Visa Tests Way to Make Paying Ethereum Gas Fees Easier

The process is too complex for the masses, the company said.

AccessTimeIconAug 11, 2023 at 5:22 p.m. UTC
Updated Aug 11, 2023 at 6:46 p.m. UTC

Paying fees for transactions on the Ethereum blockchain is too complicated for most people.

That's the belief of credit-card giant Visa (V). It has completed testing a new way to allow users to pay the fees, known as "gas fees," in fiat currency with their credit card, the company wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

The payments company said blockchain technology could “shape the future of money movement” and has gained significant adoption in the past few years. However, facilitating transactions on-chain remains too complex for most users.

Every time a user conducts a transaction on Ethereum, he or she must pay a gas fee. That includes sending and receiving ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain, over the blockchain. Managing a user's ETH balance to cover those costs is “burdensome,” Visa said in the blog post. Eliminating the complexity could make blockchain-based transactions more accessible and user-friendly, Visa added.

“When comparing the complex nature of blockchain transactions with the simplicity of fiat-based payment transactions supported by the Visa network, it becomes evident that improvement is needed,” Visa said.

To bridge the gap, Visa suggests leveraging Ethereum’s ERC-4337, the current standard that enables smart contracts on the blockchain to serve as wallets via a process called "account abstraction," and a paymaster contract — a smart-contract account that can sponsor gas fees on behalf of the user. The service would allow users to use a Visa card to pay directly for gas fees.

Testing of this process was performed on the Ethereum Goerli "testnet," a test network for Ethereum.

Visa said merchants or decentralized applications could run their paymaster system or use an existing wallet to make transactions easier. The paymaster service providers could also offer a choice of card-based gas fee payment, among other options.

The payments company has been active in the crypto sector for a while, experimenting with different projects. In February, Visa looked into how to convert digital assets into fiat payments.

Edited by Aoyon Ashraf and Mark Nacinovich.


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Helene Braun

Helene is a New York-based news reporter at CoinDesk, currently covering the criminal trial of infamous crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried. Helene is a recent graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program and has appeared on CBS News and Nasdaq TradeTalks. She holds BTC and ETH.

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