Today’s login experiences rely on accounts controlled by centralized identity providers, for-profit behemoths like Google, Facebook, and Apple. Identity providers often have sole discretion over the existence and use of users’ digital identities across the web, fundamentally at odds with the best interest of users.
The Ethereum Foundation and Ethereum Name Service (ENS) put forward a Request for Proposal for Sign-in with Ethereum in 2021, which would enable users to use their Ethereum accounts to access web services instead of accounts owned by large corporations.
The Ethereum ecosystem already has tens of millions of monthly active wallet users signing with their cryptographic keys for financial transactions, community governance, and more.
The security of these wallets has been proven across billions of dollars of digital assets at stake--not theoretical security, but real tests in production. These secure wallets can also be used to sign in to Web2 services.
Benefits to Web2 and Web3
Sign-In with Ethereum describes how Ethereum accounts authenticate with off-chain services by signing a standard message format parameterized by scope, session details, and security mechanisms (e.g., a nonce).
Already, many services support workflows to authenticate Ethereum accounts using message signing, such as establishing a cookie-based web session which can manage privileged metadata about the authenticating address.
For Web2, this is an opportunity to give users control over their identifiers and slowly introduce their dedicated user bases to Web3. By providing a strict specification that can be followed along with any necessary tooling to ease any integration concerns, Sign-In with Ethereum has a chance at truly transforming the way in which individuals interact with apps and services.
For Web3, this is an opportunity to standardize the sign-in workflow and improve interoperability across existing services, while also providing wallet vendors a reliable method to identify signing requests as Sign-In with Ethereum requests for improved UX.