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Intent-Centric Navigation in the Web3 Space

Author: Levi

1. Introduction

In the crypto community, there has been a significant buzz surrounding the concept of “intents” and the “intent-centric approach.” It’s important to note that the intent-centric approach is not an entirely new concept; it has existed for some time. A precise and clear definition for this approach has yet to emerge, especially in the volatile crypto market where numerous made-up terms abound. This article aims to delve deeper into the concept of the intent-centric approach.

2. What is “intent”?

2.1 Definition

“Intent” refers to the specific goals, desires, or purposes that users have when interacting with a technology or system. It represents the reason behind a user’s actions and what they aim to achieve. Here are a few illustrative examples to facilitate better comprehension:

  • In DeFi: Within the DeFi sector, users’ intents can differ
    • Some users may be interested in utility-oriented DeFi tools, such as decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and lending protocols. Their primary intent when using these tools is often to efficiently facilitate financial transactions or access decentralized financial services. ⇒ Their intents are oriented towards borrowing, lending, or trading cryptocurrencies with ease and security.
    • Some users engaged in yield-oriented DeFi activities, such as liquidity staking or yield farming, have a different primary intent. They are often looking to maximize their returns on their cryptocurrency holdings by participating in various liquidity pools or yield-generating protocols. ⇒ Their intents are directed toward earning interest or rewards via these activities.
  • In GameFi: In GameFi, the user community can be divided into two main groups.
    • “Game” Emphasis: Some users are primarily interested in the gaming aspect of GameFi. ⇒ Their intents when participating in these decentralized games are centered around entertainment and enjoyment, much like traditional video games.
    • “Fi” Emphasis: Others are more inclined towards the financial aspect of GameFi. They are looking to capitalize on in-game mechanisms to earn rewards or profits. ⇒ Their intents are primarily focused on maximazing their gains within the game.

2.2 Different Types of Intents

  1. Simple Intents: Clear-cut desires without conditions. Examples:
    1. Want to buy a new black car.
    2. Want to schedule a meeting with a colleague next Tuesday.
    3. Want to sell all your Bitcoin when the price exceeds $100,000 per coin.
    4. Want to purchase 500 units of a new token at a price not exceeding $1 per unit.
    5. Want to transfer the entire balance from your cryptocurrency wallet to a cold wallet for secure storage.
  2. Searcher Intents: Precise desires with conditions for execution. Example:
    1. Want to buy a new mobile phone only when the price drops below $500 and with an installment option.
    2. Want to find a new role-playing game (RPG) only when the average rating of the game on review websites is at least 9/10.
    3. Want to exchange Bitcoin for Ethereum only when the price of Bitcoin increases by 5% and the price of Ethereum increases by 10% on the same day.
    4. Want to execute a purchase of token X only when the leverage ratio reaches an optimal level and the price of token Y is lower than the 30-day average.
    5. Want to automatically withdraw funds from your cryptocurrency wallet only when the exchange rate reaches a certain high threshold.
  3. Arbitrary Intents: Complex desires involving multiple conditions. Example:
    1. Want to optimize the family budget over the course of a year, including savings, investments, and major purchases.
    2. Want to create a unique game that includes its own storyline, graphics, and distinct gameplay mechanics, then release the game after completing development.
    3. Want to maximize profits in your investment portfolio within 3 months, including trading, staking, and farming across various DeFi platforms.
    4. Want to create an automated diversified trading strategy based on market indicators, news, and social information.
    5. Want to optimize the use of smart contract orders to automate trading and portfolio management in the multi-chain cryptocurrency environment.

3. What is intent-centric approach?

Intent-centric approach is a concept that simplifies the user experience (UX) by prioritizing the user’s intentions above all else. At its core, it revolves around the idea that users should be able to express their desires and objectives without needing to concern themselves with the intricate technical details or processes involved in achieving them. In simpler terms, it’s all about focusing on “what” the user wants, rather than getting bogged down in the “how” of achieving it.

One key aspect of intent-centric systems is their “journey-agnostic” nature. This means that the exact path or process taken to fulfill a user’s intent is not of primary importance to the user. What matters most is that the final result aligns with the conditions and parameters set by the user. In essence, intents are flexible in how they are achieved, as long as the end goal matches the user’s intent.

The term intent-centric approach denotes a profound transformation in how protocols and infrastructures are conceived and function. Unlike some systems that prioritize elements such as data storage, efficiency, or security over user intent, these intent-centric systems place their primary focus on comprehending and satisfying user goals and objectives. It’s important to recognize that user adoption of a product is not solely driven by fascination with its technological sophistication. While advanced technology can be impressive, it does not stand as the primary factor determining whether users will adopt and continue to use a product.

4. Examples of Intent-Centric Platform

4.1 Web2 Example

Let’s draw a comparison between the Traditional Taxi and Uber, which are both Web2 systems.

Benefits of an Intent-Centric Approach (Uber):

  • User Empowerment: An intent-centric approach empowers users to clearly express their desires and preferences, ensuring their transportation experience aligns with their intent.
  • Customization: Users can tailor the service to their specific needs, whether it’s a quiet ride for work, a spacious vehicle for a group, or an economical option for budget-conscious travelers.
  • Predictable Pricing: With upfront pricing and transparent fees, users have financial predictability, eliminating the uncertainty associated with traditional taxis.
  • Efficiency: An intent-centric system, like Uber, optimizes routes and resources, ensuring the most efficient path to fulfill the user’s intent, saving time and money.
  • Continuous Improvement: User feedback mechanisms and competition among providers in an intent-centric system drive constant improvement in service quality and user satisfaction.

An intent-centric approach, exemplified by Uber, revolutionizes the transportation industry by putting user intent at the forefront. It offers users more control, customization, transparency, and efficiency compared to traditional taxis, ultimately providing a superior user experience that aligns with their specific goals and desires.

4.2 Web3 Example

Consider a scenario where an arbitrary user wishes to exchange USDC for ARB tokens. They have some USDC and ETH in Ethereum network. Here is the user journey:

Step 1: Connect Their EVM Wallet to the Crosschain Bridge 1.1. The user begins by opening their Ethereum-compatible wallet, such as MetaMask. 1.2. They ensure their wallet is connected to the Ethereum network. 1.3. They visit the crosschain bridge platform on their web browser, such as Stargate. 1.4. Clicking on the “Connect Wallet” button, they authorize the connection between their wallet and the bridge.

Step 2: Initiate the Transfer from Ethereum to Arbitrum 2.1. On the Stargate website, the user selects the “Transfer Assets” option. 2.2. They choose the amount of USDC and ETH they want to move from the Ethereum network to the Arbitrum network. 2.3. Confirming the transaction details and reviewing the associated transaction fees, they proceed. 2.4. Clicking “Transfer,” they start the process. 2.5. Approving the transaction in their wallet, they pay the required Ethereum gas fees.

Step 3: Wait for USDC to Arrive on Arbitrum 3.1. The user patiently waits for the transfer to be completed. This may take some time depending on network congestion. 3.2. Once the USDC arrives on the Arbitrum network, they receive a confirmation notification.

Step 4: Find a Liquid Exchange on the Arbitrum Network 4.1. The user navigates to a trading platform operating on the Arbitrum network, such as Uniswap on Arbitrum. 4.2. They connect their wallet to the Arbitrum network on the trading platform.

Step 5: Initiate the Exchange for ARB Tokens 5.1. On the exchange platform, they select the “Exchange” or “Swap” feature. 5.2. Specifying the amount of USDC they want to exchange for ARB tokens, they review the exchange rate and associated fees. 5.3. Confirming the transaction, they proceed.

Step 6: Confirm the Exchange Transaction 6.1. The user’s wallet prompts them to approve the exchange transaction on the Arbitrum network. 6.2. Confirming the transaction in their wallet, they move forward.

Step 7: Wait for Exchange Confirmation 7.1. The exchange transaction is processed and confirmed on the Arbitrum network. 7.2. The user receives a notification when the transaction is complete.

Step 8: Receive ARB Tokens 8.1. After the exchange is successful, their USDC is deducted from their wallet. 8.2. They receive the equivalent amount of ARB tokens in their wallet on the Arbitrum network.

The user journey outlined above can be quite lengthy. That’s why an intent-centric approach is crucial. In this system, users express their intentions or desired outcomes, like saying, “I want to exchange USDT for ARB tokens.” The system then takes care of all the underlying operations, automating the process to achieve the user’s goal. This approach makes blockchain technology more accessible and user-friendly, especially for those without prior experience in blockchain operations.

5. Why is There a Need for Intent-Centric Protocols?

Despite the promising growth and potential of Web3 technology, it faces significant challenges in achieving widespread adoption. The majority of internet users have yet to embrace blockchain technology, as evidenced by the fact that fewer than 100 million internet users possess blockchain wallets, which serve as the primary entry point for accessing Web3 networks and applications.

Several critical factors contribute to the difficulties Web3 encounters in gaining mainstream acceptance:

1. Complexity: Blockchain technology, particularly in its early stages, was inherently complex and challenging for the average internet user to grasp and utilize. Concepts such as private keys, public addresses, gas fees, and transaction confirmations can be intimidating and confusing for newcomers.

2. User Experience: Interacting with blockchain applications has often resulted in suboptimal user experiences. Slow transaction times, high fees during network congestion, and the necessity for specialized software wallets have hindered overall user satisfaction.

3. Lack of Familiar Applications: Most internet users are accustomed to the convenience of Web 2.0 applications, such as social media, e-commerce, and streaming services. The lack of widely adopted Web3 applications that offer similar familiarity and convenience has been a significant entry barrier.

4. Education Gap: There has been a shortage of educational resources and user-friendly interfaces to help users understand and navigate blockchain technology. Many potential users simply lack the knowledge and guidance required to get started with Web3.

5. Security Concerns: Security remains a major concern in the blockchain space. Users are apprehensive about the safety of their digital assets and the potential for scams or hacks, which can deter them from adopting blockchain technology.

6. Scalability Issues: Blockchain networks have faced scalability challenges, resulting in slower transaction times and higher fees during periods of high demand. This can discourage users from actively engaging with blockchain applications.

The challenge in achieving widespread Web3 adoption arises from the lack of user-friendly applications akin to those in Web2, alongside the inherent complexities and security concerns of blockchain technology. To tackle these challenges and make Web3 more accessible, intent-centric protocols are emerging, prioritizing user experience and security. These protocols bridge the gap between traditional internet users and blockchain technology, facilitating its mainstream adoption.

6. Some Current and Emerging Intent-Centric Approaches in Web3

Below are 10 examples among many others that have applied the intent-centric approach in Web3.

6.1. DEX Aggregator

Example: 1inch

Consider a scenario where a user wishes to buy or sell tokens without delving into the specifics of the transaction. A DEX aggregator, such as 1inch, which employs an intent-centric approach, will identify the best way to execute these transactions across various DEXes. It simplifies trading for both novice and experienced users.

6.2. Yield Aggregators

Example: Yearn Finance

Yield aggregators in DeFi aim to maximize returns on users’ assets. In this example, Yearn Finance have taken the optimal path to generate the highest yield for users. Intent-centric approaches simplify the execution of yield aggregation strategies for users, enhancing the efficiency of DeFi platforms and improving user returns.

6.3. Crosschain Swap

Example: Stargate

Products like Stargate facilitate cross-chain swaps, allowing users to seamlessly move assets between different blockchains. By simplifying this process, they reduce both the direct costs (transaction fees) and cognitive costs (the mental effort required to understand and execute cross-chain transactions) for users. It enhances interoperability and lowers the complexities and expenses tied to these transactions, thus opening new horizons for decentralized trading and asset management.

6.4. Telegram Trading Bots

Example: Unibot

Unibot is a popular Telegram bot designed for cryptocurrency trading and related activities. It allows users to trade cryptocurrencies directly within the Telegram messaging platform, offering features to facilitate efficient trading and risk management. Unibot’s main goal is to simplify cryptocurrency trading, making it user-friendly for Telegram users. Users are freed from the complexities of tasks like private key management, trade execution, or mirror sniper operations. Unibot enables users to interact with blockchain and cryptocurrency functions intuitively, much like using a messaging app.

6.5. DEX Innovation

Example: Uniswap

Uniswap V4 and Uniswap X, which bring new features to the DEX ecosystem. These features include things like limit orders (allowing users to specify prices at which they want to trade), dynamic fees (fees that adjust based on network conditions), and TWAMM (Time-Weighted Average Market Maker) strategies. This intent-centric evolution brings greater control and efficiency to DEX interactions, aligning with the user’s trading objectives and minimizing friction in decentralized trading.

6.6. Public Good Funding with Quadratic Funding

Example: Gitcoin

Gitcoin, which is a public good funding platform using a quadratic formula to allocate funds, adopts the intent-centric approach. Users express their intent by indicating which projects they want to fund. After the funding period concludes, all intents are collected, and tokens are distributed accordingly. This streamlined approach simplifies participation in public good funding, allowing users to focus on their philanthropic goals rather than navigating complex donation processes.

6.7. Account Abstraction Wallets

Example: Argent Wallet on zkSync

Account Abstraction Wallets exemplify the intent-centric ethos by simplifying the intricacies of blockchain interactions, notably those related to private key management. With these wallets, users are liberated from the need to grapple with the complexities of private keys. This intent-centric approach streamlines the user experience, significantly lowering the risk of asset loss due to key mismanagement.

6.8. Pre-approval Wallet

Example: Ethos Wallet in 8192 Game

The pre-approval wallet utilizes the Session Key feature to empower users to preset their wallet permissions for specific applications, eliminating the need for repetitive transaction signing. In the GameFi domain, these wallets must address key requirements like pre-approved gas management, ensuring seamless transaction processing, facilitating token trading within the wallet, and seamless smart contract interaction.

For instance, the game 8192 on the SUI blockchain adopts the intent-centric approach by leveraging the pre-approve feature within the Ethos Wallet (still on testnet). Pre-approval allows certain actions to be pre-authorized by users, reducing the incessant need for authorization prompts during gameplay. This creates a more seamless and enjoyable gaming experience, enabling players to concentrate on the game itself without unnecessary interruptions.

6.9. NFTs as Smart Contract Wallets

In the ERC-6551 standard, NFTs take on a dual role as smart contract wallets. For example, when a game account becomes an NFT compliant with ERC-6551, it securely stores both tokens and in-game item NFTs obtained during gameplay. In simpler terms, your in-game progress, items, and virtual currency become closely associated with a specific NFT representing your game account.

This innovative setup streamlines the trading of game accounts as they can be transacted like any other NFT. This functionality is particularly valuable in the GameFi domain, where players invest significant time and resources in their in-game accounts. It also fosters in-game economic ecosystems, enabling users to freely exchange assets and accounts. This approach aligns with the intent-centric nature of GameFi. It efficiently addresses players’ arbitrage intentions, facilitating the trading of in-game assets, accounts, or currencies to maximize their value. The ERC-6551 standard streamlines such trading, enhancing the economic aspects of GameFi through a consistent framework for asset exchange based on user intentions.

6.10. AI in Web3

Web3’s transformation centers on the “intent-centric” approach, focusing on understanding and executing user intentions. AI, particularly models fine-tuned with specific data, plays a crucial role in this evolution.

AI offers remarkable capabilities. It identifies user intent from text or voice commands with precision, thanks to Natural Language Processing (NLP). These AI chatbots excel at breaking down user intent into actionable tasks, whether it’s specific actions or transactions. AI takes intent execution to the next level by calculating the optimal path, considering available resources, network conditions, and protocol-specific requirements. It can automate these operations, reducing the need for manual intervention. AutoGPT, driven by OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, excels in translating goals into actions effortlessly, making it an ideal fit for intent-centric applications.

This shift requires careful consideration, with multiple layers, AI, and third-party components mediating between user intent and blockchain actions. Security is paramount due to multiple parties, demanding a robust punishment mechanism. The third-party AI layer must ensure secure transactions, with continuous security fortification. Upholding user rights is essential.

7. Conclusion

The intent-centric product philosophy is expected to hold great importance in shaping the future development of Web3 products. The variability of intent-centric protocols and infrastructure will largely depend on the specific verticals or sectors within the Web3 landscape, as each sector or application may have its own unique requirements. It is anticipated that this terminology will gain widespread acceptance in various Web3 protocols and projects in the years to come.

8. References

Boudjemaa, A. (2023, September 12). Why intent-centric is Blockchain’s next big thing. HackerNoon. https://hackernoon.com/why-intent-centric-is-blockchains-next-big-thing

Capital, N. (2023, September 12). Intent-centric protocol and infrastructure: In-depth exploration and future prospects. Medium. https://medium.com/@northbundcapital/intent-centric-protocol-and-infrastructure-in-depth-exploration-and-future-prospects-ca129a1d4453

Intent-based architectures and their risks. Paradigm. (2023, June 1). https://www.paradigm.xyz/2023/06/intents

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