Popular web browsers and the gigantic corporations behind them, like Google and Microsoft, are under ever-increasing scrutiny. Concern is rising over how they store data and share it with advertisers. And, how they enable advertisers to collect data themselves through the use of cookies and other trackers.

Could the Brave browser offer an alternative? We explore below.

What is the Brave browser?

Brave is a free web browser designed to help people keep hold of their data. In traditional browsers, the data generated by web browsing is often packaged and sold to companies looking to understand what you get up to while surfing the web so they can sell targeted ads. Brave wants to change that.

It blocks adverts and trackers and gives users the opportunity to opt-in to certain advertising in exchange for its native token, the Basic Attention Token, or BAT. Find out more about the BAT in our handy guide.  

Brave’s browser interface is similar to its competitors and the software is available on both desktop and mobile devices, and for Android and iOS operating systems.

How does it work?

Brave blocks adverts displayed on websites viewed by users. It prevents advert trackers, and cookies, from initiating, operating, and collecting data while a user browses. Though users can choose to allow cookies if they need to, or alternatively, if they’re happy to see ads, the browser will reward users for watching ads with its inbuilt token, the BAT.  

On top of that, the browser has built a way for users to reward their favorite websites with tokens. A donation system is incorporated into the browser where content viewers can reward a publisher with a one-off or recurring donation of BAT.

The software company’s goal is to create a system where users are rewarded for their attention to adverts with BAT. Platform advertisers will pay to place ads in BAT and a proportion of this advertising revenue will be passed to the viewer.

This new model aims to put the control of advertising, and thus data sharing, in the hands of the internet user and to create a system where publishers can be rewarded directly for their content.

Did you know?

Publishers who accept BAT tokens already include the Washington Post, The Guardian, Barrons, and Vice.

Who created Brave?

Brave was founded by Brendan Eich and Brian Bondy. Eich also created the Mozilla Firefox browser and the JavaScript programming language. Bondy was also involved in Mozilla Firefox, as well as Evernote.

A brief history

  • May 2015 – Brave is founded by Brendan Eich and Brian Bondy
  • January 2016 – First version of Brave launches
  • March 2017 – Brave creates Basic Attention Token (BAT)
  • May 2017 – BAT public sale begins, an ICO that raises $36 million
  • December 2017 – Brave browser achieves a million monthly active users
  • July 2018 – The browser reaches a Top 10 List in Google Play Store in 21 countries and 3 million users
  • October 2018 – A redesigned Chromium-based Brave version launches
  • January 2019 – Brave achieves 5.5 million monthly active users and 28,000 verified content publishers
  • March 2019 – Opt-in ads program via Brave’s developer channel reaches the second phase where channel users will be rewarded in BAT

What’s so special about it?

Popular web browsers and the gigantic corporations behind them, like Google and Microsoft are under ever-increasing scrutiny over how they store data and share it with advertisers.

Brave steps a little closer to the decentralized and more private ethos originally behind cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. While the browser isn’t decentralized, it’s a positive move to helping users decide what their date gets used for.

It’s open source, blocks internet adverts and trackers, and does not store a user’s browsing history, all by default. Brave says that user data is kept on a user’s own computer or device, rather than being stored on the company’s cloud servers.

As Brave blocks adverts, trackers, and cookies, it offers fast page loading speeds as well as lower battery consumption for mobile devices. Brave says its browser consumes 40 percent less battery than other browsers and that web pages load twice as fast on desktop and up to eight times as fast on mobile.

How does the Basic Attention Token (BAT) fit in?

BAT is paid to earning content publishers and to users for viewing adverts. It was the method of funding in Brave’s successful 2017 initial coin offering (ICO).

One billion BAT were sold during the ICO and 500 million kept back to be used on the platform. BAT supply is capped at 1.5 billion tokens and the cryptocurrency is tradeable on a number of exchanges. BAT owners are able to transfer BAT into other cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies via exchanges or use it to reward Brave content publishers via the browser.

The future

Brave is gradually progressing its novel advertising and content rewarding platform. Its pro-privacy ethos is helping to grow its user-base, but when compared with Google Chrome’s billion users, the browser’s 5.5 million active users seems tiny in comparison.

The challenge for Brave will be whether advertisers migrate from the existing business model favored by browsers like Google and if it can scale its user base enough to make it a serious competitor. Though speed, privacy, and transparency, is increasingly important to individuals, it is after all money that makes the world go around.

That said, Brave has made a bold move and a strong start and is gaining some traction competing against existing models and popular browsers. The future looks bright for Brave.