Modular account abstraction overview: what is it? What are the developments?

Overview of modular account abstraction: definition and progress.

Modular account abstraction is a subset of account abstraction, aimed at modularizing smart contract functionality to enable customization for users and easy construction of independent smart account functions for developers. Konrad Kopp, a cryptography researcher, provides an overview of the current state of modular account abstraction, including relevant developments.

There are currently two different methods for modular account abstraction, one inspired by the Safe architecture and the other by the Diamond standard (ERC-2535). Safe accounts evolved from the original multi-sig proxy built by Gnosis and preceded ERC-4337. An example of a team building modular accounts inspired by the Safe architecture is Biconomy, whose recently released accounts have made some changes to Safe accounts, including adding native ERC-4337 support and all accounts being 1/1 multisig.

The other method is inspired by ERC-2535, which aims to make smart contract tools more scalable by standardizing the way references to modules are stored and executed using the delegatecall opcode. The first working implementation we know of was built by us at ETHDenver, including a minimal and scalable smart account called ZeroDev Kernel. Additionally, the Alchemy team has written a phased EIP draft (ERC-6900), and the Gnosis Safe and Soul Wallet have also experimented with ERC-2535 accounts.

The differences between these two methods include: 1) one uses delegatecall to execute modules instead of external calls, which greatly reduces gas costs associated with adding modules; 2) another difference is the storage method and transaction routing of modules; and 3) the third major difference is the way these implementations handle storage. Due to the way ERC-2535 calls modules, storage cannot be handled in the same way as regular smart contracts. Instead, developers usually opt for structured or “Diamond” storage, where data is mapped out to storage slots.


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