Crypto was created as an independent alternative to centralized money systems: blockchain ensures independent functioning, while crypto wallets, being a client-side software, allow anyone anywhere in the world connect to it.
Having a wallet running directly on user’s device is a great way of ensuring its independence, but as recently showed by MetaMask, this system has a weak link, which is an endpoint service provider that wallets use to get information on and off of blockchains.
Metamask uses Infura’s services to get this done. Infura is a centralized entity incorporated in the US, which means that it must abide by the US regulations in the matters of sanctions.
This week Venezuelan users of Metamask found themselves unable to use the wallet for several hours. The issue was caused by Infura, which mistakenly included Venezuela into its geoblocking settings.
Venezuelan access has been corrected since, but the countries and regions fully covered by the US sanctions (Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, and the Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine) are being blocked.
Metamask relies on Infura by default, but assures that this setting can be modified manually to a custom provider. Still, discovering a centralized bottleneck in a decentralized wallet’s functioning did not sit well with the crypto community.
From now the definition of a truly decentralized wallet might be taking into account one more factor.