Executing Contract callData

Learn the foundational concepts of how instructions are given to a ERC-4337 smart contract wallet through UserOperation callData.

A UserOperation has a field called callData. This is sent to the sender Smart Account during the execution phase in order to carry out the user's desired intent.

Example callData

// Get account and contract ABIs
const accountABI = ["function execute(address to, uint256 value, bytes data)"];
const contractABI = ["function transfer(address to, uint amount) returns (bool)"];

// Create ethers contract interface
const account = new ethers.utils.Interface(accountABI);
const contract = new ethers.utils.Interface(contractABI);

const callData = account.encodeFunctionData("execute", [
  contract.encodeFunctionData("transfer", [accountAddress, amount]),

See also

An overview of transaction data

When a regular transaction is made in an EVM network it will usually consist of a to, value, and optional data field.

Take the simplest transaction of sending 1 ETH (the native token) from account A to account B. The transaction will have the following information:

  • To: address of account B
  • Value: 1 ETH
  • Data: null

Now let's say account A wants to send account B 100 USDC (an ERC-20 token). All ERC-20 tokens are just smart contracts that track address balances in it's own state. So the transaction will look like this:

  • To: address of USDC smart contract
  • Value: 0 ETH
  • Data: Instructions to transfer 100 USDC from account A to account B

So now we can see that data is how we send instructions to a smart contract. The callData in an ERC-4337 UserOperation is no different. It is the instructions given to the sender smart contract address.

Sending instructions to an ERC-4337 account

The above overview is a high level take of the data field, but what does it look like in practice? In order to start sending generic instructions to an ERC-4337 account, you'll need to implement an interface like this on the smart contract:

interface ExecutableAccount {
  function execute(
    address to,
    uint256 value,
    bytes calldata data
  ) external;

With this function available the smart contract can mimic a regular transaction when we call execute with to, value, and data as arguments. The data that is required to call execute is what we would use as the callData field in a UserOperation.

Encoding callData with ethers.js

Fortunately, we have great tools at our disposal to abstract the encoding process using ethers.js. The only thing we require is a reference to the contract's Application Binary Interface (ABI). This gives ethers.js the information needed for encoding and decoding.

With ethers.js you can use either a human-readable ABI or a solidity JSON ABI. The latter can be exported by the Solidity compiler.


Need more information on ABIs?

The exact details to encode function data is outside the scope of this overview. However, you can read more about interacting with contracts here.

Using the account interface above and an ERC-20 token, a human-readable ABI would look like this:

const accountABI = ["function execute(address to, uint256 value, bytes data)"];

// An ABI can be fragments and does not have to include the entire interface.
// As long as it includes the parts we want to use.
const partialERC20TokenABI = [
  "function transfer(address to, uint amount) returns (bool)",

With these two ABIs we can encode a callData for our UserOperation that sends an amount of USDC to another account's address:

const account = new ethers.utils.Interface(accountABI);
const erc20Token = new ethers.utils.Interface(partialERC20TokenABI);

op.callData = account.encodeFunctionData("execute", [
  erc20Token.encodeFunctionData("transfer", [accountAddress, amount]),


Why are there two ABIs?

In the above example our smart contract account is required to interact with the USDC smart contract. Which is why we need to encode more data within the callData.

If we only wanted to send an amount of ETH (the native token) to another account's address, the code would look like this:

const account = new ethers.utils.Interface(accountABI);

op.callData = account.encodeFunctionData("execute", [accountAddress, amount]);

Just like the simplest regular transaction, there is no data field. Which means we don't need to encode any data within the userOp's callData.


ERC-4337 accounts can call any smart contract function

In this guide we used the example of calling the function execute. However there is no reason why the smart contract account couldn't also have other functions that the callData could be encoded to run.