Exploring the Edges of Blockchain Technology: A Deep Dive into MEV and Oracles

In the dynamic world of blockchain technology, a Research Note from authors at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and University College London (UCL) delves into the complex territories of Maximal Extractable Value (MEV) and blockchain oracles, presenting a nuanced study that underscores both the potential and the pitfalls of these advanced concepts in cryptoasset services and Decentralised Finance (DeFi).

At the heart of this exploration lies MEV, a concept that thrives on the transparency and ordering of transactions within blockchain networks. While it heralds a new era of value extraction, it also opens the door to strategies that may skirt the ethical line, raising concerns over market fairness and the integrity of transactional processes. From the beneficial arbitrage opportunities to the controversial practices of front-running and sandwich attacks, MEV presents a multifaceted phenomenon that demands a keen understanding of its implications.

Equally significant are blockchain oracles, pivotal in bridging the on-chain and off-chain worlds. These conduits of information are indispensable for the seamless operation of smart contracts, yet they bear vulnerabilities that can be exploited, casting a shadow over their reliability. The study highlights the delicate balance that must be struck in the design and implementation of oracles, stressing the importance of robust data sources, decentralisation, and innovative solutions to mitigate risks.

Amidst these technological advancements, the Research Note acknowledges the transformative potential of MEV and oracles while remaining cognizant of the challenges they pose. This Research Note not only enriches the understanding of these complex domains but also fuels the ongoing discourse on the future of blockchain technology, regulatory frameworks, and the intricate dance between innovation and oversight.

Key Questions

The Research Note raises and inspires several pertinent questions, critical for understanding their impact on the blockchain ecosystem:

  1. MEV and Market Dynamics: How does MEV redefine transaction ordering and block propagation in blockchain networks, and what implications does this have for market fairness and efficiency?
  2. Strategies and Implications of MEV: What specific strategies are utilized to extract MEV, and how do they influence the behavior of miners and traders? What are the ethical and economic repercussions of these strategies on the broader market?
  3. Blockchain Oracles as Information Bridges: How do blockchain oracles function as intermediaries between external data sources and blockchain networks? What are the challenges in ensuring the accuracy and timeliness of data provided by oracles?
  4. Vulnerability and Security of Oracles: What are the inherent risks associated with the use of oracles in smart contracts? How can these systems be compromised, and what are the potential consequences?
  5. Regulatory Considerations and Challenges: How do MEV and blockchain oracles complicate the existing regulatory landscape? What considerations should regulators keep in mind to strike a balance between fostering innovation and ensuring market integrity and consumer protection?

Addressing these questions is crucial for stakeholders to navigate the complexities of MEV and blockchain oracles, ensuring informed decision-making and the development of robust, resilient blockchain infrastructures.

Key Insights

In the following we try to summarise the main “Key Insights” of the Research Note:

  1. MEV’s Impact on Blockchain Ecosystem: The study provides a nuanced look into how MEV influences transaction ordering and block propagation. It underscores the intricate balance between potential benefits like efficient market making and risks such as network congestion and unfair trading practices.
  2. Strategies for Extracting MEV: Various strategies employed to capitalize on MEV are explored, highlighting both innovative and controversial practices. This includes an examination of their economic and ethical impacts on the blockchain market.
  3. Functionality and Risks of Blockchain Oracles: The research delves into the operational mechanisms of blockchain oracles, emphasizing their critical role in connecting blockchain with external data. It also scrutinizes the vulnerabilities associated with oracles, including issues of data reliability and security threats.
  4. Regulatory Landscape and MEV: The Research Note aims to provide an insightful discussion on the regulatory challenges posed by MEV and blockchain oracles. The study suggests a need to clarify how MEV and blockchain oracles will cohere with upcoming phases of regulatory frameworks, taking into account the FCA’s primary, secondary objectives as well as the industry state.

These insights provide a foundation for starting to understand the intricate dynamics of MEV and blockchain oracles, guiding stakeholders in navigating this evolving domain.


In conclusion, the Research Note on MEV and Blockchain Oracles provides critical initial insights into these evolving components of the blockchain ecosystem. The exploration of MEV reveals its dual nature – while offering opportunities for efficient market operations, it also poses significant challenges in terms of fairness and security. Similarly, blockchain oracles, as key facilitators of smart contract functionality, bring forth concerns regarding data accuracy and vulnerability to manipulation.

We underscore the necessity for continuous research, informed regulatory approaches, and collaborative efforts among technologists, regulators, and market participants. This collaborative approach is crucial in navigating the complexities of MEV and blockchain oracles, ensuring that the development of these technologies aligns with the broader goals of market integrity, transparency, and consumer protection.

Thus, while MEV and blockchain oracles present promising advancements in the realm of blockchain and DeFi, their successful integration into the mainstream financial ecosystem hinges on addressing these challenges through innovation, regulation, and education.

For the full details and insights of this compelling exploration, we invite the interested reader to delve into the complete Research Note.

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