How Does AdEx Leverage Account Abstraction

In this article, we will look at how we are using Account Abstraction in AdEx - an advertising network bridging Web2 customers to Web3.

How Does AdEx Leverage Account Abstraction
Learn how AdEx leverages Account Abstraction

What is Account Abstraction?

Before we dive deeper into AdEx specifics, let’s have a quick look at what Account Abstraction actually is. It is a term you may see mostly in a wallet context. Generally speaking, it is the effort to start using Smart Contract Accounts (as opposed to Externally Owned Accounts which require a seed phrase and have limited functionalities) as wallets and the effort of making Smart Contract Wallets native to the blockchain. It brings a number of benefits that would otherwise be impossible, such as: paying for transaction fees in stablecoins & other tokens, email & password registration and account recovery, batching multiple transactions in one, etc. If you are interested in learning more about Account Abstraction, there is a detailed article about it on the Ambire Wallet blog.

Even though Account Abstraction directly relates to wallets, the technology can be used to improve other aspects of the blockchain ecosystem as a whole. In this case, it is helping a blockchain advertising network make things easy for advertisers!

How AdEx has Used Account Abstraction in the Past

Account Abstraction was always the plan for Ethereum, but due to different priorities, it had to be put on the back burner. It became a popular topic again in late 2022; however, it was not a new thing at all. Projects such as AdEx had already been making efforts since 2019.

AdEx Platform with the Advertisers dashboard open
The original version of the AdEx advertising platform 

In 2019, AdEx was one of the first projects ever to launch a smart contract wallet and, therefore one of the first to innovate in the account abstraction space.

But how did we do this?

First of all, we rolled out self-custodial accounts powered by email/password. A wallet was created on the blockchain for the users without needing anything else (e.g., no seed phrases, additional steps, etc.). This made the experience much simpler and smoother and allowed traditional companies to enter the crypto space.

We also built a system that enables gas payments in DAI (the stablecoin of choice for running the platform), therefore significantly reducing the onboarding overhead. This meant that advertisers only had to deposit one single currency and could launch a campaign straight away. Using another wallet, like MetaMask e.g., would have required DAI for the campaign as well as ETH for any transaction fees.

Further, we developed our own payment channels, which allowed for transaction batching: advertisers would pay to many (all publishers who displayed their ads), and publishers could withdraw all their earnings as one single transaction.

You could also give ‘privileges’ to other users (e.g. wallets) to use the account to launch campaigns, download receipts etc - in essence, this allowed you to add or remove signer keys!

Sound familiar? Yes, these are all benefits of Account Abstraction and Smart Contract Wallets but used for a different purpose, not just as a wallet!

At EthCC6 in Paris in July of this year (2023), Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, mentioned (Ambire) AdEx in his talk on the history of Account Abstraction:

How AdEx is using Account Abstraction

The new AdEx platform will be for advertisers only. Upon registration with email and password, a smart account (also known as a smart contract wallet) will be created in the background for the advertisers.

They will then be able to deposit funds either in FIAT or directly in crypto and then can use the platform in either of the following currencies: DAI, USDT, USDC, ADX. Now, in a previously known blockchain scenario the advertisers would have also needed ETH or MATIC to launch campaigns (the platform will support Ethereum & Polygon). However, thanks to Account Abstraction, in AdEx this will not be necessary - the network fees will be paid in the advertiser’s currency of choice.

Another great feature of using smart accounts is the ability to add or remove signer keys: this means that an advertiser can grant access to their account to other team members for example. This way the team can easily collaborate on the campaigns. And if an employee leaves, their access can easily be revoked. This makes the platform a very useful tool for enterprise or corporate use.

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