Miner Extractable Value (MEV) bots have become a prominent feature in the world of cryptocurrency, particularly within the Ethereum network. These bots are designed to identify and exploit profitable opportunities within the blockchain, but they have also been associated with scams and controversial practices. This wiki provides an in-depth look at MEV bots, their functionality, and the ethical considerations surrounding their use.
What is MEV?
MEV stands for “Miner Extractable Value” or “Maximum Extractable Value.” It refers to the potential profits that miners or validators can generate by selectively reordering, censoring, or including specific transactions in a block. MEV arises from the flexibility of transaction processing in the Ethereum network.
MEV is also emerging in the NFT market. Techniques used in traditional MEV opportunities can be applied in the NFT space. For instance, searchers can program transactions to be first in line to buy a popular NFT or buy an entire set of NFTs in one transaction.
MEV Bots Explained
MEV bots are software applications programmed to track the Ethereum blockchain for new transactions, identify profitable opportunities, and execute those transactions on behalf of their owner. These bots aim to capture as much of the MEV as possible and can take various forms, such as flash boats, arbitrage bots, and liquidation bots.
Arbitrage Bots: An MEV arbitrage bot monitors trades on decentralized exchanges (DEXes) and takes advantage of price discrepancies. For example, it may execute a buy order just moments before a large buy order on a DEX, capitalizing on the subsequent price increase.
Sandwich Attacks: A sandwich attack is a strategy where the MEV bot inserts its trades between large buy and sell orders. This manipulation can lead to profits for the bot at the expense of other traders.
Liquidation Bots: Some MEV bots focus on liquidating troubled crypto-investor accounts. These bots can automatically seize and sell collateral when its value dips too low, earning profits from the liquidation process.
Typical MEV Bots
Flashbots: It is an independent project that allows searchers to submit MEV transactions to validators without revealing them to the public mempool. On July 26, 2023, Flashbots announced it had raised $60 million in a Series B round led by Paradigm, highlighting its significance in the MEV landscape.
Jito Labs: Jito Labs, a Solana MEV software, focuses on maximizing benefits on the Solana blockchain. On August 11, 2022, Jito Labs announced the completion of a $10 million Series A round, co-led by Multicoin Capital and Framework Ventures, with participation from Solana Ventures and others, emphasizing its role in the evolving MEV space.
MEV Bot Profits
MEV Bots are highly active in decentralized exchanges (DEXs). According to an analysis, they account for a significant portion of trading activity, with 50% of trading volume on Uniswap being consumed by MEV bots.
EigenPhi, a leading firm specializing in MEV and liquidity data analysis, provided a case study to illustrate the profit potential of these bots. On February 27th, 2023, the creators of a specific sandwich bot brought it to life. By April 17th, it had gained public attention, contributing to over 60% of blocks and leading to an increase in Ethereum’s gas fees. Though initially slow to generate profits, the bot capitalized on a popular altcoin trading trend, earning $2.7 million in just one week and reaching a total of $6.3 million by May 8th. Utilizing 7082 tokens for sandwich attacks and holding onto certain altcoins like PEPE, the bot managed to outperform its competitors and generate substantial profits.
However, MEV bots are not without risks. They can become targets for hackers. On April 3rd, 2023, several top MEV bots were targeted, leading to a loss of around $25 million. This incident highlights the potential vulnerabilities associated with MEV bots and underscores the importance of security measures in their operation.
MEV bots have been associated with both legitimate profit-making methods and controversial practices. Some strategies, such as sandwich attacks, have been criticized for their manipulative nature. Additionally, the use of MEV bots has led to increased transaction fees and network congestion at times.
MEV Bot Scams
The MEV bot concept has also been leveraged in scams. In 2021 and 2022, there was a surge in fraudulent schemes where scammers promised to show victims how to create a smart contract for MEV trading. Victims were instructed to deposit Ether, which was then routed to the scammer’s wallet. As of the research date, these scams have led to significant losses, with some reports indicating over $250,000 USD stolen.
Regulation and Oversight
The world of MEV is largely unregulated, allowing for practices that might be considered unethical or illegal in traditional finance. Efforts are being made to make MEV more accessible and reduce the negative impacts, but the lack of regulation remains a concern.
MEV bots represent a complex and multifaceted aspect of the cryptocurrency landscape. While they offer opportunities for profit, they also raise ethical questions and have been associated with fraudulent activities. Understanding the mechanics, strategies, and potential risks of MEV bots is essential for anyone involved in the crypto space.
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