Argent created a lot of buzz recently after launching the public version of their ios and android compatible Ethereum wallet app. Till date, the company has raised approximately $16 million investment from reputed institutional investors. They were in beta for some months and the app was tested by a good number of users. It was 'invite-only' app and somehow I couldn’t manage to get an invitation earlier. Recently they have removed the 'invitation-only' feature. There used to be sign-up queue earlier and many users were complaining about the prolonged time of getting access. Now, they have removed that issue and new signups are instant.
Image Source - The simple UI
The issue with the keys
Argent is not a very new project. The company was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in London. In 2018, they won the user experience award at Devcon4. Argent was the first European project to get funding from Sequoia crypto fund Paradigm. From the beginning, they focused on creating a smooth experience for the users. Crypto is a bit technical for a common guy. When you create a wallet, you get a public key and a private key. You also get a seed phrase in many cases. Remember the crypto proverb, “Not your keys, not your coins”. For a conventional Web 2 user, who has mainly used centralized services, it becomes very difficult to manage such thing often. Crypto is gaining recognition very fast but to attain mass adoption, the onboarding process and the user experience needs to be smoother. Argent was created for that reason.
Gold bug Peter Schiff is mourning about losing his private key by his tweet
Focus on UI and social recovery
Argent is a non-custodial Ethereum wallet. In a crypto exchange, you don’t have any control of the private keys but in a non-custodial wallet, you get control of the keys. There are numerous non-custodial wallets nowadays. Argent is a bit different. It is a Smart Contract based Ethereum wallet. You can store Ethereum and ERC20 tokens only. A user of the wallet keeps his Ethereum account (externally owned) secretly on his mobile device. This account acts as the owner of the Smart Contract. The funds of the user are stored on the Smart Contract. Argent does not provide the keys to you. Instead of that, they provide you with the 'guardians'. These guardians are the security layers. You can select your friend or spouse as the guardian. You can also select a Metamask account or a Ledger Nano hardware wallet as guardian. The primary guardian is your mobile number and email. Argent also provides you with an Ethereum name like myname.argent.xyz free of cost. Generally, such Ethereum names are in good demand nowadays and nowhere these are free. The wallet is completely secured, guarded and protected by a daily limit to resist attacks. The benefit from a user perspective is that you have no need to remember your seed phrase and you can access your assets in a secured manner. Argent hides all complexities from the user end. If you lose your smartphone, you can recover your wallet with the help of the guardians. The Ethereum name makes fund transfer easy as you do not need to remember or copy the public address of the person. It is easy to remember the names.
Argent’s guardian system as a social recovery – app screenshot by the author
CeFi to DeFi
Argent has been created with a focus on DeFi or decentralized finance. The DeFi movement is mainly happening on the Ethereum blockchain. It is a paradigm shift from the centralized finance (CeFi) where you depend on your banker or any third party for keeping your funds safe. DeFi is trustless and everything happens through auditable smart contracts without the interference of any centralized authority. The app integrates many DeFi projects directly in the app. Presently it has no built-in web 3 browser (wallets like Trustwallet or Mobile Metamask has) but it has integrated DeFi apps like Aave, Compound, PoolTogether etc. You can access Kyber token exchange or Uniswap V2 liquidity pool also from the app. Argent makes locking your idle asset in DeFi and earning interest easy. Argent is offering zero gas fee now for inside wallet DeFi access. Generally, all DeFi transactions consume gas and the high gas fee is an irritating factor for the investors. I’m not sure whether they can maintain the zero gas fee for a long time or not.
Image Source – earning interest with Aave from Argent
Argent looks cool. It has the potential to draw a new set of users who are not so knowledgeable about crypto. The user interface is simple and a Facebook user with zero knowledge of crypto will get fewer surprises once he jumps onto the app. It is just like a conventional mobile banking platform. It is very important to maintain the right balance between security and simplicity. Argent is quite successful from that perspective. Argent’s simple, secure and seedless wallet recovery can be a game-changer for crypto mass adoption. It answers crypto’s anachronism. The ‘guardians’ concept is a realistic social security system. Argent is also working on a cross wallet standard to include different crypto assets. The app is DeFi focused. Argent’s simplicity can surely boost DeFi by onboarding new users. Most probably we need more such apps which are breaking the conventional norm.
Note: The app is new and DYOR before depositing your fund. Often security risks are associated with new technology.