Hello everyone. I wanted to open up a conversation regarding Zondax and their Ledger app integration with parachains in the ecosystem.
Background and Motivation
As many parachains are aware by now, around May of this year, Zondax and Web3 Foundation struck a deal to provide parachain projects with free Ledger app support for basic pallets (source).
However, the article and announcement neglect to mention that this package will only support the balance pallet, which is insufficient for most parachains as we need at least the standard plan to make the app usable with most dApps. Custom solutions for adding more frame pallets or custom pallets.
Furthermore, they will only offer 3 months of free support (which covers app update when the extrinsic interface changes) in a ecosystem that is growing and changing everyday.
I am not saying that their plans are completely unreasonable and we shouldn’t use them because they are a very capable team who deserves the attention. But when we consider that most parachain projects are relatively small companies or small networks (and in case of Astar Fondation, a team of builders without any other source of income outside of our network), I feel like the announcement of the partnership with the Web3 Foundation did not result in anything practical outside of transferring balance (and God know what would happen after three months).
What is the problem?
I believe that for most parachains, the standard plan is not enough (in the case of Astar, we don’t use the proxy pallet and the staking pallet) to create something usable and representative of the parachain’s value proposition. And considering that most Substrate-based chains are using a shared pallet in the Substrate frame, having the parachains pay separately to support the same pallet to the same organization seems wrong. I am also unhappy with having the parachain responsible for paying the full support fee for commonly used pallets when upgrades are inevitable, and the chain is always evolving. Another issue is when we have to add the contract pallet support for the Ledger app as the Ledger app UI rendering is done on an interface basis (similar to how EVM signatures work on Ledger for ERC20 transfers).
Of course, it doesn’t make sense for the parachain not to pay anything to Zondax, but having the parachains for everything separately for the same feature doesn’t seem right to me. Especially when the burden of UX (Ledger support to the dApp front-end and gracefully fail unsupported pallets) and mass adoption for Polkadot ecosystem projects rely on the hands of the parachains.
I am not a fan of businesses treating small sovereign layer 1 blockchains like parachains as business clients to perform a service instead of an open platform that any projects can build on or use. This is not the Web3 way.
I feel that it’s not far-fetched to have the Polkadot’s (or Kusama’s) treasury to pay the development fee for common standard pallets (frame) or the maintenance fee to Zondax. This would encourage more projects to add Ledger support, leading to more adoption from new users, not to mention the added security for key management.
We were presented with a hefty amount per year for the full integration with a couple of custom pallets and the contract pallet support. This is impossible for us to support in the long run as a small team, and I don’t know how we can continue to support once we become a DAO.
I want to start the discussion by asking parachain projects who are working with Zondax for their Ledger app and what your thoughts are.
I will not claim that my proposal is the only way to solve this issue, or even if the problem I raised is an actual problem for others. But I think it’s worth talking about it.