Ethereum gas fees and building the best crypto business wallet

April 20, 2021
Samantha Fields

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This past year at Multis we've gone through quite a few changes: we've gone from building a DeFi-friendly multisig for businesss to building the best crypto business account for companies who want to scale; we've grown our team (and are still hiring!), and launched a community for crypto ops professionals. But unsurprisingly, gas fees haven't gone away, in fact it was on February 23rd that average transaction fees shot to an all-time high of $38.

Although network fees have gone down since then, the mainstreaming of crypto means that the Ethereum blockchain will be crowded, and Eth gas fees will remain an obstacle that players in the system will have to contend with.

With our earlier Multis accounts we learned two important lessons. First: gas fees can make or break a successful user experience, and second: covering 100% of our users gas fees was not sustainable to our business model.  With these lessons in mind, we are building a solution that can provide a superior user experience, while remaining transparent on network fees, and trying to keep the fees as low as possible.

Building an accessible multisig

We know that for businesses, in particular early-stage start-ups, keeping costs (especially network fees) as low as possible is a priority. And as much as we believe that Multisigs are an ideal wallet for companies, we know that they can be very costly in gas fees. So how can we build a multisig with reasonably priced network fees?

Gnosis Safe: Updated for gasless signatures

Unlike our previous wallet which was built on top of Gnosis Multisig, our upcoming wallet will be built on its successor, Gnosis Safe. This updated wallet has an even better user experience especially when it comes to gas fees. One of the features we're most excited about is gasless signatures - or meta transactions. Unlike typical multisigs where all signatures are signed on-chain, gasless signatures allows for users to sign for a transaction offchain, sending the transaction to a gas relayer. The relayer then collects the signatures from the users and sends the transaction to the blockchain, paying the gas fees.

We had attempted a similar solution in the past but because our wallets were built on Gnosis Multisig which didn't have gasless signatures natively, this involved us integrating with Metamask and Portis and added an extra step that drove up gas fees. Now that we're building with a more recent version of Gnosis this step is eliminated and gas fees will be lowered.

Meta Transactions: Better UX and smarter on fees

Paying for gas in transaction currency, not in Eth

This is useful for a few reasons. First of all, this solution gives Multis control over the fees, meaning we can potentially cover some network fees. While we don't envision covering 100% of gas fees at all times, we like knowing that we now have the ability to potentially pass on savings to our users.

Meta transactions also improves user experience. Instead of being required to pay gas fees in Eth, this allows users to pay for fees in whatever token they are transacting in. So if you're moving DAI, your gas fees will be payable in DAI. This eliminates the hassle of constantly having ETH on hand to pay for network fees.

Layer 2 Solutions: The future but not our present

Right now, Multis is a Layer 1 solution. We believe that long term, Layer 1 will become a settlement blockchain and Layer 2 scaling solutions will be used to help the network process more transactions. As a company, we are following the evolution of Layer 2 solutions but haven't committed to implementing any because we feel it is simply too early. Ambitious solutions (that we like!) like zksync are still on Testnet and not yet in production.  Our long term goal is to work with a Layer 2 solution best adapted to our users needs and go from there.

One thing we like to keep in mind is that these solutions have yet to be tested. As this fascinating blogpost from the scaling solution zkporter points out, there is a "dirty secret" with scalability: a mass migration to Layer 2 will increase demand and lead to network congestion.

Living with Network Fees

We know now that there are no easy solutions when it comes to tackling network fees. As we build the best crypto wallet for business we remain committed to keeping network fees as low as we can. We think that transparency around fees, providing flexibility to our users, and on occasion finding ways to subsidize some fees where possible is a solid start. We might be "crypto dreamers" but when it comes to network fees, we try to be realists.

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Breaking Legacy: A CFO's Guide to DeFi & Digital Assets
Decentralized Finance (or DeFi) and digital assets aren't just a fad or a bubble. They have the potential to provide value to people typically underserved by traditional banking systems, in particular small and medium sized enterprises. Learn how SMEs can leverage decentralized financial services including:
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