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Last updated: Aug 31, 2023
Gnosis Safe is a smart contract-based crypto wallet provider. Initially developed by Gnosis Ltd – a company registered in Gibraltar; the project later established and became controlled by a DAO (GnosisDAO). Furthermore, after the xDAI and GnosisDAO communities decided to merge their ecosystems and rebrand the xDAI blockchain to Gnosis Chain, Gnosis Safe was renamed to Safe.
Gnosis Ltd was founded in 2015 by Martin Köppelmann and Steven George, focusing on building a prediction markets platform, however, in the process of creating it the Gnosis team reckoned it also needed to build the infrastructure required to support it. Thus, Gnosis Safe, Gnosis Protocol, Conditional Tokens, Gnosis Auction, and Zodiac were created. Gnosis Safe is probably the most widely implemented spin-off, from the project’s product suite in the crypto industry as it introduced the novel multi-signature (multisig) and programmable account concepts. Nowadays, nearly every DAO’s backbone is a Safe multisig account.
At its core, Gnosis Safe is a multi-signature smart contract wallet through which users can predefine a list of accounts acting as owners, or signers, of the Safe account. Each Safe account can be configured to have a threshold of owner accounts that need to have signed (approved) a transaction before it can be executed.
The platform supports various types of signatures, all of which are combined into a string of data referred to as “bytes” and later transmitted to the smart contract of the wallet account before a transaction can be executed. Each signature has a constant length of 65 bytes, but if needed - more data can be appended to the end of the constant data of all signatures. Safe supported signature types include ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) – a signature type based on the Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) using elliptic-curve cryptography; eth_sign – an open-ended signing method allowing signing an arbitrary hash, which some consider holding dangerous phishing risks; the EIP-1271 contract signature method, which is a standard way for smart contracts to verify the validity of signatures when an account is controlled by a smart contract; and finally – Pre-validated Signatures.
Safe also supports the addition of various modular functionalities to the Safe core smart contracts, these could include daily spending allowances; a preset amount of funds that can be spent without the need for approval from all, or the minimum threshold of owner accounts; standing orders to be performed on a recurring set date; and many others. When implementing or removing an additional module to a Safe account, the action needs to be approved by all owners of the Safe account.
Since the introduction of Safe v1.3.0, Safe supports the implementation of transaction guards, which are often used on top of the x-out-of-y scheme (e.g., 2-out-of-3, 3-out-of-5 multi-sig accounts) for further security. Transaction guards can make checks before and after transactions.
The Gnosis Safe wallet contracts can be interacted with through various SDKs, from various platforms to provide for different use cases that may arise. Moreover, Safe apps can be integrated through the Safe interface dApp. The Safe team has also provided developers with a Safe Core SDK TypeScript library to facilitate the interaction with Safe smart contracts and services. There is also a Contract Proxy Kit (CPK) providing a way to create Safe accounts that can be leveraged in dApps.
There are various Gnosis Safe apps hosted on public repositories that can be used for reference, however, these apps are not owned, controlled, maintained, or audited by the Gnosis Safe team. The Safe community has developed and provided numerous tools, frameworks, and extensions that can be used freely by developers.
Gas fees Gnosis Safe transactions accrue can be paid in various ERC-20 tokens thanks to a transaction relay service accepting those tokens and submitting the transactions to the blockchain, paying the gas fees in any required denomination.
The SAFE token was introduced with the proposal to spin-off Gnosis Safe from Gnosis and rebrand the project to Safe. The proposal, referred to as GIP-29 on the Gnosis forum, states that the introduction of the token aims to establish Safe as a community-owned project. Therefore, the main utility of SAFE is governance of the project by allowing its holders to submit Safe Deployments such as core smart contract deployments over various networks, and curation of a so-called “trusted list” that includes Tokens lists, dApps lists, and Safe modules lists. The token is also planned to be used in the decentralization of hosting of the Safe frontend through the safe.eth domain, and decentralized hosting of various governance frontends.
The total supply of SAFE at genesis is one billion tokens, minted by the Safe Foundation (a non-profit organization established in Switzerland to oversee the growth of the Safe ecosystem). SAFE is distributed as follows: 15% are reserved for current and future core contributor teams, 15% are allocated to the Safe Foundation – 7% are reserved for grants and a reserve fund while the other 8% are saved for strategic fundraisers, 5% were airdropped to the community half of which are vested, another 5% were airdropped to former Gnosis Safe users, half of which are also vested. The remaining 60% are allocated to community treasuries – 40% to the SafeDAO Treasury, 15% for the GnosisDAO Treasury, and 5% for a joint Gnosis and SAFE Treasury.
Gnosis Safe audits include multiple audits from independent security researchers and security firms. The latest one covers Gnosis Safe v 1.3.0, it was done by G0 Group, and didn’t discover any serious issues.
The Gnosis Safe team is led by Richard Meissner, Tobias Schubotz, Lukas Schor, and Christoph Simmchen. Co-Founder Richard Meissner currently serves as Technical Lead of the project, his former experience includes holding the same position at Gnosis, Android Lead at Dubsmash, and a software engineer position at Mobile.de. Tobias Schubotz, another of the project’s co-founders, is currently responsible for Safe’s Product and Operations, and holds a Managing Director position at Core Contributors GmbH. His former experience includes being Gnosis’ Product Manager, the same position at Dubsmash, and numerous software engineer positions at various companies. Lukas Schor, also a co-founder of Gnosis Safe, is responsible for the development of the project’s Ecosystem. His former work experience includes a Project Lead position at Gnosis, Advisor at 1Konto and CCET, Marketing Manager at The Argon Group, Head of Investor Experience at Tech Open Air, Product Manager at Jodel, and being part of the Global Product Platform Management team, more precise Project Lead, at Bosch Switzerland. Christoph Simmchen, the final co-founder of Gnosis Safe, has prior work experience as Legal Counsel at Gnosis, however, his position at Gnosis Safe is Governance and Operations.
Gnosis is running a bug bounty program whose rewards start at $10,000 and can go up to $1,000,000. All rewards are paid in ETH. So far, there have been three submissions to the program, all of which were considered to be low or medium, the issues were resolved by the Gnosis Safe team and the bounties were paid to the people who submitted the issues. Detailed info on these issues can be found on the bug bounty page of the project.
In the middle of July 2022, Gnosis Safe held a successful fundraiser amounting to $100 million in a funding round led by venture capital firm 1kx. Following the event, the project was rebranded to Safe. Besides 1kx, there were 60 investors including Tiger Global, Kraken Ventures, Digital Currency Group, Blockchain Capital, Coinbase Ventures, and various industry veterans such as Hasu from Flashbots and Lefteris Karapetsas from Rotki.
Recently, Gnosis Safe has decided to award a grant to Algovera to develop a DAO framework for decentralized AI teams after a governance vote with only 58.63% votes in favor of it. The platform also funded Yubiai, a marketplace developed by the ProofOfHumanity community, and sponsored Prode Markets – a decentralized betting platform, following other governance votes.
There is no definitive roadmap Gnosis Safe is following at the moment, all upcoming features and proposals for such, along with the progress of each of them can be viewed on the governance forum of the project.