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Bitcoin Experiences MEV in More Subtle Ways Compared to Ethereum

Arbitrage opportunities are prevalent in both traditional finance and the realm of cryptocurrencies, with the latter exhibiting more distinct opportunities due to the transparent nature of pending transactions and extended settlement periods.

While Ethereum has been a primary platform for such opportunities, Miner Extractable Value (MEV) is gradually emerging in the Bitcoin space through practices like “sniping” Ordinal inscriptions, mining empty blocks, and miner cartelization. The rise of MEV on Bitcoin could potentially lead to market pressure for mempools to transition to a more private setting, potentially challenging the fundamental principles of the cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchains are often lauded for enabling trading of various assets without the need for centralized intermediaries. Despite the speculative nature of many assets, individuals have reaped substantial profits from trading them, as seen with SHIB, WIF, and PEPE coins in recent years.

Decentralized exchanges with Automated Market Makers (AMMs) have facilitated early access to tokens before their listing on centralized exchanges. AMMs match buyers and sellers without the need for extensive identity verification, offering a more streamlined trading experience.

AMMs are often compared to traditional stock markets, with the former providing real-time trading opportunities. However, AMMs operate differently, allowing for visible pending transactions that can be exploited for arbitrage.

MEV, often referred to as Maximal (or Miner) Extractable Value, extends beyond AMMs, encompassing various practices like sandwich trades and other inefficiency findings. These activities are prevalent in both Ethereum and Bitcoin ecosystems, with MEV posing both merits and drawbacks to market participants.

On Bitcoin, MEV has started to manifest through activities like the trading of inscriptions using the Ordinals protocol, creating opportunities for front-running and potential market manipulation. Additionally, mining practices such as empty block mining and miner cartelization exhibit elements of MEV, raising concerns about network centralization and fair market practices.

As MEV continues to evolve in the cryptocurrency space, vigilance among network participants is crucial to mitigate potential risks and ensure a fair and transparent market environment. The emergence of MEV on Bitcoin underscores the need for ongoing scrutiny and regulatory measures to uphold the integrity of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.