Abstracting gas fees

The Brale team spends an inordinate amount of time these days talking about, thinking about, and working with folks new to DeFi protocols. Most of the world’s CeFi & TradFi leaders still need to wrap their heads around gas fees which frequently come up as a barrier to entry.

Showing someone gas fee trackers rarely inspires confidence, even if the intent is to leverage the transparency of on-chain transactions. Gas fees are an essential part of DeFi to understand, but for many potential technology users, it’s like explaining rate limiting to someone just trying to move money from point A to B. It’s overkill.

If someone asks, “What does a transaction cost?” the answer is, “it varies; check out this dashboard to see the current price.”

Then a first-time technology user looks at something like the dashboard below, and the roundabout run on the intellectual hamster wheel begins. If everything here is somewhat new, it can be challenging to understand what all this means.

It’s common that this results in confusion and distraction. As a result, explaining Gas fees to a banker typically looks like the following passage.

Gas fees are a way to ensure that all transactions on a blockchain network are processed in a fair and efficient manner. They are typically paid in the native cryptocurrency of the blockchain, such as Ether (ETH) on the Ethereum network. Gas fees are used to compensate the miners or validators who process and validate transactions, and to prevent spamming or overloading of the network.

There are several challenges associated with gas fees on blockchain networks. One major challenge is scalability. As more people use a blockchain network, the demand for transactions increases, which can lead to higher gas fees and longer confirmation times. This can make it difficult for small transactions or for users with limited resources to access the network.

Another challenge is volatility. Gas fees can fluctuate greatly depending on network demand, and this can make it difficult for users to predict how much they will need to pay for a given transaction. This can lead to uncertainty and can make it difficult for businesses to plan for and budget for their use of the blockchain.

A third challenge is accessibility. High gas fees can make it difficult for people in developing countries or with limited resources to access blockchain networks. This can limit the potential reach of the technology and make it less accessible to a wider range of users.

Overall, gas fees are an important aspect of the functioning of blockchain networks, but they also pose a number of challenges that need to be addressed in order for the technology to be widely adopted and used.

All this time and explanation occurs before we even get to other issues like managing pre-funding, keys, or accounting related to gas fees that Brale lays out as questions to answer.

Brale spent some time doing what we felt was obvious and just abstracted gas fees from the experience of using our products. 

It’s a little thing, but it also feels like a sign of the times. The technology works wonderfully, and it’s time to update the UX a bit to make it easier.