Etherless Transactions using Gas Station Networks

Mar 7, 2022by, Beno Sam Binu

Block Chain

De-Fi applications are getting momentum everyday, more and more crypto coins pop up in every blockchain network, and the general population is adopting the crypto world more than ever. A trustless and decentralized way to onboard new users that don’t have ETH to cover the transaction cost must be discovered.

DeFi applications gain value through the network effect. The value Defi users gained adds up as more users join the ecosystem. However, users are forced to overcome several obstacles that make the task a bit tedious: go to a central exchange, go through a Know Your Customer (KYC) process, and wait for authorities’ approval, transfer money from their Bank, buy ETH, install crypto wallets, learn how to use and transfer ETH to it, etc. All these efforts are just for users to start playing with a dapp that offers very little value at this point and hence users don’t get on board and dapps do not take off. Another problem is that interacting with Dapp requires users to buy ETH from any centralized exchange with a KYC process and this seems to go against the spirit of blockchain and decentralization.

What is the Gas Station Network?

The Gas Stations Network (GSN) is a decentralized and trustworthy way of performing reverse charge calls to smart contracts. Users can start using Dapp right away as Dapp pays the transaction costs for verified transactions. 

Dapps have different business models, users could be charged through other means including credit cards, or they could even sponsor the cost of the transaction to onboard a  large number of users and popularize them.

How does Gas Station Network works?

Gas Stations

The network consists mainly of gas stations (relays) that are responsible for posting their tariffs and urls on the blockchain network, accepting transactions without ether from users, supplying them with gas by signing the transaction, returning them to the user and to the blockchain and being rewarded for their service. Gas stations and users don’t trust each other.

Anchor of Trust

A single open source smart contract, RelayHub, acts as a relay recorder, brokering transactions between Relays and Dapp contracts, and emits events to help users find Relays and evaluate their reputation. RelayHub holds small Dapps deposits and uses them to settle relays for transactions accepted by Dapps.
Relays have to stake ETH at RelayHub when they register. This bet is used to prevent certain DoS or censorship attacks outlined in the attack section of EIP 1613. Honest relays earn transaction fees and fraudulent relays lose their stake.
Every interaction between a user and a relay is a short http session. At the end of this HTTP transaction, the user receives a compliance bonus that keeps the relay honest, so the user knows that the transaction has been relayed without having to wait for mining. A failed request can be recognized immediately and the user moves on to the next relay. The network is censorship-resistant as long as there is at least one honest broadcast.

The User App

From the user’s point of view, the application (web or mobile) transparently selects a relay and delivers the transaction to the blockchain. Behind the scenes, the app chooses a relay based on information from the chain about transaction fees and ongoing reputation, tries to send the transaction through the selected relay, knows immediately if the request has been processed, or tries the next relay again. This instant validation process allows for fast iteration so that malicious or malfunctioning relays cannot cause long delays and the transaction is delivered on time.
Gas Stations Network solves one of the biggest User Experience challenges of Ethereum – quickly and easily onboarding users, which enables Dapps to scale quickly. This is done in a decentralized and trustworthy manner, without requiring any changes to the way Ethereum works. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Dexlock.