Basic Attention Token Creator Hints At Huge Partnership, At Least 80 Million New Users

  • Brendan Eich, the creator of the Basic Attention Token, hinted at a new publisher partnership, but didn't name any partners.
  • Per his words, it has 80 million adblocking users, plus many more that don't block ads.

Brendan Eich, creator of the Brave browser and the Basic Attention Token (BAT), has dropped hints that a major content publishing website is in talks to adopt BAT usage and payments, during a recent interview with the well-known cryptocurrency-related podcast What Bitcoin Did.

The Brave browser is designed both to block the vast majority of “abusive and dangerous” advertisements and trackers, while simultaneously providing a platform for direct advertising and payments to users, as well as direct funding of content creators from users and advertisers via BAT.

The mention came as Eich was discussing the potential of BAT to provide two revenue streams to online publishing platforms; both from ad revenue, and from “a lightweight, low-friction, user-pays model” - micropayments for individual pieces of content (payments “by the yard”) instead of paying for general access, so as to avoid “cross subsidization” (overpaying for too much content that will never be viewed).

Such micropayments constitute a “found-money effect,” a revenue source that was not previously possible or viable with fiat money. On the potential partnership, Eich consciously hinted:

I’m going to tell a story about a site, and you can guess which it is. It has 80 million adblocking unique visitors per month - it has [...] many more non-adblocking, but it’s a high adblocking incidence. And they are ready to try something with us that would convert those adblocker users [...] to Brave.

Brendan Eich

Eich said that such adblocking demographics represent big opportunities for both the Brave platform in terms of general growth; but especially for the publishing entities entering the system, because they have the opportunity to immediately benefit from the BAT “grant” payments from users.

These granted tokens are given to users just for using Brave, as a sort of airdrop to quickly prime the payments system. The granted BAT can only be used to fund content creators; it can’t be sold, and the funds expire within 90 days if not used.

The grants are only a temporary measure, in anticipation of the full ad system which is currently being user-tested, according to Eich. This system will eventually pay users for watching ads, with advertisers paying users directly for their time (hence the name: basic attention token).

Well, Who’s The Partner?

This staff writer has done some back-of-the-napkin sleuthing, in an attempt - just for fun, not investment advice! - to narrow down which website Eich could have referred to.

The key piece of evidence is “80 million adblocking unique visitors per month.” According to Statista, a well-known and used web traffic statistics aggregator, 27% of global users on average use adblocking software. A website counting 80 million unique adblocked users should therefore garner about 300 million total unique monthly visitors.

According to another trusted data tracker, SimilarWeb, there are a number of publishing-style content websites hitting in this general range. Wordpress ranks at the top, with 327 million per month; Pinterest falls perfectly in the zone, at 303 million; Quora, Reddit, XHamster and IMDB fill out the bottom of the range, with 270, 245, 241, and 233 million respectively.

Neither Wordpress, nor Pinterest, nor Quora are currently registered under the BAT payment scheme. Of these three, Wordpress has already proved to be a crypto-friendly platform, being registered as a Civic Secure Identity Platform (CVC). In a convenient triangulation, Brave itself is also partnered with Civic for identity and know-your-customer services.

Brave/BAT Growth

Eich is not only the creator of Brave, but also of the JavaScript programming language, and is co-founder of the Mozilla project, which bore the Firefox browser.

During the podcast, he said that 23,000 entities are now signed up to receive BAT payments through the Brave platform. Dow Jones Media Group, and the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers are already onboard the platform. Eich added that about 90,000 users were consciously funding their BAT wallets, with a total of about 413,000 wallets funded - with "grants [having] made up the bulk of [that funding]."

BAT has had a good month or so, price wise, climbing about 160% from mid-September lows on expectations - now fulfilled - of a Coinbase listing, for a recent high of $0.39.


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What Exactly Is Facebook’s ‘Libra’ Cryptocurrency? What Are Its Challenges?

The new decade is set to launch with one of the most ambitious cryptocurrencies yet, with the social media giant Facebook’s ‘Libra’ expected to start trading in a few months. The new coin certainly has the muscle behind it: in fact, it has an entire Libra ‘Association’ that consists of companies such as Spotify, Farfetch, Uber, Lyft, PayU (Naspers’ fintech arm), and Calibra. Along with a plethora of other venture capital firms spanning the blockchain and telecommunication networks, and some non-profit organisations.

The ‘vision’ of Libra is put in no uncertain terms on its official website. That is to create: a stable global cryptocurrency built on a secure network… enabling a more inclusive global financial system.

Libra’s Ambitions, and How It Will Work

What Facebook and the other giants hope to achieve is to connect everyone in possession of a mobile phone to the global financial infrastructure. These are what Facebook considers the ‘unbanked’, those who do not have access to a bank, but who do have a mobile phone.

Libra would give these unbanked masses the ability to transfer money across the world instantly, on a secure network and at a low cost. If implemented, Libra would be an example of ‘leapfrogging’ technology, in which developing societies bypass what traditionally would have been a necessary technological evolution (i.e. the establishment of more banks) in order to get to an end point.

Libra’s Security Other and Concerns

Current proposals put Libra on a blockchain that encompasses around 100 computer servers, at least that’s the ambition. The blockchain algorithms will be programmed to work as what’s known as a “command-line programme”, something that will make scripting and interactive usage possible; with an interface of consistent options and file formats. For further security, Libra is also thought to be using Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus approach. This means that, in theory, the wider blockchain cannot be compromised even if one of the servers is disrupted.

But not everyone has faith in the new cryptocurrency, even with all the financial backing it has. Again, in theory, it should be almost impossible for a cyberattack to disrupt Libra’s blockchain, as a third of its 100 servers would have to be disrupted before such an attack could even be launched.

The Libra Association has also stressed that each of its members will have their own server, and that it will be supported independently by them and secured. Furthermore, the blockchain will have its own consensus-based algorithm. Meaning that transactions must be approved by two-thirds of all the servers before going ahead. This should make transactions more measurable and efficiently processed. Facebook has even said that Libra would be capable of processing a thousand payments per second, which would make it about 500 times more efficient than Bitcoin is today.

Libra and the Issue of Regulation

Despite the proposed ambitiousness of Libra, the United States and European Union regulatory bodies are yet to be won over. They already do not like the strength of pre-existing cryptocurrencies. Some countries have even outright banned them.

To get round this problem, the Libra Association has marketed its currency as one that has been specially designed to be friendly to regulators from the get-go. They insist, for example, that Libra is a stablecoin. If true, then this should alleviate some national fears for its potential implications on monetary policies. Still, there are concerns that if the Libra is very popular, it could become “Too Big To Fail”, which of course is a phrase still haunted by the 2007-08 economic crises.

The reason for these TBTF anxieties lies in the fact that Libra is intended to be collateralised by other currencies and some debt obligations. If there was ever a run on Libra, it would lack a centralised bank to mitigate the damage.

Libra’s special status means it will be a global currency and not specific to any one nation. So it is only natural that some national governments have expressed concerns about how it will impact on their unilateral monetary policies. Libra’s global status assures that it will fluctuate differently to any one other currency, meaning it will be shaped by its underlying assets, and may even resemble something like an index in volatility.

One way to address these fears may be found in a report conducted by the Association of German Banks. The AGB has suggested restricting Libra for payment transfers only, and not giving it the ability to provide loans. this would prevent the cryptocurrency from becoming a money creation system in its own right.

Libra — Will It Be Safe to Invest In?

Cryptocurrencies have enjoyed successful investment status and investment is predicted to keep increasing until 2020 at a minimum. Blockchain investments in the Libra cryptocurrency should be considered as a hedge in a diverse portfolio to protect against falls in other types of investments. Of course, at the moment Libra is not an asset that can be invested in… yet. But once it comes online, there’s no reason it won’t enjoy the success of others (not including the decline of Bitcoin, which may be in response to more competition from other cryptocurrencies).

Once online, Libra should be safe to invest on optimised cryptocurrency trading platforms that can handle automated and manual trading.

Libra and the Future Market

iven other fears including loss of tax revenues and transaction fees, traditional banks have already acknowledged that change is coming. In its ‘Future of Finance’ report, the Bank of England has already said that “hard infrastructure” needs to make room for, and can work with, “soft infrastructure” (cryptocurrencies). But what needs to be in place is a “well-respected” judicial and legal system, along with clear regulations, standards and rules.

As for the Libra cryptocurrency, no one can doubt the ambition of such a project. But whether it is something that the market actually needs is still a question that no one as of yet has an answer for.

Featured image by Tim Bennett on Unsplash.

This article was written by Neil Wright of Oakmount Partners Ltd, an investment consultancy firm based in Essex, UK.