I know the logic of using an escrow contract in which 2 or more users send their wagered ETH to a smart contract acting as escrow proxy, and then after some decision contract executes we release the funds according to that decision logic.

But what I want to know is if there's any way of not transferring any ETH to the escrow contract, but to actually lock the particular amount directly inside the user's wallet? Let's say user A bids 1 ETH so then the smart contract gains access to their wallet only over said amount and locks it without any transfer of the bid amount.

For example, user A could execute this smart contract by sending a tremendously small amount of WEI to it only to send a message stating the bid amount. Then the smart contract gains access to lock the bid amount from the user's message, directly inside the user's wallet. Is this possible?

  • It is not possible. Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 7:12
  • Out of curiosity - what is behind your thinking? Ethereum has the best smart contract system in the world - why you specifically would want to avoid using it? Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 7:13
  • @MikkoOhtamaa the idea is not to avoid using smart contracts, on the contrary. But using smart contracts as proxy escrow accounts that are under the control of a commercial entity (or any third-party) can raise some legal issues that are hard to overcome. In such cases, it might be a clever idea to use the concept of temporary hold on user assets, instead of transferring and locking them in an escrow that is under jurisdictional control of another legal entity.
    – Pobosa A
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 18:25
  • I am an expert on the field and I do not think in any legal system the technical form of temporary holding makes a difference: whether you use smart contract or not. As long as user is in the possession of the assets and they are if they and they only claim back assets from the trustless escrow smart contract. So, there are no such cases as you describe. Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 8:24
  • @Mikko let's please end this debacle, as it's clear to me you don't show the legal understanding of some already existing concepts, that need to be transposed to the crypto space, if and only if the crypto space wants to be allowed to ever become mainstream.
    – Pobosa A
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


No, I don't know how you imagined this, but as long as a user has

  • the private key
  • the ETH still on the account

Nothing can stop him from spending his ETH. So whatever you do, locking ETH can only happen if ETH is transferred, be it to an escrow contract or maybe an off-chain multisig EOA.

  • The idea isn't to get ahold of the user wallet, but to lock only a particular amount that the user expressly agreed to. Don't need their private key. In case a particular condition is met, the specific ETH can be either moved or unlocked.
    – Pobosa A
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 18:22

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