The Way to Web3 #3, Gnosis Safe, Programmable account standard, and Web3 OS
July 12th, 2022

Web3 native operating system(OS) still lacks a standard. And I have found some clues that Web3 OS may derive from the Smart Contract Account, while Gnosis Safe is one of the most well-known Smart Contract Accounts in the Ethereum ecosystem.


  • As the widest used multi-signature wallet in the EVM ecosystem, Safe has supported more extended functions besides the basics, such as pre-trade checks & APPS. Expect Safe to polish the process of integration with other projects to be more standardized & simple;
  • Smart contract wallet is one of the core pre-pillars for the mass blockchain application. Currently, it has shown quality features such as account recovery, adjustable Gas Fee payment method, preset execution logic, etc.;
  • Expect "all-in-one output" and "one-to-all management" to be realized through smart contract accounts to give users an ultimate web3 personal account management system;
  • Looking back at the past 20 years of the Internet, the emergence of a new account system often promotes the evolution of new operating systems and brings about changes in the core value of the chain. >>> the operating system (OS) in Web3 is likely to evolve from smart contract accounts;
  • At the web3 personal account architecture level, Gnosis Safe has set the core standards and produced several valuable modules & tools.
  • The majority of Gnosis Safe ‘Eco-projects’ are about the wallet and asset flow management tools, while I believe there could be more innovations in access management, business process management, and easier DeFi UX.
  • We may be witnessing the generation of a hyperstructure in web3, a next-generation "Windows" that is supported & controlled by users & developers, with ownership and no downtime.

When we talk about Gnosis Safe as a multi-signature wallet solution

(If you participate in DAOs or Manage Dapp’s Treasury, you can skip this part)
Gnosis Safe is an on-chain multi-signature wallet solution in the EVM environment that Gnosis launched in 2018. As the most OG on-chain multi-signature, Gnosis Safe currently serves more than 90% of Dapps, DAOs and institutions in the Ether and EVM ecosystem. And if we look at the carried asset volume, Gnosis Safe carried $76B worth of assets in 2022, surpassing Coinbase, the largest centralized custodian in the same period.

AUC of well-known custody service providers on Mar 2022
AUC of well-known custody service providers on Mar 2022

In addition to basic features such as multi-signature management and spending limit, Safe has several other cool features:

Feature 1-- Transaction builder: Combine multiple transactions as you wish in a single transaction operation.

  • One common case: simplifies the dozens of operations of transferring money to dozens of addresses every month in the processing DAO payroll into a single operation, significantly reducing manpower and risk of input errors.
  • One interesting case: simplify the use of DEX when approving and swapping from two clicks to a single click >>> transaction builder's support for business logic brought by chronological order has a lot of room for imagination;

Feature 2-- Transaction Guard: for each transaction to provide pre-transaction & post-transaction check function, check the conditions with some customizations, e.g., type errors on transfer amount (more than the transfer limit), transfer to phishing address (TBD in 2022)

Feature 3 -- APPS: Gnosis Safe built-in Dapp access interface, user can click Logo to enter the corresponding application

Safe APPS interface
Safe APPS interface

The overall experience is close to the Web2 product level:

Using Zerion in Safe APPS
Using Zerion in Safe APPS

In addition to a more user-friendly experience, APPS reflects more combinability or extends the scope of use of Gnosis Safe as a multi-signature wallet, for example:

  • Empowering the user's control over their account through Zerion, and providing Gnosis Safe users with the ability to trade and cross-chain through Zerion's built-in swap and bridge functions.
  • Facilizing recurring transfers of DAO by using Sablier, e.g., setting up automatic payroll release from the DAO vault to members for the next six months.

In addition to the applications currently displayed within APPS, APPS allows users to extend the applications they want to use that are not listed through the 'Add custom app' button.

P.S. If you can’t find your target app in APPS, please leverage WalletConnect to visit Gnosis Safe

Leverage WalletConnect to visit Opensea
Leverage WalletConnect to visit Opensea

Suggestions that I expect Gnosis Safe team to see 😈:

Regarding the extension of APPS coverage, there could be a standardized & simple integration process with other Dapps. e.g., experience similar to installing a dmg file inside mac OS, instead of approaching the Gnosis team to work together to complete the integration.

  • Suppose the Gnosis Safe team wants to ensure the security of users to access applications through APPS, is it possible to label the projects that have passed the official certification of Gnosis Safe?

Programmable account and the core of Gnosis Safe

Programmable Account (my personal definition) represent the programmability of the account. That is, the account is programmed to a look that you want or give it the features you want.

P.S. Programmable Account should be called Smart Contract Account in essence, which build an extra layer of smart contracts on top of Ethereum account system.

Smart Contract Account is the core of Gnosis Safe.

Here is some background knowledge to add – about the smart contract account

(if you are familiar with EOA and the smart contract account, you can skip this part)

Currently, Ethereum supports two types of accounts (you can also call them wallets).

Image from MakerDAO article
Image from MakerDAO article

Externally Owned Accounts (EOA): accounts controlled by private keys, most wallets currently belong to this category, e.g., Metamask.

Smart Contract Account (also named as Contract Account): accounts accessed and controlled through the smart contract code(not the private key); this model allows almost unlimited expanded functionality

Another point of knowledge to add – Wallets with social recovery functions

The wallet solution that can be socially retrieved is not necessarily a smart contract account, but can also be an EOA external non-chain solution (the following EOA, in addition to the social recovery function).

Summary of wallets with social recovery
Summary of wallets with social recovery

After some basic knowledge about the smart contract, I want to say that the necessity of Smart Contract Account is due to the poor experience of EOA: EOA can’t support the user's requirements of a web2 level account experience and is also too hard to modify.

As a direct presentation of the underlying account logic, EOA is part of the core network protocol due to its critical role in interacting with the network. However, this results in the account being very inflexible and not adapting well to new ecosystem requirements. The process of changing the core account logic is often lengthy and controversial. This can be seen, for example, with the slow progress on protocol-level changes such as Account Abstraction and Authcall.

The following is a list of some "special features" that Smart Contract Account can achieve currently (from top to bottom, features are more and more ‘cool’).

  • Multi-signature: Two or more users can approve a transaction for improved security. Smart wallets can also enable multi-sig transactions to be authorized offline to save users time.
  • Amount limits: A transaction amount limit can be set to help reduce the chance of an expensive user error and to help prevent an attacker from emptying a wallet in one transaction.
  • Whitelisting: Users can specify that transfers be made only to known addresses, which helps prevent phishing incidents.
  • Bundled transactions: For convenience, perform multiple calls to interact with the Dapp in a single "bundled" transaction.
  • Emergency freeze: In the event of a lost or stolen device, accounts can be locked to ensure the safety of funds.
  • Account recovery: Various account recovery options (e.g., social recovery) help eliminate the huge risk of losing private keys & mnemonics.
  • Gas fee abstraction: Make the gas payment method flexible, e.g., third-party payment on behalf of the transaction initiator, payment with ERC-20 (Leverage GSN), etc.
  • Pre-made recipes: Predetermine triggers & execution logic, e.g., automated payback Dai when the collateral ratio(CR) of the Vault falls below a user-defined threshold.

The following are some other interesting Smart Contract Wallets that you can try on your own

  • Argent: The well-known Smart Contract Wallet with easy-to-use account social recovery and great integration with cross-chain bridges.
  • Loopering Wallet: Focused on wallets within the Loopring ecosystem, based on ZKP technology, with a very low Gas Fee.
  • Authereum: Used to allow Dapps to pay gas fees on behalf of their users, the team has switched to Hop Exchange.
  • DeFiSaver: Greatly facilitates DeFi users from the wallet level, e.g., the Maker Vault automatic position replenishment.

Some smart contract features that wish to be implemented 😈

Since a Turing-complete smart contract can theoretically achieve "any" programmatic result, here are my "requirements":

  • As much privacy as possible

    One person with several accounts is common in the current crypto world (same for web3 users?), which causes an urgent need for an aggregate that can reflect the complete user profile under multiple accounts, but also maintain the privacy of the terminal accounts (Sismo is delivering a relevant product)

  • One-to-all management

    For users who hold more than one account, a portal that can control all accounts through a single UI is necessary. Hiding the connection between the portal and terminal addresses to give better privacy for users(DeFiwallet can do part of this, besides the privacy part)

  • One to all to one

    The perfect combination of "all-in-one" and "one-to-all" should be the perfect personal account management system in the web3 era (similar to the advanced version of Linktree with privacy feature?)

    Users can enjoy the convenience of big data while maintaining their privacy and security, and not being tied to the inconvenient management experience of multiple separate systems with cumbersome accounts.

Potential Derivation of Web3 OS

In the past fastest-growing decade of Internet development, there are some quite meaningful stages and changes that should have reference value for Web3 development.

P.S. Although this trend would take away the value capture ability of those models that are gradually becoming infrastructure, I believe those infrastructures will get their fair value in a hyperstructure framework. From a certain point of view, this should be very similar to fat protocol theory>>> applications won’t capture most of the value, but infrastructures will.

Stages and Changes

Stage I—Desktop OS captured the most value

The red part capture the most value
The red part capture the most value

First-generation Internet products (e.g., Web portals) did not have user account settings (user identification was reflected in IP addresses). Most of the user's operating time was spent on the Windows interface (regard read-only browser as an extension of the Windows interface)

At this stage, selling Windows copyright was still the most profitable business. (Probably because mobile devices are not widespread, or no one cares about discovering user data value)

Stage II—Web application raised with its account

The red part capture the most value
The red part capture the most value

After the emergence of Facebook& Alibaba, applications with internal account architecture became mainstream, while users spent more and more time operating time within the UI of these applications, instead of Windows interface >>>> selling OS gradually became less profitable, and Facebook/Alibaba became the most profitable Internet companies (Exactly the same period for massive adoption of mobile devices)

At this stage, applications’ internal account system still only records their own business data.

Stage III—Application developed on top of application

The red part capture the most value
The red part capture the most value

During the past several years, similar trends happened in US & EU and Chinese markets: Google Chrome Extensions became more widely used, while Wechat Mini Program gradually penetrate into Chinese people’s daily life >>> compared to stage I and II, stage III-- application developed on top of the application is a very thorough & significant paradigm shift of OS.

In this stage, Google chrome and Wechat account record business data outside their own core business.

Wechat went a little further: external applications based on mini-programs still use Wechat’s payment channel. (The payment companies Square / PayPal is strong enough to maintain adequate autonomy, which is probably the reason why the payment channel of the Google account does not occupy Google chrome addons).

Stage Web3—Some hints but unknown

Think about the following two points:

  • i. Changes mentioned above;
  • ii. Web3 applications will be built heavily on top of blockchain infrastructure while blockchain systems and existing Internet product systems are built on two different underlying network architectures

There will be a new round of potential adjustments in account system & OS for Web3, either the Web2 system is forward compatible with the system of Web3 (Still dominated by web2 architecture), or Web3 system force web2 system to upgrade with web3 architecture.

Here, we assume that the future will be the second situation (historically & theoretically: technology always goes forward :) ) >>> that is, Web3 will have a new account system and OS. The possible evolution path is that the current account system of blockchain will gradually evolve into the Web3 OS.

For WEB3 with ownership emphasis, access management is always the most important. And when it comes to the user experience level, it is an account >>> An account that meets the features of WEB3 (e.g., ownership/built-in asset management) will have the greatest versatility and indispensability.

Gnosis Safe’s preparation on Web3 OS

Combining the differences between EOA and Smart Contract Account, I believe everyone would agree that Smart Contract Account would be the path to evolving Web3 OS.
Now, let's take a look at the interface of Gnosis Safe APPS again:

Some logos are placed on the dashboard, does this look like the current smartphone user interface?

Safe eco-system
Safe eco-system

Safe Interface: The layer closest to the end customers allows users to interact with applications such as AAVE directly from the Safe APPS by using smart contract accounts.

Safe Infra: Safe Infra consists of services that enable more powerful and convenient interfaces and applications to be built on top of Safe. Essentially, they provide abstractions for developers to rely on third parties to solve certain common (resource-heavy) tasks and make developing interfaces and applications on Safe easier.

Safe Protocol: The Safe Protocol is a collection of community implementations of Gnosis Safe, consisting of a canonical version of the core contracts, extensions such as modules and guards, and community-governed registries. Other components of Gnosis Safe (Safe Infrastructure and Safe Interfaces and third-party applications) build on top of this canonical protocol to enable interoperability and account portability.

Projects Building on top of Gnosis Safe

Introduce several cases that I have tried

  • Multis: By leveraging Gnosis Safe’s multi-sig function and high security, Multis Offers an all-in-one financial management tools for crypto-native organizations by leveraging
  • Zodiac: With the basement of Gnosis Safe core contract and open module standard, Zodiac provides a collection of DAO tools.
  • Radicle: Relying on smart contracts instead of admins, Radicle Orgs allows developers to define the rules and permissions around codebases in a trust-minimized way.

In the current market, most of the projects based on Gnosis Safe are working on managing asset flow, while there could more innovation in dealing with access management and business process.

Pls visit here to see all of the projects building on top of Gnosis Safe

To implement a new generation operating system, we always need enough market influence and great allies. This is why I believe Gnosis Safe has the potential with the above ecological partners and multi-billion AUM in its multi-sig wallets.

At the End

Smart Contract Accounts or Web3 OS, in fact, are quite consistent with the definition of [Hyperstructure]:

   **Unstoppable, Free, Valuable, Permissionless, Positive Sum, Credibly Neutral** 

This makes me remind the passage in Hyperstructure:

  • We've never had the tools to create software-based infrastructure that can work as-designed for generations without degradation or And we're at a once-in-a-generation moment where we are the ones lucky enough to have the privilege to build the first. privilege to build the first.

For me, it was a pleasure to be so close to the process of Web3 OS establishment. And I can give some effort, even only a little, that would be great!

P.S. I’m investing in A&T Capital, which participated in the funding Gnosis Safe, so there is some correlation of interest (But Safe can be really cool, right? 😃 )


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