There are a myriad of fascinating applications of web3, and one that I want to deep dive into today is the potential daily applications of software wallets, or as I recently started thinking about them - the digital “Mary Poppins bags”.
As a kid, I loved the movie Mary Poppins (the 1964 version!). Besides the wonderful songs and crazy animated scene half way through the movie, one thing that caught my eye was the Mary Poppins bag.
The Mary Poppins bag was magical. In a famous scene with the two Banks children - Jane and Michael - Mary Poppins opens her bag, and starts pulling out objects much larger than the bag itself. A coat hanger, a lamp, a large plant and much much more. It was incredible.
As my co-founder and I were brainstorming ideas for our startup, one thing that kept coming up in the discussion were the magical properties of wallets. To us, they felt like a digital version of the Mary Poppins bag.
Wallets combine two things in a very special way - your funds and your identity (identity being your info, NFTs, digital goods etc). This combination creates an almost infinite number of daily use use-cases. Below I wanted to describe a couple I’m particularly excited about.
Disclaimer: in reality, wallets are interfaces for private keys on the blockchain, and the magic itself is in the blockchain. As @damedoteth says, “the [wallet] is the finger pointing to the moon, not the moon itself” (twitter thread). Here I merge definitions.
Single sign in devices
Wallets are single sign-on devices - an email as an identifier doesn’t tell you much about a person. It is a “shallow” identifier. A wallet, on the other hand, is a "deep" identifier and can tell you much more.
It lets you move your information, re-use your info across sites, and “pack your bags'' and leave if you’re unhappy. The first time you connect your wallet to Opensea, or Uniswap is a magical experience. It’s what login and account creation should really be.
Wallets are passports - with wallets, you can share information in a unique privacy-preserving way. Using verifiable credentials and DIDs, you can prove you are you, share attestations, and store key information, all without having to present the “passport details” page.
Imagine being able to prove your identity online with a single click, without having to re-upload an ID or take a new selfie. Projects like @centre_io 's https://verite.id explore this on KYC, @Sismo_eth explores attestations, and the concepts expand far beyond those.
Wallets are wallets (yes yes I know - bear with me) - you can pay for goods or services, transfer money to friends, and settle global transactions in a matter of seconds. Stablecoins such as USDC make these even more useful. It’s a full financial device in your pocket.
Notarized storage devices
Wallets are notarized data storage devices - with NFTs, wallets can essentially serve as stores of notarized documents, such as diplomas and deeds to your house.
As an example, you will one day be able to prove you went to a school without an employer having to call and verify your education, simply by providing a notarized copy of your diploma, or even just proof that you own that diploma, without sharing your actual diploma details.
Wallets are show and tell devices - because wallets store your identity, such as NFTs and digital goods, they can serve as devices to show what you own and are passionate about. Wallet like @rainbowdotme do an incredible job of highlighting the NFTs you own. Overtime, the digital goods that you own can serve as phenomenal ways for individuals to express what they are passionate about.
Wallets are your access keys - a wallet can store NFTs or tokens that serve as access keys to clubs, DAOs and organizations. Today this is mostly formed around digital experiences, but can quickly expand to the physical world.
Wallets can one day be communication devices - You can easily have DAOs and services send you messages, communicate between wallets, and align financial incentives to reduce spam. @ShaneMac and the @xmtp_ are working on one incredible project to tackle this.
Wallets are in their early days. There are outstanding questions around wallet security, custodial vs non-custodial options, recovery methods, and much more. Over time those will be resolved, and we will finally get our digital version of the magical Mary Poppins bag.