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Ethereum ERC-4337 ‘bundlers’ — How hard is joining the network?

Ethereum ERC-4337 ‘bundlers’ — How hard is joining the network?

A new layer has been added to Ethereum in order to make smart accounts possible with the introduction of ERC-4337 and account abstraction. However, infrastructure providers are warning that participation may be difficult to do profitably at this time.

ERC-4337, or “smart accounts” and “account abstraction,” was launched on the Ethereum mainnet on March 1. “Smart accounts” are essentially an improved version of an Ethereum wallet. ERC-4337 introduces a distributed network of “Bundlers” and “Paymasters” to support these accounts, moving away from the reliance on centralized components.

There are subtle but significant changes under the hood, with the addition of the “User Intent Layer.” This new layer allows for more complex transactions to be initiated in one step. With it, ERC-4337 adds an “Alternative Mempool” and a network of transaction Bundlers, a new way to earn fees.

A model explaining the current Ethereum transaction flow. Source: Blocknative

Bundlers get compensated via userOp gas fees for providing their service. However, being a successful Bundler in reality might be another story, warns Matt Cutler, the co-founder and CEO of Blocknative, a core Ethereum infrastructure provider. Although anyone can theoretically become a Bundler, in reality, it is a competitive market requiring “relatively sophisticated development teams operating substantial computational, storage, and networking infrastructure.”

Despite this, there are a number of open-source bundler code repositories available for those technically adept users who wish to try.

It is unclear what impact, if any, ERC-4337 will have on Ethereum gas fees, especially with the increase in transaction complexity. However, Cutler believes that there may be only slight changes in gas fees, if any at all. Transaction fees are not expected to suddenly decrease or become significantly more expensive.