ERC-6551 Turns Any NFT Into a Web3 Wallet

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Cook­ie, cloud, web, spam — they’re all expres­sions con­nect­ing inter­net phe­nom­e­na to relat­able experiences. 

Part of the process of devel­op­ing tech­nol­o­gy is decid­ing on the vocab­u­lary that con­nects human under­stand­ing to the pur­pose of new mech­a­nisms. But some­times, it’s dif­fi­cult to encap­su­late com­plex ideas in sim­ple words.

The word “wal­let,” used to label a com­mon Web3 account tool like Meta­Mask, is often con­sid­ered a bit of a mis­nomer. It just doesn’t quite fit what the tool is capa­ble of doing.

Like a Web3 wal­let, a real-life wal­let can hold iden­ti­ty infor­ma­tion, cur­ren­cies and maybe a pho­to or two, but it doesn’t have an address or keys, it doesn’t con­nect a user to activ­i­ties or act as a pass­port to places or events — and it gen­er­al­ly doesn’t store hun­dreds of col­lectibles or works of art. 

Now, to make things even a lit­tle more com­pli­cat­ed: The ERC-6551 pro­to­col intro­duces token-bound accounts, enabling any indi­vid­ual NFT to be a “wal­let,” for lack of a bet­ter term.

On a recent episode of the On the Oth­er Side pod­cast, Ben­ny Giang, the co-founder of Future Prim­i­tive and the his­toric Cryp­toKit­ties NFT col­lec­tion, spoke with host Chase Chap­man about the innovation.

The idea, Giang says, sprang from a project he cre­at­ed with renowned streetwear design­er Jeff Sta­ple, called Sapienz. The two decid­ed to team up and “reimag­ine the future” of sto­ry­telling, streetwear and fash­ion through pro­file pic­tures, or PFPs.

Giang ques­tioned whether PFPs should remain sta­t­ic and iso­lat­ed, “Like, why are they wear­ing the same clothes for­ev­er?” he asks. 

“What if we launched a PFP that looks super cool and you could change your out­fits 10 times a day, 20 times a day, right? Because that is a nat­ur­al expres­sion of who you are.”

The a‑ha moment

Keep­ing things on chain adds com­plex­i­ties “that real­ly hin­der what you can do with an NFT,” Giang says, with gas fees being the most sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­er. This prob­lem led to an “a‑ha” moment for the two creators. 

Attend­ing a hack-a-thon in San Fran­cis­co, Giang says the “light bulb popped.”

“What if NFTs had their own wal­lets? And then if they have their own wal­lets, then they can talk to each oth­er with­out MetaMask.”

“If they had their own wal­lets, they could own a dig­i­tal hood­ie or a dig­i­tal t‑shirt” to accom­pa­ny a PFP, for example.

This sparked the cre­ation of ERC-6551, which gives every NFT its own smart con­tract account or wal­let, Giang says. “All the NFTs right now on Ethereum main­net, from Cryp­toKit­ties all the way to the lat­est NFT project — they have their own account address, so they can actu­al­ly hold any oth­er token.”

Token-bound accounts allow NFTs to have two impor­tant prop­er­ties, accord­ing to Giang. One is the abil­i­ty to own assets. “It could hold onto ETH, it could hold USDC, it could hold pepe coins, it could hold oth­er NFTs.”

The sec­ond prop­er­ty of token-bound accounts is the abil­i­ty for NFTs to par­tic­i­pate in social gov­er­nance, he says. “So now that an NFT has its own account address, it could be a sign­er on a mul­ti­sig, it could have its own ENS sub-domain. It could par­tic­i­pate in vot­ing on proposals.”

“It’s like giv­ing an NFT a pass­port,” he says, allow­ing users access to a range of func­tions includ­ing bank accounts and voting.

Tak­ing things a step fur­ther, Giang adds, “If we add AI in there, it could have a per­son­al­i­ty, it could be tweet­ing, and it could also exe­cute on-chain actions.”

“This is a nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion,” Giang says, “for us to inter­act with each oth­er, for us to inter­face on the internet.”

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