The amount of ETH distributed via the maximal extracted value (MEV) tool from Flashbots, MEV-Boost, recently surpassed 100,000 ETH ($162 million) since the Ethereum Merge last September, according to the MEV-Boost Dashboard.
The milestone is a “success story if you compare it to the state of block building before The Merge,” Flashbots strategy lead Hasu told The Block
When Ethereum relied on a proof-of-work governance model, Flashbots was one of the only builders innovating in the MEV space, Hasu said. “There’s now 8-10 builders who are all competitive, so I think MEV-Boost is doing its job well.”
A majority of all blocks on Ethereum passed through Flashbots in the months since 2023 began, data from the Flashbots dashboard show. Despite its prevalence, some controversy exists stemming from Flashbots censoring transactions routed through a sanctioned privacy service known as Tornado Cash.
Chart from Flashbots transparency dashboard.
In light of that, efforts have been made to mitigate centralization with MEV-Boost, which “has done a lot to decentralize the MEV space,” according to Hasu.
Building towards decentralization
The efforts of Flashbots to open-source the code behind MEV-Boost gives sophisticated companies a chance to “compete for extracting MEV to eventually forward it to the validator,” Ethereum researcher and MEV-Boost Dashboard builder Toni Wahrstätte told The Block.
“This is great for decentralization because it doesn’t force validators to join specialized (but centralized) pools for successful MEV extraction and ultimately benefits the whole protocol,” Wahrstätte said.
Still, “more innovation is needed in order to remove the relays as [a] trusted party,” Hasu noted, adding that techniques are needed “that give validators the ability to build part of the block themselves if they want to without giving up MEV.”
A potential means by which censorship could be addressed in the MEV ecosystem is known as proposer-builder separation (PBS), which would detach building and assignment of blocks from one another and assign the tasks to different roles on the network, according to Alchemy.
For MEV-Boost, PBS is a partially realized integration, according to Hasu.
“MEV-Boost is a form of “proto-PBS” in the sense that it’s not part of the Ethereum protocol but rather an external piece of software, and it also relies on some additional trust assumptions,” said Hasu.
“But the upside is that we could get it much faster this way, and are able to iterate on the market design before enshrining anything in the protocol,” said Hasu.
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