Cryptonatives: Lukas Schor

From Externally Owned Accounts to Smart Accounts. Lukas Schor is building Safe to onboard a billion people to self-custody.

Peek into his view on cryptonatives, the current state, and the future of Safe or the matters of smart accounts. Shall we start?

PWN: What do you think defines a cryptonative?

LS: A cryptonative is someone on a journey to being a self-sovereign individual. They understand the essence of decentralization and seek to eliminate rent-seeking intermediaries, foster financial sovereignty, and enhance privacy. For them, the blockchain is not a buzzword or a new technological trend but a revolutionary shift in how we perceive trust, governance, and the very structures of our society.

PWN: As a cryptonative, what are some of the DeFi tools and strategies you use yourself?

LS: Being somewhat biased, I've been utilizing Safe{Wallet} extensively for financial operations in the project. Unfortunately, I don’t find time to use different DeFi tools that often, but I do appreciate dYdX for the thoughtful UX. I am also excited about products bridging DeFi and traditional payment rails. When visiting Singapore, I onboarded to Grab’s new web3 wallet that allows me to collect NFT vouchers representing SGD stablecoins after successful rides and use them at merchants as discounts. I feel solutions like this will accelerate the mainstream adoption of web3 technologies.

PWN:  What are some of the main issues cryptonatives are facing in today's financial ecosystem?

LS: The majority of people using crypto today grapple with two primary issues.

Firstly, the over-reliance on centralized custodians, reminiscent of the 2007/2008 financial crisis, we have replaced banks with centralized exchanges, sidelining the ethos of the web3 movement and inducing risks from closed-off ecosystems, opaque operations, and stifled innovation.

Secondly, current self-custody solutions predominantly use Externally Owned Accounts (EOAs), presenting a single point of vulnerability due to their dependence on private keys, which can be easily lost or compromised.

PWN:  How are you mitigating these issues?

LS: Addressing these challenges, Safe has innovated by elevating user accounts to the smart contract level, infusing flexibility, enhancing security measures like multi-signature access, and offering a modular architecture that allows varied, programmable user-centric controls. This shift ensures robust self-custody without sacrificing user convenience or security.

PWN:  You are building Safe. With Safe{Wallet} you claim it’s “The most secure way to own assets” - Could you please follow up on the security aspect of the Wallet? What makes it unique?

LS: Since its launch in 2018, Safe's smart contracts have stood strong, going through rigorous security tests, including a process called Formal Verification. What makes Safe{Wallet} stand out is the multi-signature feature, ensuring no unauthorized actions can happen even if an individual signer's key gets compromised. With Safe overseeing tens of billions in assets and zero hack incidents over half a decade, it's clear that users have a lot of confidence in its security capabilities.

PWN:  Try to name three things that are driving you about smart contract wallets.


  • Solving EOA Flaws. While Externally Owned Accounts (EOAs) brought simplicity to crypto, they're also notoriously flawed in user experience. With billions reportedly locked due to bad UX single point of failure with storing private keys, the industry needs a fix. Smart accounts, backed by industry leaders like Vitalik Buterin, are the solution we need, providing a seamless experience without compromising on sovereignty.

  • Boosting Interoperability. The shift to smart accounts isn't just about user experience; it's about ensuring a connected web3 ecosystem. Introducing the Safe{Core} Protocol is a game-changer, aiming to provide a unified standard. This approach tackles fragmentation, prevents vendor lock-in, and upholds freedom of choice in the web3 space.

  • Enhancing Security. As the crypto space evolves, security remains paramount. With its modular smart accounts, Safe has emerged as a trusted standard, securing over $56 billion in assets. It is my dream and the vision at Safe to ensure that everyone, everywhere, is genuinely Safe!

PWN:  Which are the main activities you plan with Safe in the next 3 years?

LS: Three years is a long time in crypto, and the landscape is constantly rapidly evolving; however, at Safe, our ambition is clear: we want to steward the transition of the ecosystem to smart accounts. There are a few pivotal things that we are working on to accelerate this.

PWN: Can you delve in?

LS: First, Safe{Core} Protocol Implementation. This is the linchpin of our strategy. Transitioning to smart accounts requires a reliable foundation, and the Safe{Core} Protocol aims to provide that. By introducing standardized modules, interoperability features, and stringent security protocols, we're setting the stage for an organized shift.

Second, Safe{AAccelerator} Program. In partnership with Longhash, our accelerator program is designed to catalyze projects venturing into the domain of smart accounts. We're committing technical and financial resources to back 25-30 pioneering projects, fostering an ecosystem that aligns with our vision.

Growth and collaboration are vital. Our plan involves broadening our network of projects and partners, ensuring that Safe{Core} becomes an industry standard for those wishing to build on a state-of-the-art account abstraction platform.

As such, we encourage developers, projects, and everyone in the community to comment on the Safe{Core} Protocol Whitepaper as well as the protocol specs and implementation. We recommend engaging with Safe{AAccelerator} program where opportunities abound. Projects can benefit immensely from our resources, mentorship, and funding avenues, propelling them further in their smart account journey.

PWN: Safe is now available on 12+ networks, including the most recent zkSync Era. Why is it important for Safe to be deployed on these EVMs?

LS: Actually, the Safe Smart Account contracts are deployed on 140 different chains. But the Safe{Wallet} interface currently supports 14 networks. It's genuinely all about meeting users where they are and user-feedback is a primary driver to identify which chains to support.

PWN: When do you think it will be ‘normal’ for families or close friends to use multisig wallets for their onchain transactions?

LS: They can today! The transformative features of account abstraction are available, providing multisig capabilities, batched transactions, relaying, and recovery mechanisms at the contract level. But to better relate this to our everyday lives, consider the recently launched Gnosis Pay and Gnosis Card.

Just as people use traditional debit cards for daily transactions, the Gnosis Card will allow EU, EEA, and UK residents (with upcoming expansions to the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, and Hong Kong) to make payments anywhere Visa is accepted, directly from their wallets. No pre-payments, no hassles. This is a real-world integration of the blockchain ecosystem, and Safe plays a pivotal role here, as Gnosis Pay is built on top of Safe.

PWN: You are supporting builders. This year you did Safe “March for Account Abstraction” Hackathon, you run Safe Grants Program with Safe DAO and now you opened Safe{AAccelerator} program. Tell us more about it.

LS: Safe's vision has always been forward-focused, emphasizing the seamless transition to smart accounts. By establishing the Safe Foundation, we've earmarked a substantial $500,000 for this year’s grant round.

However, our commitment continues beyond financial support. The Safe Accelerator Program, as highlighted earlier, is a testament to our dedication. By aiding 25-30 projects building on the Safe{Core} account abstraction standard, we aim to expedite the adoption of smart accounts. Our recent Safe{Con} conference was another stride in this direction, fostering dialogue and collaboration.

PWN: Is there something you would like to put a spotlight on?

LS: As I mentioned earlier, in crypto today, there exists a prevailing misconception that our choices are binary: we either trust a centralized custodian—with its associated pitfalls such as opacity and potential misappropriation of assets—or we delve into the chaotic world of self-custody using EOAs, fraught with the vulnerability of a single point of failure with private keys. What if there was a middle ground?

At Safe, we're exploring "hybrid custody." It combines the control of self-custody with some safety nets often found in centralized systems. Users have their main keys but also benefit from trusted backups for things like account recovery. It's like having your house keys but knowing there's a trusted neighbor with a spare if you ever lose yours. This way, we merge the best of both worlds: the freedom of self-custody and the safety of traditional systems.

We see the future of crypto heading to hybrid custody, bridging gaps, and introducing more secure, user-friendly solutions to onboard a billion people to self-custody.

PWN: Is this both what excites you the most in DeFi and what could lead to the next bull run?

LS: Indeed, the DeFi space is continuously evolving, and there's genuine excitement about more innovative self-custody systems and hybrid models. With regular private key accounts showing limitations and risks, the shift toward smart accounts becomes vital. Safe is pioneering this with the introduction of the Safe{Core} Protocol, which envisions a seamless transition to modular, interoperable smart accounts. This isn't just about improving user experience; it's about revolutionizing crypto ownership and ensuring that as we grow, we're prepared, adaptable, and, most importantly, safe.

PWN’s Cryptonatives is an interview series with some of the brightest minds within the Web3 and DeFi space who are building and making active use of the services that today’s crypto ecosystem has to offer. Through shedding light on their experiences and lessons learned throughout their careers, it’s our team’s goal to educate the masses and further spread our guests’ wealth of knowledge.

Read through our previous Cryptonatives interview with Pedro Gomes.

Have someone that you’d love to see featured in the series? Reach out to us on Discord and let us know.

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