#307: Solana introduces Actions and Blinks

🌐 The next step in bringing onchain to everywhere on the Internet

Earlier today the Solana Foundation introduced Actions and Blinks, an exciting feature that allows users to transact onchain anywhere online. The announcement video that the team posted shows the feature in action and the ways blinks (blockchain links) can be used.

TLDR on Actions and Blinks

  • Actions were formerly known as Solana Pay transactions. The broader ‘Actions’ term expands the initial payment use case that expands to other actions such as minting, swapping, voting, and more.

  • Blinks (blockchain links) turn Actions into shareable, metadata-rich links. Clients (the user-facing portion of an app) can display additional capabilities for the user to interact with.

  • Actions and blinks can be distributed through a variety of formats: link, QR code, push notification, messaging app, etc.

  • The integration was co-developed by Dialect Labs, a company that has built products focused on messaging, notifications, and in-app actions

If you want to learn more, check out the website and developer docs.

No better way to experience the new feature than to check out live examples! If you’re interested in checking them out, you need to have the Phantom or Backpack extension installed on desktop.

Phantom (crypto wallet) shares a live example of a blink letting users purchase Bonk with SOL.

Jupiter (crypto exchange) also shared a live example of a blink where users could purchase the Jupiter token with SOL.

The initial examples are not only cool — they have broader and exciting implications for what’s to come.

Do you use Chrome extensions? If so, ‘extend’ this article to a friend by sharing it, or subscribe!

Making onchain easier: the good and the bad

The benefits of Actions and blinks are clear. They make onchain transactions easier to conduct, widen the top of the funnel for awareness and acquisition, and they’re flexible enough to be used in a variety of apps and platforms like X, Discord, and messaging apps.

Less clicks = more convenience = higher likelihood to take action or engage

There could be a future where:

  • Projects launch their mint across established marketplaces like Opensea or Magic Eden, and other platforms like Discord, Telegram, and X. Or maybe only the latter.

  • Projects and their respective community members can create new engagement models around participation, gamification, and referrals

  • New entrants to crypto and web3 will have their first onchain onboarding experience through a blink with a simple friendly tutorial module on a trusted app instead of a crypto wallet extension.

On the other hand, there are valid concerns with this new feature, especially on platforms like X. The biggest concern is blinks will make scams even more prevalent than they already are. Imagine a world where celebrities can launch memecoins in a few clicks and now promote them with blinks 😰 (PS: The celebcoin trend isn’t stopping: Jason Derulo, Travis Barker, and 50 Cent have recently launched their own token, sigh).

Unsurprisingly and fortunately, Solana is aware of the potential risks and abuse so they have implemented a few safeguards during the initial rollout:

With great power comes great responsibility, and fortunately Solana understands that as exciting Actions and blinks are for mainstream adoption, they are ripe for abuse and it’s better to have a slower rollout.

Wait a second, this reminds me of…

Frames on Farcaster!

Technical nuances aside (I'm not qualified to go through them anyway), we have two distinct approaches with this modern ‘widget’ feature that have the common goal of making onchain interactions more convenient and easier to use.

Depth vs. breadth

Although it feels like a lifetime ago, Frames only launched ~5 months ago. Fast forward to today, Frames usage continues to grow and they even have their own trending tab, embedding itself as a core part of the Farcaster ecosystem.

On the other hand Actions and blinks have opted for a larger surface area, casting a wider net across channels for discoverability, shareability, and virality. Although there has been potential concern around clients removing support for blinks, the enhanced UI elements come from the Chrome extension themselves, making this a gamechanger.

TLDR: X can’t ‘remove’ blinks because the UI changes are based on the Chrome extension 🤯

Who can deploy

Frames are more or less permissionless, as anyone can create and post Frames. On the other hand, Actions and blinks have a registry process to ensure safety for users. Despite the slow rollout, I imagine the Solana developer community is excitedly tinkering behind the scenes, similar to how the Farcaster community experimented with Frames when it launched in January.

Solana and Dialect are also actively providing grants for builders creating Actions and blink integrations.

Core contributors and ecosystem growth

Farcaster Frames was developed by the Farcaster team and has since grown into a larger community effort.

With Actions and blinks, Solana Foundation has more of a hands-on approach from development to announcement (the Saga phone is another example of this approach). Every ecosystem and foundation has its own approach to ecosystem growth. This launch caught the attention of builders in the Ethereum ecosystem which raises questions around the differing mindsets and coordination.

Foundation support or not, this will be a development that I believe will be quickly emulated by other ecosystems. The distribution benefits are undoubtedly large, and the upper bound of the benefits is unknown.

On the other hand, clients are in an interesting position. They’re unable to ‘remove’ blinks on desktop because they’re based on the installed Chrome extensions. Will any of them consider collaborating with Solana to create an even more positive user experience? And if so, how?

Lastly and probably most importantly, consumers are being introduced to a new set of interaction-based experiences that are fresh, convenient, and easy to use. The bar is rapidly rising for what a ‘good’ onchain consumer experience looks like, and it’s been long overdue.

Other interesting things

See you Thursday!

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