Tools & Resources

How EOA Wallets Work (And Whether You Should Get One)

By The Fire Team
Should you get an EOA Wallet?
TL;DR: This article explores EOA (Externally Owned Account) wallets in the web3 space, differentiating them from smart contract wallets. EOA wallets are either hardware-based like Ledger and Trezor or software-based like MetaMask. They offer straightforward functionality, enabling users to send, receive tokens, and interact with smart contracts, but lack advanced features like autopilot transactions—which account-abstracted and MPC wallets can have.

How EOA Wallets Work (And Whether You Should Get One)

When you’re getting your first web3 wallet, you probably encounter a bunch of acronyms and technical terms. Along with MPC, ERC-4337 and others, you might find EOA. 

If you’re wondering what EOA stands for, what an EOA wallet is and if you should get one, read on.  

1. What is an EOA Wallet?

EOA stands for Externally Owned Account. The term is technical, but it simply means that an actor outside the blockchain (a person) owns the account. 

An EOA wallet is a piece of software (or hardware) which lets you access and control the account and its assets. This means you can connect to dApps, interact with smart contract and do a million other things on your web3 journey.

EOA wallets are straightforward: They send and receive tokens and interact with smart contracts, but can’t do things on autopilot. That means any interaction has to be approved by you. That gives you more control, but also limits the functionality. In contrast, a smart contract wallet with account abstraction gains a variety of features. 

2. EOA Wallet Examples

Most wallets on the market right now are EOA wallets. While there are hundreds of wallet providers (including the Fire Wallet), there are two main types of wallets

Hardware Wallets (Cold Wallets)

Examples: Ledger, Trezor

  • These are physical devices that store your keys offline. Because each transaction requires approval of the physical device, they’re a safe option in the realm of EOA wallets (unless you compromise your seed phrase).

Software Wallets (Hot Wallets)

Examples: MetaMask, Fire

  • These are applications or browser extensions where you have quick and convenient access to your assets whenever you need them. 

Both hot wallets and cold wallets can be mobile apps as well: Ledger hardware wallets have a mobile app, as do software wallets like MetaMask and Rainbow. 

EOA Wallets vs. Smart Contract Wallets

We’ve explained EOA vs. smart contract accounts at length here, but the main difference is that smart contract wallets can execute certain functions (like regular transfers) on autopilot and unlocks new features like spending limits and batch transactions. 

MPC wallets like the Fire Wallet can replicate some of these UX improvements while being more compatible with existing web3 apps.

While EOA and smart contract accounts are the main types of accounts in web3, some technologies mimic features of smart contract accounts—social recovery wallets make it easier to regain access to your wallet while MPC wallets simplify private key storage. 

If you’re exploring Ethereum, check out Fire!

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To Summarize

EOA wallets are a fundamental part of the web3 ecosystem, offering a straightforward way to manage digital assets. While they lack the automated features of smart contract wallets, they provide greater user control over transactions. Choosing between an EOA and a smart contract wallet ultimately depends on your needs—whether you value simplicity and direct control or seek advanced features. Both types have their merits, and your choice will shape your web3 experience.