Brave – The Browser that pays Crypto

Recently I read an article about upcoming innovative block chain technologies. What stood out the most to me was the mentioning of a new browser called ‘Brave’.

It has a strong focus on security of your data. But what is truly remarkable is the fact that you can be rewarded BAT when using the browser. This stands for ‘Basic Attention Token’ and is a cryptocurrency, i.e. it can also be exchanged for real money.

Yet there is so much more to this browser.

Brave takes care of your security

You have to make sure that the lock is shown in the address bar of your browser whenever you visit a website. Everyone knows that, right? It indicates the use of https. This ensures the authenticity of the visited website and the protection of the privacy because the exchanged data is encrypted.
Brave will upgrade your connection to https whenever possible!

But it gets even better. It will block all trackers from websites. Online trackers are scripts designed to gather information about how you move through your web.

The following situation is probably familiar to you: You want to buy something and do some research.
Next thing you know is that you see advertisements for this product everywhere.
Perfect example of a “successful” tracker.

If you require more security you can also open a private tab with Tor. This will not only conceal your browsing history. It will also hide your IP address to the sites you are visiting.

Brave is faster

Brave keeps even more unwanted things out of your surfing experience. It will block any advertisements you encounter. This naturally leads to the side being loaded faster while also saving you bandwidth (which it likes to remind you of).

Number of trackers & ads blocked, bandwidth and time saved.

Still, the claim of higher speeds should be taken with a grain of salt. It might be true that Brave is faster than for example a normal Firefox browser. Yet, you can install extensions on you Firefox browser like the add blocker which does something similar and thus will also produce similar speed improvements.

The benefits of Brave here are that you do not have to look for extensions that fulfill your need for security and add-removal. It will come right out of the box. Also, you can rest assured that it will be maintained properly.

Brave and Ads

Let’s talk about what I like most about this browser. No, it is not the fact that you can earn money with it. Well, only kind of.
It is the fact that they are “taking out the middle man”. What do I mean by that?

My understanding of the current modus operandi of advertisement in the net is the following:
You are the product that is being sold. Websites get money for showing you advertisements. Your surfing behavior is analyzed and the gathered data is being used to show you custom-tailored ads. Whoever gathers this data can make a ton of money with it.

(I am sure that this an oversimplification. Hey, I never claimed to be an expert on this. So if anyone has more information how advertisement on the web really works, let me know.)

Brave is different. All ads you would normally encounter. Blocked! All trackers that would analyze your behavior. Blocked!

In some sense there is an advertisement void which Brave knows cleverly to fill. It gives you the option to be shown commercials. This happens in a very low key and non intrusive manner. No more “Your PC is infected. Get help now!” banners.

You have control over the number of ads you are being shown. If you want, you can even
turn of that feature entirely and browse completely ad free.

It should be mentioned that, in order to provide you custom tailored ads, Brave itself does analyze your browsing behavior

So how is that better than what others are doing?
It is better because this happens locally on your device. The information is – allegedly – not shared with anyone. At least not in a form where it could be connected to your devices or user identity.

Let’s hear what Brave has to say about that:

We do not have access to identifiable user data. The anonymized aggregated ad campaign related data we do collect is used for accounting and reporting, but this data cannot be mapped back to devices or user identities of any kind.

In summary: you are only shown a handful of “high quality” ads at your own volition. On the other side advertisers will get better results because their ads are precisely targeted and they do not have to
give a huge chunk of their profit to middlemen.

Let’s talk about BAT

So, what kind of ads to you get you ask? Either an ad is displayed when you open a new tab. Which you might not even notice. Or a box pops up which you might as well could ignore. Whenever this happens you are rewarded with a fraction of a BAT. To let you partake in the advertisement revenue.

An example of an ad

At first I was somewhat confused.

If I earn BAT by watching ads, does that not mean that evermore BAT is produced and you will have inflation?

But I was missing the point. The BAT that is earned is not produced. Instead it has been “bought” by the
advertiser and will be given to you as a reward for your attention.

In total the amount of BAT is limited to 1.5 billion of which 1 billion are in circulation, see here.

Before we continue, a big disclaimer. My understanding of cryptos is limited. I am fascinated by the topic but did not yet dare to dive in.

This brings me to the next point I like about Brave.

It lowers the barrier of entry to the topic crypto currencies. I did not mind changing my main browser (especially since I could easily import all settings and bookmarks without issues) and now I earn crypto while doing something I am very familiar with. Browsing the web.

The specifics of how to trade or cash in BATs is still nebulous to me. I intend to give you an update on that
once I more experience with that.

But there is another use for the BAT you amass.

You can support your favorite content creators with BAT

Brave also thought about all those content creators that might miss out on advertisement revenues. You can support them directly with your BAT. Either in the form of a monthly or a one time payment.

Support a verified website. Either with a monthly amount or a one time donation

You even have the option to let Brave decide whom to give a portion of your BAT based on your browsing
history. It determines the fraction of time you spent on every website and splits up an amount of your
choosing when it is payday.

Because you might want to give more BAT to content creators than you can earn in a month it is also possible to load additional funds into you wallet.

Again, you have fine control over the specifics here and can also choose to ignore this feature entirely.
I personally prefer to choose myself whom to give how much.

The drawback here is that we are still in the early adoption phase of this technology and most content
creators are not yet verified. If a creator or website did not verify itself with Brave then your payment will remain in your wallet until they do.

Brave is open source

Your heared right. The source code for Brave is completely open for public scrutiny. you want to, you can check out the entire source code over at Github.
This gives the statement that gathered data stays on your machine more weight. Even though it is more of a head thing because I am not going to check the code to verify it.

Brave is not without controversy

So far this browser sounds too good to be true. Thus I decided to find out whether there are critiques out
there and what they do have to say.
Turns out that there is actually some controversy surrounding Brave. I have found two things that happened in recent history.

“Hijacking” of referral links

When users visited certain cryptocurrency websites the browser would autocomplete the referral link of Brave without asking.
Some people called that hijacking. But I think that this is not entirely accurate. Hijacking for me would be when you use a referral code which is than replaced by the one of Brave. That was not the case.
They were only taking commissions that would be lost otherwise. Which probably does not even hurt the users but the platforms in question. Still I can understand why people got upset.

After the public outcry this feature was turned off by default. You can activate it if you are cool with it.

Intransparency of tips

Another controversial topic was tipping content creators that are not yet verified by Brave. Previously the BAT would go into some kind of omnibus account waiting for the creator to register. To some users this seemed like the money was taken by Brave in hopes that it will never be claimed.

The process was fundamentally changed once this came out. If you are tipping a content creator that is not yet verified then your tip will remain in your wallet until he does.

Bottom line

I am not entirely sure what to think about these two incidents. In case of the intransparency of tips I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The “hijacking” thing weighs a bit heavier. It was by no means behind the back because the user could clearly see the auto-completion. Yet I cannot deny that I would expect to be asked whether I am fine with that.
It shows me that I should use Brave with some vigilance.

Final Thoughts

My attitude towards Brave – as you might have guessed – is mostly positive. The two mentioned incidents leave a bit of bitter taste in my mouth. But not to such it an extent that it is off putting.
I find their approach to advertisement fascinating and their security focus reassuring.

For now I think of Brave as an experiment. It is the first application of the block chain that I can relate to.

In the future I will keep you updated once I have delved deeper into the crypto trading portion and the support of content creators.

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