On-chain subscriptions don’t work

Gaurang (GT) Torvekar
3 min readNov 21, 2023


Navigating the Complexities and Innovations in Ethereum’s Quest for Decentralized Subscription Models

On-chain subscriptions have been a holy grail of many Solidity developers, promising fully on-chain and transparent ways to realise several web3 use cases. However, implementing on-chain subscriptions in reality poses notable challenges, mainly due to blockchain technology’s inherent limitations.

Introduction to On-Chain Subscriptions

Using on-chain subscriptions, users can subscribe to services directly on the blockchain. This ensures transparency and security, as all transactions and agreements are permanently recorded on the blockchain and are publicly verifiable. In Ethereum’s context, these subscriptions would be managed via smart contracts, programs with the subscription logic directly written into code.

Use Cases of On-Chain Subscriptions

  1. Web3 Gaming: On-chain subscriptions can revolutionize how players access and interact with games in the gaming sector. Players could subscribe to games or in-game services, receiving regular updates or exclusive content directly through blockchain transactions. This would also allow for a more transparent and fair revenue distribution among developers and content creators.
  2. Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Dollar-Cost Averaging (DCA): In DeFi, on-chain subscriptions can facilitate automated investment strategies like DCA, where investors periodically purchase assets. Smart contracts could automate these purchases, executing transactions at set intervals, simplifying the investment process, and potentially reducing emotional decision-making.
  3. Content Platforms and Creators: Blockchain-based subscriptions can empower content creators, allowing them to receive direct support from their audience. Fans could subscribe to receive exclusive content, updates, or experiences with the assurance that their support directly reaches the creator without intermediaries.
  4. Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS providers can utilize on-chain subscriptions to offer their services in a more transparent and efficient manner. Customers can subscribe to software tools or platforms, with the blockchain managing the billing and access control.

Challenges for Solidity Developers

  1. Push vs. Pull Transaction Limitation: The primary challenge in implementing on-chain subscriptions is the push-based nature of blockchain transactions. Unlike traditional banking’s pull-based subscription models, Ethereum operates on a push model, where the wallet owner initiates transactions, complicating the creation of a pull-based mechanism.
  2. Gas Fees and Transaction Costs: Fluctuating and often high transaction costs (gas fees) on Ethereum pose another challenge. Managing these costs for a subscription model involving regular transactions is crucial but challenging.
  3. Smart Contract Complexity and Security: Developing smart contracts for on-chain subscriptions requires handling various scenarios like cancellations, payment failures, and renewals. The immutable nature of Ethereum’s smart contracts adds a layer of complexity, necessitating robust security measures.
  4. User Experience and Adoption: On-chain subscriptions must offer a user-friendly experience to gain widespread adoption. This includes seamless wallet integration, intuitive interfaces, and clear subscription management instructions. Overcoming public apprehension towards blockchain-based services is also crucial.


The idea of on-chain subscriptions is promising, offering transparency and security advantages. However, currently, there is no tangible and easy way for Solidity developers to make this concept a practical reality. Innovative solutions need to address the push transaction limitation, manage gas fees, ensure smart contract security, and improve user experience. With the evolution of the Ethereum ecosystem, especially the burgeoning account abstraction techniques, these challenges could be surmounted, heralding a new era of blockchain-based subscription services.

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