How Do Maximal Extractable Values (MEVs) Affect Various Blockchain Protocols? – Cryptopolitan

Maximal Extractable Values (MEVs) have intrigued blockchain experts and enthusiasts. These seemingly elusive occurrences within blockchain networks have garnered significant attention because of their influence on network security, user behavior, and transaction efficiency. The purpose of this Cryptopolitan guide is to illuminate the complexities of MEVs, exploring their origin, development, and impact on various blockchain protocols.

The MEV Genesis

The concept of MEVs first came to light in a pivotal research paper published in 2016 by Phil Daian and his esteemed colleagues. This paper not only introduced the term “Maximal Extractable Values” but also provided a thorough analysis of its implications and effects on various blockchain networks. It became evident that MEVs were not exclusive to any specific blockchain protocol but could be found across a wide range of networks, including both Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS) systems.

As the blockchain landscape continued to evolve and expand, so did the nature of MEVs. New strategies and tactics emerged, empowering network participants to extract additional value from transactions. In response to these developments, the blockchain community dedicated time and resources to create tools and platforms aimed at studying, understanding, and mitigating the impact of MEVs.

This ongoing evolution of MEVs has led to the discovery of various types and forms, each with its unique characteristics and effects on the blockchain ecosystem. Recognizing MEVs and their transforming nature is key.

In their nascent stages, MEVs played a significant role in shaping the way blockchain networks functioned and how participants interacted with them. The existence of MEVs shed light on potential vulnerabilities in network security, prompting the development of robust protective measures and protocol-level improvements. Furthermore, the ongoing study of MEVs has not only revealed opportunities for future research but also led to the proposal of potential solutions aimed at minimizing their impact on blockchain networks.

Understanding MEVs

MEVs represent the additional value that can be extracted by network participants, such as miners or validators, by strategically ordering, including, or omitting transactions within a block. MEVs exploit the inherent competition within decentralized networks, enabling certain actors to gain an advantage and profit from manipulating transactions or executing trades ahead of other users.

MEVs can manifest in various forms, depending on their impact on the network and its participants. They can be broadly categorized into three types:

  • Positive MEVs: These involve actions that benefit both the extracting participant and the overall network. Examples include arbitrage opportunities and liquidating undercollateralized positions, which stabilize prices and ensure the health of the ecosystem.
  • Negative MEVs: Actions that harm the network or other participants while benefiting the extracting party fall under this category. Examples include front-running, where a participant places their transaction ahead of another user’s transaction, and sandwich attacks, where transactions are manipulated to profit at the expense of other users.
  • Neutral MEVs: These are instances where value extraction neither benefits nor harms the overall network, but redistributes value among participants.

To identify and analyze MEVs, it is crucial to recognize their key components. They are:

  • Certain transaction orders present profitable opportunities for MEV.
  • Transaction inclusion or omission: Deciding which transactions to include or exclude in a block can enable MEV extraction. For instance, a miner may prioritize transactions with higher fees, or a validator may choose to exclude a competing transaction to gain an advantage.
  • Block production: As miners or validators are responsible for creating new blocks, they possess the power to manipulate transactions within those blocks, opening up possibilities for MEV extraction.

MEVs and Blockchain Protocols

The impact of Maximal Extractable Values (MEVs) is not confined to a single blockchain protocol; rather, it spans across various networks, influencing their dynamics and behavior. MEVs have distinct implications for different blockchain protocols:

  1. Proof of Work (PoW): In PoW systems, such as Bitcoin, miners compete to solve complex mathematical problems, with the first to succeed being rewarded with new coins and transaction fees. Here, MEVs emerge as miners strategically order, include, or omit transactions to maximize their profits, potentially at the expense of other network participants.
  2. Proof of Stake (PoS): In PoS networks, such as Ethereum 2.0, validators are chosen to create new blocks randomly. While PoS reduces the energy consumption associated with PoW, it also presents unique MEV challenges. Validators, similar to miners, have the ability to manipulate transactions within blocks, creating opportunities for value extraction.

While MEVs are most commonly associated with Ethereum due to its smart contract functionality and diverse ecosystem, they can also be found in other major blockchain networks.

Strategies, Tactics, and Techniques for MEV Extraction

The complex landscape of Maximal Extractable Values (MEVs) is characterized by an array of strategies, tactics, and techniques that network participants employ to maximize value extraction.


Front-running is a common tactic in which a participant, such as a miner or a validator, gains knowledge of an impending transaction and then places their transaction ahead of it in the order. This allows the front-runner to capitalize on price movements or other market effects resulting from the original transaction, potentially at the expense of the user whose transaction was preempted.

Sandwich attacks

A sandwich attack involves a participant strategically placing transactions both before and after a target user’s transaction within a block. By doing so, the attacker can profit from the price impact of the target transaction, effectively “sandwiching” the user’s transaction between their own to extract value.

Transaction censorship

In this technique, a miner or validator selectively omits specific transactions from a block, potentially to benefit from the absence of competing transactions. This can lead to delayed transaction confirmation or even force users to pay higher fees to ensure inclusion in a block.

Arbitrage opportunities

MEVs can also emerge from arbitrage opportunities, where network participants exploit price discrepancies across different platforms or tokens. By executing a series of well-timed trades, they can capitalize on these price differences and extract value from the market.


Another source of MEV arises from liquidating undercollateralized positions in decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms. When users fail to maintain sufficient collateral, their positions may be liquidated, often at a discount, presenting an opportunity for network participants to extract value while stabilizing the ecosystem.

Tackling MEV: Solutions and Innovations

The ever-present challenge of MEVs has stimulated a wave of innovation, with the blockchain community striving to develop solutions that mitigate their impact and enhance network stability.

Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs)

One notable example of an MEV mitigation effort is Ethereum’s EIP-1559, which introduces a base fee mechanism designed to make transaction fees more predictable and decrease the incentive for validators to manipulate transactions. This groundbreaking proposal aims to improve the overall user experience and reduce the impact of MEVs on the Ethereum network, which has transitioned to the Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism.

Flashbots and MEV-Geth

Flashbots is a research and development organization focused on addressing the negative externalities of MEVs. They have developed MEV-Geth, a modified Ethereum client that allows miners and validators to accept “bundles” of transactions directly from users, bypassing the traditional transaction pool. This approach aims to create a more transparent and efficient market for MEVs while reducing network congestion and transaction fee volatility.

Layer 2 scaling solutions

Layer 2 scaling solutions, such as Optimistic Rollups and zk-Rollups, hold the potential to significantly reduce MEVs by moving transactions off the main blockchain and onto a secondary layer. These solutions increase transaction throughput and minimize the opportunities for network participants to extract value through transaction manipulation.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) for MEV management

Some projects are exploring the creation of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) to manage MEVs collectively. These DAOs aim to redistribute the extracted value among network participants, mitigating the negative impact of MEVs on individual users and fostering a more equitable ecosystem.

MEV analytics and monitoring tools

Advanced analytics and monitoring tools, such as Nansen, Dune Analytics, and MEV-Inspect, offer valuable insights into MEV activity within the blockchain ecosystem. By providing real-time data and visualizations, these tools empower network participants, researchers, and developers to identify trends, detect vulnerabilities, and devise strategies to address the challenges posed by MEVs.

Opportunities and Risks for Investors in the MEV Space

Investors can gain exposure to the MEV space by investing in projects that develop solutions and tools to address the challenges associated with MEVs. These projects may include:

  • Layer 2 scaling solutions: Companies and projects focused on developing Layer 2 technologies, such as Optimistic Rollups and zk-Rollups, may offer promising investment opportunities, given their potential to mitigate MEV-related issues.
  • MEV analytics and monitoring tools: As the demand for MEV analytics and monitoring grows, investing in companies that create these tools could present a viable investment opportunity.
  • Blockchain infrastructure projects: Investments in projects that focus on improving blockchain infrastructure, such as Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) or innovative consensus mechanisms, may offer exposure to the MEV space.

Risks associated with investing in the MEV space

While there are compelling investment opportunities in the MEV space, investors should also be aware of the associated risks:

  • Regulatory risk: As MEV practices may fall under regulatory scrutiny, there is a possibility that new regulations or enforcement actions could impact projects and companies operating in this space.
  • Technological risk: The fast-paced nature of blockchain technology and the continuous emergence of new innovations may render current MEV-related solutions and tools obsolete, potentially impacting investments in these projects.
  • Market risk: Given the nascent and volatile nature of the blockchain ecosystem, investments in MEV-related projects may be subject to significant market fluctuations.

Due diligence and risk management

To navigate the opportunities and risks associated with investing in the MEV space, investors should:

  • Conduct thorough due diligence: Researching and understanding the underlying technologies, market dynamics, and competitive landscape of MEV-related projects is crucial for making informed investment decisions.
  • Diversify investments: Spreading investments across multiple projects and sectors within the blockchain ecosystem can help mitigate the risks associated with MEV investments.
  • Monitor regulatory developments: Staying informed about regulatory changes and their potential impact on the MEV space is essential for managing investments in this area.

Final thoughts

Maximal Extractable Values (MEVs) play a significant role in shaping the blockchain ecosystem and have far-reaching implications for decentralized networks. Understanding and addressing the challenges associated with MEVs is essential for fostering a more secure, stable, and equitable environment for all network participants. By staying informed and proactive, the blockchain community can navigate the complexities of the MEV landscape and contribute to the ongoing growth and innovation in this exciting domain.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.


How do MEVs impact the adoption of decentralized applications (dApps)?

MEVs can affect the adoption of dApps by creating uncertainty in transaction processing, leading to increased fees and potential manipulation. Addressing MEV-related challenges is crucial for improving the user experience and encouraging wider adoption of dApps.

Are there any organizations or initiatives specifically focused on addressing MEVs?

Yes, several organizations and initiatives, such as Flashbots, are specifically focused on researching and developing solutions to address the negative externalities of MEVs and improve the stability and fairness of the blockchain ecosystem.

How can decentralized exchanges (DEXs) address the issue of MEVs?

Decentralized exchanges can employ various techniques, such as batch auctions, time-weighted average prices, or even privacy-enhancing technologies, to reduce the opportunities for MEV extraction and improve the trading experience for users.

Can MEVs impact the security of smart contracts?

MEVs can indirectly impact the security of smart contracts by creating incentives for network participants to manipulate transaction ordering or exploit vulnerabilities. Developers should be aware of the potential MEV-related risks when designing and deploying smart contracts.

How do MEVs relate to the concept of economic abstraction in blockchain networks?

Economic abstraction refers to the separation of the underlying blockchain’s native token from the fees required for network operations. MEVs can play a role in economic abstraction by creating incentives for network participants to interact with the network using non-native tokens or other value-bearing instruments.