Time Is Money: Strategic Timing Games in Proof-Of-Stake Protocols

Authors Caspar Schwarz-Schilling , Fahad Saleh , Thomas Thiery , Jennifer Pan, Nihar Shah, Barnabé Monnot

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Author Details

Caspar Schwarz-Schilling
  • Ethereum Foundation, Berlin, Germany
Fahad Saleh
  • Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC, USA
Thomas Thiery
  • Ethereum Foundation, Lyon, France
Jennifer Pan
  • Jump Crypto, Chicago, IL, USA
Nihar Shah
  • Jump Crypto, Chicago, IL, USA
Barnabé Monnot
  • Ethereum Foundation, Berlin, Germany


The authors acknowledge helpful discussions and comments from Francesco d’Amato and Anders Elowsson. We also appreciate the significant contributions of Mike Neuder in obtaining the necessary data for this study.

Cite AsGet BibTex

Caspar Schwarz-Schilling, Fahad Saleh, Thomas Thiery, Jennifer Pan, Nihar Shah, and Barnabé Monnot. Time Is Money: Strategic Timing Games in Proof-Of-Stake Protocols. In 5th Conference on Advances in Financial Technologies (AFT 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 282, pp. 30:1-30:17, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


We propose a model suggesting that rational consensus participants may play timing games, and strategically delay their block proposal to optimize MEV capture, while still ensuring the proposal’s inclusion in the canonical chain. In this context, ensuring economic fairness among consensus participants is critical to preserving decentralization. We contend that a model grounded in rational consensus participation provides a more accurate portrayal of behavior in economically incentivized systems such as blockchain protocols. We empirically investigate timing games on the Ethereum network and demonstrate that while timing games are worth playing, they are not currently being exploited by consensus participants. By quantifying the marginal value of time, we uncover strong evidence pointing towards their future potential, despite the limited exploitation of MEV capture observed at present.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Algorithmic game theory and mechanism design
  • blockchain
  • proof-of-stake
  • game theory
  • maximal extractable value


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