An Ethereum smart contract feature that offers rebates for fees has developers scratching their heads, wondering if they should toss the old code in light of an exponential rise in transaction costs.
Called gas tokens, these smart contract loopholes are a way to send transactions on the cheap by “tokenzing” gas, the fees paid for running computations on-chain. The feature allows an Ethereum user to buy up transaction fees when they are low, store them and then spend them when the fee price inevitably rises again.
While the matter is still under discussion, some developers worry tokenized gas could one day act as a “price floor” for transaction fees and keep them permanently high.
As fees hit record highs twice in the same week, developer Alexey Akhunov’s June Ethereum Improvement Proposal to get rid of gas tokens, (EIP) 2751, is getting renewed attention.
Akhunov’s napkin math in the Ethereum Research and Developers messaging app shows that about 1.5% to 2% of Ethereum transactions over the summer used a prepaid gas token. Moreover, many algorithmic traders have similar setups that Akhunov’s analysis does not capture, developer Ali Atiia added.
“Transaction pools are basically like a one-sided order book where you bid for the gas prices. Those orders placed in a particular place are to make sure you buy the dips, like in the traditional two-way order book,” Akhunov said on Friday’s biweekly developer call, adding that he is still conducting analysis on the magnitude of gas token usage.
Paid to prune
Blockchains, at their very core, are data settlement layers. Some data is more valuable than other data and maintaining data on-chain is a cost node runners have to bear.
Ethereum tries to mitigate this problem by offering ether (ETH) back for deleting old contracts or information from contracts. This, some claim, is now being gamed to nab lower transaction fees.