Argent Wallet Interview
- Writer MilkRoad.com contributor
- March 9, 2020
- •5 Min Read
When it comes to making DeFi accessible to the masses, many have pointed to smart wallets as the biggest opportunity to get nontechnical users onboarded.
When looking at the current smart wallet ecosystem, many recognize Argent as the leading provider to date.
For those unfamiliar with Argent, the mobile wallet offers a suite of useful tools like password logins, ENS subdomain registration, social backups and a DeFi explorer. There is currently $7M worth of funding held within Argent wallets (in a noncustodial fashion) with roughly 4k users holding an average of $2k each.
Most recently, Argent announced the closing of a $12M Series A round, bringing their total funding to $16M with notable backers such as Paradigm and Robert Leshner from Compound.
"We went looking for our perfect partner. One that shared our vision for a decentralised future, a focus on creating products that empower people, and an appreciation that while the opportunity is massive, crypto’s in its early days and the road ahead won’t be easy."
Amidst the excitement, we were lucky enough to find time to chat with Itamar Lesuisse - CEO and cofounder of Argent.
We touched on a number of interesting topics so let’s dive right in!
Tell us a bit about your background prior to Argent!
I’ve founded a few startups and have been interested in the intersection of tech and finance, previously working with companies like Amazon and Visa. After selling my last startup, Peak, I was able to spend more time looking into the technology that my co-founders, Gerald and Julien, were getting so excited by. I made my first ETH transaction and it just clicked, I knew I had to work in this space.
When we started thinking about building a specific product on Ethereum we thought - How do we solve these big consumer pain points holding back adoption?
This led to the idea of a “smart wallet” - a mobile app that combines usability and security, blurring the boundaries between hardware wallets and hot wallets.
What were the earliest smart wallets you can recall?
I would say that multi-sigs were the first form of smart wallets. Back in 2017, Vitalk did some tweets about security and using meta transactions for abstracting gas.
This got us thinking about letting users top up a key to pay for gas, an idea which quickly evolved into meta transactions.
We always thought that mobile was the way to go - as that’s what’s most convenient to people around the world. So we wanted to focus on this while providing unprecedented security.
Why have you guys chosen DeFi applications as your first integrations?
We believe crypto is inherently financial as it allows for the easy transfer of value without middlemen. And we’re excited by the long term potential of DeFi because so much of legacy finance is broken and inefficient while excluding lots of people around the world.
What’s on the Argent roadmap in 2020?
In a matter of weeks, we’ll be removing the waitlist and making the app accessible to anyone.
We’re also working on a suite of new DeFi integrations. We want to significantly enhance how many DeFi projects are accessible from Argent. We’re very focused on working with our users to identify what tools and features they’d like to see added next.
What does the due diligence process look like when you’re thinking of integrating a new DeFi product?
We first ask which use cases will bring the most value to Argent wallet owners. Then we narrow down the options in a specific field by evaluating the strength of the team, the type and quantity of assets in a protocol, etc.
Most importantly, we investigate the technical quality of a project. The open-source nature of crypto helps with this.
We’re being very transparent about which partners we are building with and want to make it clear that applications need to bring big benefits to our users.
Let’s talk about the onboarding and useability process - How’d you guys go about designing that?
When we first started Argent we identified all the major pain points we’d personally experienced and also heard others complain about - e.g. seed phrases. We wanted to design our dream flow without them.
We’re proud of how easy we’ve made Argent so far (my parents can use it) but there are still a few hurdles. I still believe that fiat onramps need to be improved (both the costs + limits) and while the app is “ready” for the masses from a usability perspective, we’re still looking for those killer use cases that get us there.
To us, it’s not about one use case. It’s more about offering a ton of different use cases as that’s what’s likely to bring big mass adoption. The more dapps we work with, the strong erour product will become.
Why do you guys use .xyz subdomains?
.xyz was the first one with a bridge to ENS outside of .eth. We thought it was easy for users to remember.
How did you guys come up with the idea of guardians?
We wanted to encourage the same mental model as your bank, like freezing your card and sending a new one if needed.
With Guardians, we introduce the idea of - Who do you want to trust?
So far, it’s working very well and we’ll continue to expand on it in the coming months.
Where can web3 wallets in general improve?
First and foremost, there needs to be more interoperability between different wallets. ENS was a good step and WalletConnect to connect to different dapps is awesome.
We’d like to introduce functionality for non-Argent wallets to a guardian. In the future, I could imagine vertical specialized wallets like using one wallet per user or one wallet for very specific use cases.
I’d like to see more wallets with an emphasis on things like DAOs + DeFi and small things like removing the number of steps for ERC20 transfers to one transaction for approval and call request.
In the end, there are no longer any big technical challenges, it’s more innovation and creativity.
Why should users opt-in to a noncustodial solution like Argent?
It’s very hard to sell security to users unless they lose all their funds on an exchange. With this, we need to make the non-custodial experience just as good, if not better, than a custodial solution.
With Argent, it’s more about selling a great experience, like being able to put money in the DSR in one tap. It’s not easy to sell to people on noncustodial wallets so we’re trying to make up with that by introducing features and tools that custodial solutions can’t offer.
Why did you guys choose to use a waitlist rollout strategy?
Seeing as we were using brand new smart contracts, we wanted to be very intentional about the rollout. This strategy really allowed us to improve the app and introduce things like relayers, stickers, etc. by making sure it works for early users and then slowly rolling them out to the public over time.
Our goal was to launch early, make a bulletproof product and then iterate fast. As CEO, I was even doing customer support in the early days.
Just to paint an example of some of the struggles we deal with, many of our users didn’t know they can send DAI to the same address as ETH.
When we remove waitlist, it’s because we believe the experience is great and the final touches have been made.
Building off of this, we’re still working on making things as obvious to the average user as possible - constantly thinking about how to simplify concepts.
For example, there are users who want to put Dai in Compound. They would sell Dai for ETH, send the ETH to Argent and then buy Dai again. Some people would even open a Vault using Maker to create Dai and then lend it on Compound - not knowing that they were actually losing money because of stability fees.
So, for us it’s more about presenting these use cases in a very friendly, digestible fashion. Once we get there, then we’ll feel confident removing the waitlist and opening it to everyone.
How do you view the wallet ecosystem? Is it very competitive?
Not really. We’re very friendly with the Gnosis team. We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel and projects like Trust wallet being open source has really aided in collaboration. We’re always talking to different providers - like oracles - which will help take Argent to the next level.
As you can tell, Argent has taken a very calculated approach to growth.
In the coming months, it’s likely that the application will really vamp up in its capacity - directly correlating with the coming growth of DeFi at large.
If you’d like to get started with Argent today, shoot us a DM on Twitter for a golden ticket to skip the waitlist!
In the meantime, be sure to keep up with all things Argent via their official Twitter.
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