Layer 2 roll-ups hold promise to scale Ethereum, making transactions much cheaper and faster, and enabling entirely new classes of applications, without compromising on security.
But today there’s a significant usability hurdle with getting funds onto an L2. Users first need to “bridge” them from Ethereum, and bridging offers a poor UX:
- It is slow. Users are used to transactions confirming in a few minutes on L1, bridging can take over 20 minutes.
- It is expensive. Bridging costs around 150k gas, which can get expensive with L1 congestion.
- It requires switching apps. You need to switch to an external bridging app to migrate your funds.
- It requires switching networks. You need to switch networks in your wallet, which will now show completely different balances and transaction history for the L2.
A common critique of L2s is that this friction is actually a significant hurdle, and that users will “drop off” before successfully bridging funds, and therefore fail to actually get to use any apps on L2.
Bridging is an ecosystem-wide problem that will get solved over time by wallets and exchanges. But in the meantime, can we catalyze L2 adoption by using NFTs in creative ways to make bridging more fun and aesthetically pleasing?
Looking at gift cards for inspiration
In the real world, gift cards represent a significant market and are a popular way to gift someone cash to spend at their favorite retailer or online platform.
Gift cards are a classic way to “bridge” funds into another commerce ecosystem. Even more interestingly, gift cards are also an artistic canvas. They follow a standard format (credit card size) and can be customized with various graphics.
Retailers commonly brand gift cards with mascots like Mickey Mouse or Peanuts, and release them as limited editions to make them collectible. It’s not surprising to hear that a collector culture exists around gift cards:
The largest gift card collection in the world, as of 2021, belonged to Canadian-American brothers Aaron and David Miller of Scarsdale, New York. By 2013, the brothers had amassed an estimated 3,125 different cards.
We all know an expressive format for digital collectibles in web3—NFTs! NFTs can be programmed to interact with any smart contract, including L2 bridging contracts.
L2 Bridge Pass NFTs
What if we took the gift card metaphor to make collectible NFT editions that, when minted, automatically bridge funds to an L2?
Instead of bridging to L2 through a boring “swap” UX, what if users could buy a cool looking NFT! Under the hood, the purchaser receives the collectible NFT on L1, while the funds are bridged and made available on L2.
Bridge Pass creators can play with two variables to make minting collectible, social, and fun:
- Aesthetics. A Bridge Pass can be created in collaboration with an NFT artist or can reuse existing CC0 art from a PFP project.
- Scarcity. Bridge Passes can be released in limited editions to make collecting them more desirable.
Imagine an “Optimism Early Adopter” Bridge Pass that is released in collaboration with an artist like pplpleasr—priced at 1 ETH with a limited edition of 100. A portion of the proceeds could go to the artist or to fund public goods. A Bridge Pass can also be gifted to a friend to help onboard them onto L2.
CC0 pfp NFTs provide an amazing library of art that can be remixed without permission into Bridge Passes. Imagine a “Nouns L2 Pioneer” Bridge Pass, using openly licensed art from the Nouns project.
A custom gallery, something like bridgepass.com, can be created to showcase Bridge Passes by different artists for different L2s. There can even be new drops each week, as old drops sell out, to keep the excitement going in perpetuity.
All scaling solutions present tradeoffs. L2s are a really promising way to take the Ethereum ecosystem to the next level. As an ecosystem, we need to get creative to grow adoption and I think Bridge Pass NFTs with custom art could be one fun approach.
Special thanks to Julian for imagining and designing what Bridge Passes could look like. We are hiring at Mirror.