How does Decentr differ from Brave?
At the outset, it’s fair to say that in our view the Brave browser is a step forward but, when viewed in the context of its relationship with BAT, about three steps backwards.
To be fair, Brave, unlike the big tech incumbents… you know who you are… is not, at least in our estimation, deliberately and mendaciously exploiting users for either centralised control or economic advantage. The issue is that on a conceptual level Brave cannot escape the restrictive linear business model that is common to all online and offline businesses.
This is due to issues of centralisation — either operationally or as a result of centralised economics models (that are, admittedly, until the Deconomy comes into play, the only option). That isn’t Brave’s fault.
As a result, despite the impressive technical pedigree common to Brave and the Brave team, their final product has been, and will continue to be, shaped by the broader mistakes, morals and capsized mores of an aggressively centralised mainstream economy — again, not their fault.
Regardless, Brave, in our view, raises more questions than answers about the broader progress and direction of technology and the online experience. In many ways, the business model on which Brave operates is more contradictory and potentially more redundant than the current Internet.
These are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed, or we risk being blinded to the deeper faults and faulty logic endemic to all and any tech that even hints at an incremental improvement to the online experience, but fails to deliver on a foundational level. Where this concerns Brave, the bottom line is that online is an experience that is so corrupted and corruptible, due to being hyper-aggressively centralised, that a new browser, no matter how great, won’t be enough to save it.
In fact, get it wrong, and the risk is a new browser will compound the failings of the current internet, not remedy them, and we’re back at square one.
What Brave Does Well
Let’s start with the good: the good is great and no one has any objection to it: the Brave browser is technically robust and does not store personal data (browsing history, IP addresses, etc) on its servers while blocking trackers that follow users from website to website, and allows users to customise their privacy settings for each website they visit.
But — and let’s be honest — the tech to do all of that is hardly game-changing: assemble together a roomful of well-funded developers and watch them come up with something similar or superior as tech development continues to race ahead.
We are doing precisely that — and we’re not claiming our browser to be anything more than it is: it is simply a commonsense way forward for any Web 3.0/4.0 browser solution.
The real innovation is providing a compelling reason for people to want to use a new product — a reason Brave does not seem to have.
The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is, according to the Brave faithful, that reason, which brings us neatly to…
Where Brave Gets it Wrong
… the bad. If BAT is supposed to be the value-added reason to use Brave, then Brave is missing the mark entirely. It is precisely when the relationship with BAT rears its head that Brave’s shortcomings become more pronounced (shortcomings, we would add, that are common to all redundant tokens and tokenomics — again, not only BAT).
At the outset, BAT is not compulsory to use Brave, which is free. That’s fair enough. Or is it?
In our view — and think about this for a moment — the fact that BAT is not intrinsic to the system in some way and on some level already raises a lot of red flags about its integration into the system and hence its broader utility.
As with any tokenomic model, if the native token is not intrinsic to the system that supports it, this by definition and design diminishes its utility to zero in those cases users choose not to engage. This would not appear to be a great business model and example of tokenomics — not if your target demographic can just opt out without a diminishment of the product experience, which will ultimately reflect on the token price.
By way of comparison, it is also not compulsory to hold or buy our native token, DEC, as Decentr is also free to download and use: however, the critical difference is that anyone who does hold DEC continues to benefit from casual users who choose to use the web privately. This is because, even casual usage — whereby a casual user has no particular interest in increasing their PDV — raises overall platform ADV due to casual user engagement, increasing the overall price of DEC.
This is good news for users who do hold DEC, as they receive greater economic benefits as part of our dFintech features, including dPay and dLoans.
To continue by way of balance with the good: Brave’s “reward” program does ensure they serve up ads that’ll preserve your digital privacy.
The company notes in a blog post that “unlike conventional digital ads, ad matching happens directly on the user’s device, so a user’s data is never sent to anyone, including Brave.”
The blog post goes on to point out that “by default, the browser comes with an ad blocker. However, Brave doesn’t want to eliminate online ads, only strip out invasive web tracking” — which we agree is a great feature, and one we have incorporated.
However, the effectiveness of this model risks being hampered by limited data points — especially on a browser, such as Brave, that does not — and does not pretend to — address the centralisation problem that makes the current internet — due largely (if ironically) to intrusive advertising — not worth “browsing” anyway.
Where Brave is Fundamentally Misguided
The misguided part actually refers to a limitation that is actually endemic to Brave’s sales pitch: in theory, the ability to opt in to watch ads gives the user choice: however, the system only matches ads to a user’s on-device keyword history. This raises questions as to the effectiveness of targeting content: it’s hard enough getting targeting right when unfettered ad-tracking is in place.
I.e., it’s incredibly hard to get targeting right under any current marketing or technology paradigm — and ads simply exist to annoy as a result.
And this gets us to the heart of the broader problem. The point that the Brave “vision” of a new advertising model seems to have missed is a critical — indeed likely fatal — one: advertising is dead.
At least it is in the traditional sense. The point that Brave has missed is two-fold: 1) In an increasingly mobile world users do not want to click on ads on a mobile device, which explains why 2) the shift in advertising has moved from “search” to “discover”; i.e., users are increasingly reliant upon product promotions they find in their social feeds (from advertisers, friend recommendations, etc), simply because it is easier to do so than type in search words on a mobile device or click on an onsite ad.
Decentr takes this sea change in user browsing habits into account on a fundamental design level; our R&D has demonstrated this epochal shift away from search needs to continue to be at the heart of online communications.
This is the reason why we introduced a 100% secure browser in conjunction with a 100% decentralised communications “user layer” — a system that favours discover over search — not only for advertising but for all a user’s socioeconomic needs.
That is the future of communications and, by association, effective product and service promotions and consumer engagement. BAT is part of a past that even Brave seems to have not realised has ceased to exist.
On final analysis, BAT is a token that exclusively exists by design and deployment to support a dead paradigm.