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Original author: Kaori, BlockBeats

Original editor: Jack, BlockBeats


MetaMask may be facing its toughest test since its founding.

Many encryption users have said they have uninstalled the MetaMask plug-in, and many newcomers to encryption who entered the circle through Inscription have not even heard of the name. We noticed that MetaMask no longer seems as indispensable as it once was. Facing the intensifying external competitive environment, MetaMasks internal product logic has been misaligned, resulting in a sharp decline in its competitiveness. ConsenSys, its backer, focuses on ideology and cannot embed the user-first product spirit into its moat. Although the encryption market has ushered in a bull market, today MetaMask is in an existential crisis.

This is the most fierce market competition since the establishment of MetaMask

With its early zero competition environment and the support of ConsenSys behind it, MetaMask has gained an unshakable ecological position in the Ethereum ecosystem. However, with the rise of Bitcoin, Solana and other ecosystems, vertical competition on the wallet track is catching up, and the development of CEX Web3 wallet products continue to develop, and MetaMask is facing the most fierce market competition since its establishment.

Bitcoin and Solana Ecosystems Rise Strongly

In May last year, the popularity of the Ordinals protocol increased, and the wealth effect began to appear. The news of ORDI per capita increased by 1,000 times spread in various WeChat groups. In the following days, $NALS, $UTXO, $ELON and other ten-fold and hundred-fold coins appeared one after another. coin opportunity. A large number of users entered the BRC market with FOMO, and the BRC-20 related WeChat groups, ranging from one group to eight groups, were all full in less than one afternoon. Then starting from October, with the expectation of Bitcoin spot ETF, with Inscription as the core, Bitcoin NFT, infrastructure and other related concepts have achieved extremely high growth. The Bitcoin ecology has risen strongly, in terms of market volume, price performance and other dimensions. Crush Ethereum.

The “Inscription Summer” in 2023, like the ICO in 2017 and the DeFi Summer in 2020, has injected a lot of fresh blood into the crypto world through the wealth creation effect. Unlike the previous one that started in Ethereum, this time it happened in Bitcoin Ecology later spread to various public chains, including Ethereum.

In the early days, as the only on-chain entrance and exit for buying and selling BRC tokens, the Bitcoin wallet UniSat became a name discussed in the entire currency circle. It was one of the few early projects that truly grasped the explosion of the Bitcoin ecosystem. Around May 2023, Dune data shows that the number of daily unique users of Unisat during this period was around 4,000 to 8,000, which was absolutely mainstream in the market at that time.


From the comparison chart of the number of transactions between the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks in the same period, it can be seen that in the second half of 2023, the activity of the Bitcoin network will be significantly higher than that of Ethereum. Therefore, MetaMask, which focuses on the Ethereum ecosystem, has not taken advantage of it. to gain traffic growth as a bonus.


In addition to the rise of the Bitcoin ecosystem, there is also Solana, which has mastered the counterattack script. SOL is one of the leaders in the currency price rebound in the second half of 2023. As of the end of 2023, SOLs market value is US$43.8 billion, a month-on-month increase of 423%, a year-on-year increase 1106%. Meme coins BONK and JTO airdrops took the lead, bringing the popularity of Solana ecology out of the circle. The meme season that followed even made Solana DEX transaction volume surpass Ethereum for a time, allowing Solana ecology infrastructure projects to gain a lot of revenue, including DEX Raydium and the wallet Phantom.


Phantom is to Solana what MetaMask is to Ethereum. Solana specializes in the non-EVM ecology. Phantom has achieved the best, but it does not stop there. In May 2023, Phantom announced that it would also support the EVM ecosystem, and multiple other wallet products could be added to the wallet. With the strong return of Solana, Phantom has gained a firm foothold on the wallet track and has become an opponent that MetaMask cannot ignore.

Competitors overtaking in corners

MetaMask not only has many competing products in the non-EVM ecosystem, but competition among wallets in the Ethereum ecosystem is also fierce.

Rainbow is targeting MetaMasks target users through differentiated marketing strategies. It has launched a points program to attract users with airdrops, and has also prepared points for users who have used MetaMasks trading function. Rainbow said of this provocative strategy, This is not a vampire attack. This is a fox hunt.


Rainbow wallet uses two emojis to represent Operation Fox Hunt

The special thing about Rainbow is that it has access to Coingecko data and directly displays the token price changes on the token trading interface on the plug-in side. Users can view the tokens in hours, days, and hours without jumping to other pages. Price changes on weekly, monthly and annual scales. For users, they often need to check the price fluctuations of tokens while trading tokens. This function fits the users usage scenarios very well. MetaMask only provides token trading functions on this interface. Users need to click Portfolio to jump to the web page to view the increase and other information.

In addition to Rainbow, there is also Rabby who was recently named and praised by V God. When discussing how to responsibly abstract the complexity of modular blockchains from end users at the Ethereum Foundation AMM, Vitalik said wallets can do a good job in this area, and he believes that Rabby is in the aggregation of cross-chain views. Just do a great job. Rabby is an open source Web3 wallet created by the on-chain tool DeBank. It can automatically switch to the corresponding chain based on the website the user visits, providing a multi-chain experience. On the plug-in interface, its entrances and functions are richer than Rainbow.MetaMask的存亡之秋:比特币生态强势崛起,竞争对手弯道超车

MetaMasks competitors go beyond independent wallet products, as well as DEX and CEX. Previously, Coinbase launched its own wallet Coinbase Wallet, and later Uniswap launched its own wallet Uniswap Wallet, because everyone has realized that the wallet is the core starting point in the business scenario. If you grasp the wallet, you will have a traffic entrance, which can form a business Closed loop, and in this regard, MetaMasks rival is OKXs Web3 wallet.


As mentioned earlier, Unisat has become a new wallet force by seizing the opportunity of the Bitcoin ecosystem, but the biggest winner of BRC-20 is actually OKX and its Web3 wallet. The BRC 20 craze started by Unisat lasted until the end of May 2023, and then the inscription market fell into a trough due to safety doubts. However, the BRC 20 and Ordinals NFT transactions launched by OKX Wallet in June restored the entire markets confidence in the Bitcoin ecosystem. In October, the number of downloads of the OKX Web3 wallet plug-in reached 200,000. As of writing, the number of downloads in the Google Store is 500,000.

However, the OKX Web3 wallet leveraged market share through inscriptions and gave users more unexpected experiences. I realized this because I saw a tutorial on buying coins in a community. You only need to copy the Dapp trading official website to buy coins. Before this, the author has never used functions other than the OKX Web3 wallet mobile BRC-20 market. Through on-chain transactions, so when I saw this simple transaction tutorial, I couldn’t help but feel a little unbelievable, “Is it so convenient to buy coins on a mobile phone?”

At first, I couldnt even find the entrance to copy the DEX official website, but after completing the transaction through the mobile wallet, everything was just like Web2s RSS subscription service, and the experience was very smooth. However, the presence of Xiaofox on the mobile phone has not always been very high, and the tools for users to access business scenarios will bring an obvious sense of experience segmentation. Specifically reflected in the product data, the registration conversion rate of new users is very low, and the completion rate of calling MetaMask for signing in mobile business scenarios is also very low.

In addition to the mobile phone version, the plug-in version of the OKX Web3 wallet can be seen from the UI interface, which provides more detailed improvements compared with the MetaMask wallet. For example, in the Select Network section of the wallet, the MetaMask on the left needs to be added manually. The OKX Web3 wallet on the right displays all supported networks and provides the All Networks option for users to view all assets in the account. In the currency display interface, the OKX Web3 wallet not only displays the quantity and balance, but also displays the current price and increase or decrease of the currency.


Left: MetaMask plug-in interface Right: OKX Web3 wallet plug-in interface

Some users in the community have reported that there is a conflict between OKX Web3 wallet and MetaMask on the web page. When connecting to the Little Fox Wallet, the OKX wallet option will always pop up. This shows the efforts made by OKX Wallet in grabbing user market share. But behind the scenes, we should pay more attention to the fact that the Web3 industry is transforming from a cryptopunk-friendly financial game to a mass-friendly consumer application industry. No matter what the attitude is, grabbing users is the most important thing for a products long-term survival.

Being developer-oriented, it is difficult to create a new moat for MetaMask

Brandon Millman, CEO of Phantom Wallet, once said, It is obvious that MetaMask was built by developers for other developers. This actually makes sense, because most users of Ethereum were developers in the early days.

The user education cost of blockchain products is very high, and the wallet is the most basic but also the most critical step. MetaMask benefited from the support of the Ethereum community in its early days. At that time, zero competitive environment was the best barrier for Metamask wallet to occupy a huge market share, and the cost of user education was very low because all users were developers. Developers are also all users. However, this strategy was suitable in the early stages of industry development, but now this developer-oriented product replacement idea has given many new wallet products that work hard on user experience the opportunity to carve up MetaMask market share.

In MetaMasks product strategy, user experience is not its first consideration. In other words, compared to developers, ordinary consumer users are not MetaMasks main frame of reference for building products. This all stems from MetaMasks clear positioning of itself, not to compete with wallet categories with low barriers to entry, but to open up the functionality of the wallet to expand its possibilities. In the short term, it is difficult for this strategic layout for developers to establish an effective moat and obtain excess returns in the current competition in the encryption market.

Pay more attention to developers

If you are a wallet product builder, I am sure you are familiar with MetaMask’s product updates in recent years; but if you are just an ordinary end user, the MetaMask you used two or three years ago does not seem to have the same operating experience as the MetaMask today. no difference.

In October 2020, MetaMask launched the aggregation DEX service MetaMask Swaps, allowing users to directly exchange tokens based on MetaMask. Through this function, MetaMask finally has a sustainable income model, but this is also a rare feature of MetaMask for ordinary wallets. User-friendly product updates.MetaMask的存亡之秋:比特币生态强势崛起,竞争对手弯道超车

MetaMask hits $200 million in revenue in 2021 with Swap feature

MetaMask launched MetaMask Institutional (MMI) in 2021 for institutional customers with both a large user base and the ability to pay to bridge the gap between traditional financial structures and blockchain technology. In January 2022, MetaMask launched the developer version MetaMask Flask. Developers can build MetaMask Snaps through Flask and extend MetaMasks functions at runtime without MetaMasks participation.

Until September last year, the first version of MetaMask Snaps was officially launched, providing 34 Snaps including transaction insights that can identify potential security risks, interoperability with non-EVM chains such as Bitcoin, and Web3 notifications. However, as an ordinary user, it seems that there is no substantial experience improvement in this update.

MetaMask Snaps require users to add them manually, which is a very cost-effective option for users who are not familiar with Snap product logic. More than 30 Snaps include many functions. Just like the mini programs launched by WeChat, users can get many incremental experiences or include behaviors outside the ecosystem. However, this is based on Snaps indispensable ability to break the circle. Otherwise, users have no way of knowing what they can do with these Snaps, just like a small program failing to start cold.

For example, the EthSign developer team created a universal password manager called KeyChain based on MetaMask Snaps. All browser passwords can be encrypted and stored using wallet keys. This itself is a very marketable product concept, but it has not achieved a circle-breaking effect. Or the Dialog function of MetaMask Snap can pop up a separate window, similar to the traditional alert/confirmation/prompt dialog box, which is used for transaction reminder, confirmation and information submission respectively, but obviously this does not help to improve the users trading experience. Not big.


Image source:LXDAO

Although each user using the MetaMask wallet can set up different Snaps according to their own needs to meet personalized needs, MetaMask Snaps does not solve the problem of the high threshold for using crypto wallets, and does not achieve the purpose of acquiring new users. Provide existing users with a better experience and more features to retain existing users.

MetaMask product leader Alex once said in an interview that the entire team is very clear about MetaMasks positioning. Its main purpose is not to compete with the wallet category with low entry barriers, but to open up the functionality of the wallet to expand its possibilities. For example, if developers want to enhance security by using advanced encryption technologies such as Multi-Party Computation (MPC) and Threshold Signature Scheme (TSS), they can create a Snap and attach it to MetaMask to achieve this functionality. Or for those working on developing account abstraction solutions, they could develop a Snap and attach it to a MetaMask to extend its functionality.

We have our own internal ideas, but we also want to make MetaMask flexible and adaptable to future technological developments. It can be seen that the MetaMask team is still focused on serving the developer-centered user group, but still maintains a relatively ambiguous attitude towards consumer user-level user experience, account abstraction and other technologies. This is why MetaMask Snaps has not been used in general since its launch. The reason for causing too much splash among the user community.

It is also worth noting that MetaMask does not adhere to the user first principle in the feedback channel. The Google plug-in store can see that many user feedback contents have not been responded to by customer service. When responding to MetaMask product issues on Twitter, phishing accounts and fraudulent links often appear in the comment area.


Visionary ConsenSys: We don’t want to sink the market

MetaMask did not choose to enter the sinking market. The core reason lies in the parent company behind it, ConsenSys.

As mentioned earlier, after several years of hard work, MetaMask has now become one of the most successful incubation projects of ConsenSys. In addition, ConsenSys also owns the development suite Infura, the smart contract audit service Diligence, Ethereum Layer 2 Linea, and the Ethereum client Teku , Besu and other product sections.

The reason why ConsenSys is called a vision maniac is because it is different from other for-profit companies in the encryption world that are purely driven by economic interests in project construction. Its founder, Joseph Lubin, is one of the co-founders of Ethereum. ConsenSys seems to have inherited some of the genes of Ethereum, using the encryption vision as a compass for its business layout.

In 2023, ConsenSys Linea mainnet was launched, MetaMask Snaps was released, and activities such as the Web3 Fellowship program and Linea DeFi Voyage were launched. In September 2023, in order to better support Web3 builders, Consensys even announced the closure of its development tools Truffle and Ganache, turning the Truffle teams focus to expanding its Infura, MetaMask Snaps and SDK products.

It can be said that ConsenSys role in the encryption world is mainly to build infrastructure. It does not pay as much attention to polishing product details as CEX, which directly targets most users in the market. It is more like serving the Web3 industry rather than Web3 users.

MetaMask co-founder Aaron Davis celebrates his sixth anniversaryblogZhong once said that most of the things in Web3 that are popular now will not appear in 20 or 30 years. He is more focused on tracking themes and forms rather than details, so the MetaMask teams goal for Web3 is to build a Civilization starter kit. It can be seen that MetaMask executives also pay more attention to narrative and talk less about details in terms of development vision and product specific development strategy.

It’s not that MetaMask doesn’t want to serve users, but it wants to promote its products in a more secure and stable way. However, in the short term, it is difficult for such product logic to establish an effective moat for MetaMask to face today’s market competition. Because infrastructure and developers are of course crucial to the development of the entire industry, but when it comes to whether specific products can exist, it is always the users who have the final say.

Wallets are still the breakthrough point for Mass Adoption

Back recently, due to the recovery of the encryption market, more and more projects have launched interactive, testing or points activities, which makes it slightly cumbersome for users to manage assets and switch between different ecosystems. We used to say that there are countless chains, but now we have to say that there are countless wallets.

MetaMask is still the wallet with the largest market share today, but MetaMask has not been evaluated in line with its status in terms of user experience. Although the entire MetaMask team has excellent technology, they prefer to regard MetaMask as infrastructure and for Developers launch development tools rather than consumer projects, and this product change idea can also be seen from the launch of MetaMask Snap.

The role of wallets in the blockchain world is very special. It does not directly store value, but only serves as an account for users to manage assets on the chain. Therefore, it is difficult for wallets to build their own moats through technology.

Nowadays, the wallet market has entered the stage of sinking the market and competing for user shares. As the product closest to users in the blockchain infrastructure, user experience is the simplest and most important way for wallets to build a moat. MetaMask’s developer-centered product strategy and the mission of the new cycle wallet are misaligned.

By observing users and new technical directions, the most difficult problem is that the account system itself is not easy to use. A novice who wants to enter Web3 cannot be required to first learn how to add RPC to MetaMask. This is very unrealistic. And even for chain veterans, the complicated process of transferring assets, conducting transactions, and pledging assets between countless chains can be tiring.

Last year, Paradigm proposed intent-centric, which brought a new idea of ​​intent-centric to the encryption world to build Web3 interactive experience - hiding the complex operation process in the past, so that users can achieve their goals without any sense and directly. . Ideally, users only need to issue an intention command, and all operations can be automatically performed behind the scenes. This concept seems to be the best catalyst for the wallet to complete Mass Adoption.

Security is definitely the lifeline of a wallets survival, but traffic is more like the short board on the barrel. This article does not intend to criticize different wallets, but simply observes MetaMasks situation in the entire wallet track and possible problems from the perspective of an ordinary user. To rely on intent to achieve large-scale user adoption also depends on the optimization of protocols and infrastructure. When the cross-chain infrastructure is not yet complete, a good wallet may be the most important cross-chain product for ordinary users.

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