ERC-6551 turns any NFT into a Web3 wallet

ERC-6551 turns any NFT into a Web3 wallet

Cookies, cloud, web, spam – they are all terms that link internet phenomena to related experiences.

Part of the process of developing technology is determining the vocabulary that connects human understanding to the purpose of new mechanisms. But sometimes it’s hard 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 match what the tool is capable of doing.

Like a Web3 wallet, a real wallet might contain 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 stores usually not hundreds of collectibles or works of art.

Now, to make things even a bit more complicated: the ERC-6551 protocol introduces token-bound accounts, which allow 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, 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 acclaimed 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 do they wear the same clothes forever?” he asks.

“What if we launched a PFP that looks super cool and you can change your outfit 10 times a day, 20 times a day, right? Because it’s a natural expression of who you are.”

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The a-ha moment

Keeping things on-chain adds complexity “that really hinders what you can do with an NFT,” says Giang, with gas taxes being the main barrier. This issue led to an “a-ha” moment for the two creators.

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

“What if NFTs had their own wallets? And then if they have their own wallet, 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 follow a PFP, for example.

This sparked the creation of ERC-6551, which gives each NFT its own smart contract account or wallet, says Giang. “All NFTs right now on the 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-linked accounts allow NFTs to have two important properties, according to Giang. One is the ability to own assets. “It can hold ETH, it can hold USDC, it can hold pepe coins, it can hold other NFTs.”

The other feature of token-linked accounts is the ability for NFTs to participate in social governance, he says. “So now that an NFT has its own account address, it can be a signer on a multisig, it can have its own ENS subdomain. It could participate in the proposal vote.”

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

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Taking things a step further, Giang adds, “If we add AI there, it can have a personality, it can be tweeting, and it can also perform actions in the chain.”

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

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