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MetaMask Rolls Out ‘Smart Transactions’ to Tackle Ethereum Front-Running

MetaMask, the leading Ethereum crypto wallet, is unveiling a new feature called Smart Transactions this week, aimed at mitigating the impact of maximal extractable value on users.

Smart Transactions, an optional feature, enables users to submit transactions to a “virtual mempool” before they are officially recorded on the blockchain. Developed by ConsenSys, the company behind MetaMask, this virtual mempool defends against certain MEV strategies by simulating transactions behind the scenes to secure lower fees for users.

MEV represents additional profit blockchain operators can extract by manipulating transactions before they are processed, similar to front-running in traditional financial markets. MEV significantly influences Ethereum’s functionality, inflating costs, slowing transaction speeds, and occasionally causing transactions to fail.

Jason Linehan, director of ConsenSys’ Special Mechanisms Group, highlighted the prevalence of wasted funds due to MEV-related issues, emphasizing the urgent need for solutions to enhance user experience.

MetaMask’s virtual mempool initiative mirrors private mempools, which enhance transaction privacy and guard against MEV. This marks the platform’s initial step in an ambitious roadmap, aimed at revolutionizing MetaMask’s transaction routing methods on Ethereum.

Linehan clarified that MetaMask’s virtual mempool is distinct from conventional private mempools and is essential for addressing Ethereum’s substantial hidden expenses.

Smart Transactions operate by leveraging Ethereum’s existing infrastructure, with MetaMask’s virtual mempool financially penalizing builders and searchers if they deviate from quoted transaction prices. Linehan noted that the majority of Ethereum’s current operators have already opted into MetaMask’s virtual mempool program.

In addition to securing better prices for users, Smart Transactions simplify transaction tracking within MetaMask, eliminating the need for users to navigate external block explorer websites.

Linehan described Smart Transactions as a foundational step towards MetaMask’s broader objectives, envisioning future developments such as intent-based architectures.

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