new meaning to the tech-adoption cycle while keeping the UX mainstream.
The average user is not heedless of the most recent innovations or tech. In fact, the average user is just too well-versed with the internet and most of the mainstream technology. Web 3 is having a difficult time and major UX problems because the oncoming user base is habituated to extremely easy-to-use apps.
Wall Street in-person investments became investing online in a few clicks with Robinhood, trading options to trading limited edition sneakers, all of it became accessible and easy on StockX and IQ options. Web 1 and Web 2 did not have to face this challenge — the bar for UX and digital abstractions was non-existent for Web 1 and Web 2 because the user was heedless to the technology at large. Web 3, on the other hand, suffers from the peculiar challenge that the next billion users are too used to apps with simple UX with the tech working its magic, hidden behind the scenes.
Why and How Exactly is the UX in Web 2 Better?
Pick any user guide on how to purchase a token or how to mint your first NFT, which usually starts with setting up your MetaMask wallet. As you go through that guide — the problem and the inherent issue with Web 3 become painfully apparent.
Let’s summarize all the issues with Web 3 UX down below:
- The onboarding process in Web 3 dApps is extensive, and Users shouldn’t be bothered paying for gas upfront. First, they need to be encouraged to use the product and provide value within the dApp:
Getting started in Web 3 means downloading and setting up your Web 3 wallets. Signing transactions for authentication every time you interact with new dApps. Another scenario is paying for gas fees for the first time, which is a multi-step journey on its own, on ramping your fiat, finding an exchange, or swapping a different token for ETH or any token of that specific chain. Under transaction coupling, users are also expected to pay for the associate gas fee when they send or execute a transaction.
Blockchain technology and smart contracts are behind these Web 3 dApps. Although block mining and verifying transactions are efficient, the end user will need a secret key for signing transactions, knowledge of blockchain technology in general, and encryption/decryption mechanism. Last but not least, they would need a wallet and suitable tokens so they can pay for gas.
- Web 3 wallet user experience is rudimentary, and while new solutions aim to address these issues, the technology is still nascent:
Web 3 wallets suffer from a lack of multi-chain or even multi-device support. Using Metamask on a desktop and using Metamask on a mobile device are completely different experiences with increasingly clunky and confusing UI. Manual wallet connection for every time a user onboards a dApp reduces user stickiness and hampers user flow.
Visualize using your Apple Wallet or Google pay to pay for something at CVS — the user will never encounter the issues mentioned above. That is precisely why billions of people use Apple pay and Google pay every day.
Web 3 needs a similar concept. It is unrealistic to expect to have the average user base so used to simplified one-click transactions to buy crypto and pay for gas to interact with an application. It is imperative to decouple the user’s role as a transaction sender from their role of acting as the payer. This decoupling can help scale transaction execution while ensuring a seamless UX.
But, if not the user, who/what will execute the transaction?
A middleware acting as the third party will take care of the gas fees.
Enter Meta Transactions
Meta transactions allow Web 3 dApps to abstract seed phrases and gas fees. Meta transactions are created on a simple and elegant concept: using relayers, so the users don’t need to pay gas fees themselves every step of the way. Also called gasless transactions, they involve a trusted forwarder to handle the transaction and its cost.
It’s an innovative way of making transactions in Web 3 as seamless as in Web 2.
How Do Meta Transactions Work?
A meta transaction is an Ethereum transaction that inserts another transaction in the original one. The user signs it using their private key and sends it to the relayer, which verifies it, submits it to the blockchain, and handles the fee. No change to the actual transaction can happen through the relayer — all it does is execute it.
That means you, as the user, don’t sign transactions, only messages containing information about the transaction you want to be executed. Then, the relayer submits it to the blockchain smart contract, which extracts your signature and executes the transaction.
Turns out the building block to push Web 3 adoption already exists — as Biconomy’s meta transaction enabled gasless relayers!
The question we asked was how would we enable new users with a wallet but no native asset like ETH to interact on a Web 3 dApp? Just as it would be inconceivable to pay gas each time you play a video on YouTube, you shouldn’t worry about gas when interacting with dApps.
It would need accounts that hold tokens but lack ETH to be able to sign messages that tell the smart contract to send tokens on their behalf. These messages will be sent by a special relayer that is somehow incentivized.
Biconomy is a relayer network with a gas tank option. Here’s how it works:
- It receives transaction info and signature from users
- It passes it on to target chains by signing the transactions
- It pays for gas to execute transactions
- No more having to pass KYC, download a wallet, etc.
dApps in the future will be gasless
Meta transactions will make this possible, allowing the user to do a transaction on the blockchain without needing a balanced account while a third party pays the gas fee on the user’s behalf. Biconomy enables this through a non-custodial and gas-efficient relayer infrastructure network.
- Your identity is preserved in a base contract
- You can interact directly with smart contracts without needing to have a wallet or own tokens
- You can pay gas fees with a variety of tokens
- You can hold on to your ETH for other investments
- Developers get seamless interaction between their applications and the end-users
- Less pending and stuck transactions
- Web 3 products can become as intuitive and easy to use as Web 2 ones
Meta Transactions Enabled Gasless in Numbers
To better illustrate how gasless transactions can improve user experience in Web3, let’s take a look at bicosystem (partner) dApps that have already integrated Gasless:
- “So far in 2022, our Gasless relayers have helped saved dApps over $267,000 in gas fees. In fact, YTD 100% of our integrated dApps have paid lower gas fees than they would’ve without our SDK since integrating Gasless to support meta-transactions.”
- “Gasless has powered numerous NFT Drops, including top brands such as IndiGG, 100 Thieves, and UNXD, supporting over 800,000 gas-free mints with our Gasless API for the three projects.”
The opportunity to drive the adoption of Web 3 is massive
In a world where very little is understood by the consumer as to how Web 3 works, Meta transaction-enabled solutions that make Web 3 easier for developers and users will outrun the pack. We envision a web 3 where user onboarding is as seamless as web 2 solutions — users start using the dApps without any journey right from the get-go. We need solutions that enable truly human-centric and simple digital experiences to get there. At biconomy, we know meta-transactions to be that solution.