Sep 13, 2023

Ethereum developer Consensys announced a new feature called "MetaMask Snaps," allowing users to choose from a variety of app-like or add-on customizations for their browser extension.

Video transcript

A web three wall at meta mask is taking the first step towards building a permission list ecosystem with the launch of snaps. Joining us now to discuss is Meta mask co-founder, Dan Finlay. Welcome to the show, Dan. Hi, thanks for having me. Thanks for being here. All right, we're talking about snaps this morning in a tweet thread meta mask said that you quote, had an idea to build a platform that invites the developer community to build their own solutions to the hardest problems in web three without meta masks, approval and quote. Tell us how snaps does that. Yeah. So Snaps is basically a plug-in system for the wallet and it lets you add new protocols and security providers into the wallet. And so it's gonna make it a lot easier for the wallet to kind of keep up with the kinds of innovation and different kinds of security opportunities that are uh getting invented every single day. You know, there are so many kinds of attacks and then there's also so many kinds of opportunities that um to kind of just curate the feature set of a crypto wallet is uh it's almost a disservice to how open ended this ecosystem is. So we really see this as a, it's, it's about the user's wallet kind of stepping up to match the open endedness of the ecosystem that it's trying to serve. Do you have a real world example of that happening? Uh You know, can, can you, can you like cite some examples of how that would work? OK. So, I mean, for example, a few of the snaps say that are launching, we've got support for Bitcoin and Cosmos and Stark Ware and uh leap. And uh uh uh we've got Teso lots of blockchains that have been kind of otherwise, you know, in the past, it's been like um you come up with a new Blockchain. Now you have to basically make your own meta mask or your own wallet and then you have to try to, you know, you really start from zero to get up to 100. And what we're trying to do is really compress the amount of work it takes for, for some new innovation in the space to reach end users. Another category of snaps that we've got today is uh transaction security providers. So something that I recommend every meta mask user do is, you know, today, go to snaps dot meta mask dot IO and check out some of the transaction security uh snaps because we've got partnerships with nine different companies that are all doing different things from A I uh analysis to curated pitching lists to provide extra insights when you perform a transaction to help you recognize whether it might be suspicious or dangerous in any known way. Um So that's, that's another way where, you know, we do everything we can to keep users safe. We keep a fishing list. You know, we, we work with various partners to help take down sites as quickly as possible. But obviously, it's not enough yet. We've got a lot of rampant scams and we kind of need all hands on deck. So this is kind of our opening the gates trying to bring in as many helpers as possible to, to keep users safer while also expanding the opportunities. Are there any checks and balances in place to ensure that the helpers that come in these third party developers that are able to independently um ship snaps are good actors and they're not themselves implementing fishing scams or these scams that have been become synonymous with the industry via this. Yeah. So in this first release of snaps, all of the snaps and partners are getting individually audited, so they're particularly safe right now, they're also each getting confined very tightly within actually two layers of boxing inside of the wallet. Um There's one I frame and then one secure ecmascript uh for the techies uh involved. Um And uh when you install a snap, you get a list of very specific permissions that they'll have access to. So it may only have access to, you know, the, the proposed transactions that you're considering and the network and with that, it's not enough to uh perform any particular, you know, it can't steal your keys or anything, but it can suggest uh whether a given action is dangerous. Um And then we've also got some uh notification providers that can help, like let you know if you've got outstanding allowances to a malicious contract. Um And there's even one snap that built a chat system in it. So, uh yeah, a lot of possibilities. I know there's an interoperability piece here um across different ecosystems traditionally or I guess uh many times when we see interoperability, there are vulnerabilities that are introduced. We saw that with um bridging. Are there any vulnerabilities that are introduced here with snaps allowing users to operate across different ecosystems via their meta mask wallet? Oh, well, I, I certainly hope not. Um You know, so these are client side wallet plugins. So they're not introducing any additional bridges. And so there aren't any uh any particular risks that simply uh you know, when you install a snap, that snap is managing that protocol's accounts for you. So, uh the worst thing that can happen is that you uh basically enlist the snap to uh manage your accounts and it was a bad one. But right now we're auditing all of the snaps and um while we uh have plans to get fully permission list, there's still going to be checks in place. And we're, we're exploring the protocols that we want to uh use when we finally go uh full, fully open. And there's still gonna be multiple layers of protection to keep people safe. Um So, so there's always gonna be risk with new opportunities. Um But I think that these current snaps, it's a, it's a set of really well known and well vetted uh wallet developers and um that are kind of now pitching in to contribute to the meta mask experience. So back when uh X was called Twitter, you said you'd want to dump uh you, you're thinking of dumping apple because of uh the potential of them knocking you out of the uh app store, but you're still on the App Store. Does it bother you? They use slave labor to build their, their iphones? Oh, sure, sure. I, I would love to see, I would love to see the economy uh move to a, a far, far more um uh labor negotiated arrangement. Um but that's a long journey, but nonetheless, I mean, they, they get it in all seriousness. Are you willing to, are, are, do you still want to dump uh apple because of their situa? I mean, you're on the App Store there? I mean, do you, do you have a problem with them uh still with them potentially knocking them out of there? What's your relationship with that? Yeah. So I think the tweet they're referring to was related to uh they, they were starting to block us from making updates in the App Store and actually other crypto companies too. And that's a serious uh concern. And, you know, I, I think, I think it, they occasionally flex it and fortunately right now they're not uh doing that. We, of course, are always building in medi mitigation strategies because these, you know, we build on top of the platforms that allow us to bring our futures to end users where they are today. And you know, if these big behemoths decide to suddenly uh try to cut uh entire economy out, um we have to have other plans. So we're not, we're not like moving out of apple on principle today. But, you know, I think that we're aware that they seem to not have the most um kind relationship to us. And so we have to kind of be ready and on our heels and uh sometimes uh when they like to play with their policy games. Well, at least you're not a five year old in Western China building the phone just saying. Yeah. Yeah. All right. And Dan, we got to ask you about some other news that came out of meta mask, recently, meta masks, cell feature. So now users are able to cash out ether to fiat currency in the US, the UK. And I believe Europe uh tell us about the cell feature. It sounds like your plans for meta mask are really to cater to the more mainstream audience um by implementing this and the paypal partnership that you recently implemented. Uh tell us about what went into the cell feature. Yeah. So uh meta mask and uh and the paypal partnership are both kinds of features of the meta mask portfolio. So if you go to portfolio dot meta mask dot IO, we've got this kind of suite of nicely curated crypto experiences that are especially friendly to users who are maybe newer to D I just want to have a trusted interface for finding the best rates on a variety of features. So the cell feature is basically us working with a bunch of partners in a bunch of different regions to help users more easily find uh the best rates that we can uh get for them uh to connect and off ramp directly to their bank account or in the paypal case, uh to put some of their US dollars into crypto. We know about the paypal partnership. Any other big names you're working with to implement this feature on uh one of the big ones for the off ramp right now is Moon Pay. They're, they're definitely doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Um But, but yeah, we're, we're constantly looking for more partners, especially in more regions because that's kind of what it takes. We need people who are specialized on, you know, on the ground floor at different areas So that's really what lets uh more people kind of access crypto Dan. Thanks very much for joining us this morning and congratulations on the launch of Snaps. Thanks. That was Meta Mask, co founder Dan Finlay.

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