MetaMask Introduces New Feature Smart Transaction to Avoid MEV

Reported by Coindesk, MetaMask, the most popular crypto wallet for Ethereum, is rolling out a new feature this week designed to help users avoid the consequences of maximal extractable value, or MEV.

The optional new feature, called Smart Transactions, will allow users to submit transactions to a “virtual mempool” before they are officially cemented on-chain. According to Consensys, the company behind MetaMask, the virtual mempool will protect against certain kinds of MEV strategies, and it will run behind-the-scenes simulations of transactions to help users get lower fees.

MEV is extra profit that blockchain operators can extract from users by previewing or re-ordering transactions before they are written to the network, sometimes likened to the unsavory practice of front-running orders in traditional financial markets. MEV has a major impact on how Ethereum operates – boosting prices for users, slowing down transaction speeds, and even causing transactions to fail under certain network conditions.

“There’s $400 million every year that are being wasted on reverting transactions, stuck transactions, and just very obviously predatory MEV front-running and sandwich attacks,” Jason Linehan, director of the Special Mechanisms Group division of Consensys, said in an interview.

“Everyone agrees it’s a huge problem,” said Linehan. “From a user experience perspective, the idea that you pay for a transaction that does nothing, that’s, like, nonsensical.”

MetaMask’s solution – its virtual mempool – bears some resemblance to a private mempool, which has become an increasingly popular strategy for ensuring transaction privacy and protecting against MEV. It’s the platform’s first step in a much more ambitious roadmap, which CoinDesk reported on earlier this year, to radically shift how MetaMask routes transactions to Ethereum under the hood.

Private mempool services can sometimes raise centralization concerns since they allow middlemen to touch transactions before they are published to Ethereum. Consensys insists its virtual mempool is different, and is necessary for addressing Ethereum’s large hidden costs.

“We’re not going to try to take over Ethereum or something,” said Linehan, “but there’s no way that this becomes the base layer for the future of the global economy if it’s wasting $400 million of its users’ money every year on things that literally do nothing for them. That’s pure waste.”

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