For many of us, our go-to-option when we first started browsing the internet was Internet Explorer.
It was not until the creation of Firefox and Chrome did we had more reliable alternatives for our web browsing activities. Consequently, this also led to the relative demise of Internet Explorer.
Currently, Google Chrome remains the most widely used internet browser globally. Personally, I have also been using Chrome since the early 2010s due to its overall sleekness and user experience.
Despite my relative long use of Chrome, I am often annoyed by targeted ad banners. However, I still put up with it as I deemed it as a form of necessary evil. Well, at least not until I chanced upon the Brave browser.
Honestly speaking, I only got to know about the Brave browser when I came across an article from a prominent local personal finance blog, The Babylonians. After downloading and using the Brave browser for around two months, I have since ditched Chrome for it.
What were my reasons for changing? I think it was mainly due to privacy, user experience and rewards.
Before going into more details, let’s first look at what exactly the Brave browser is all about.
The Brave browser
At its core, Brave is just another internet browser similar to the likes of Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge. The Brave browser is also built upon Chromium, a free and open-source software project, which is the skeletal software that Chrome was built upon.
However, what sets Brave apart from Chrome or other browsers is its focus on privacy and speed.
In addition, the Brave browser also has an ad system, based upon blockchain technology. Through it, the creators hope that the online ad industry can be revamped, making it a fairer market for advertisers, publishers and end-users.
Privacy and speed
So how does the Brave browser deliver on its promise of privacy and speed? It does so by using an in-built ad and tracker blocker.
With this feature, online cookies and trackers that capture a user’s web browsing behaviour and pattern are automatically blocked by Brave. Thus, your browsing activity is safe from being shared online with other companies.
However, it should be noted that some form of browsing data is still being accessed in the Brave browser. Instead of such data being sent online, it is learnt locally by the AI in the Brave browser. Thus, everything happens on the device that the Brave browser is installed on.
When a user downloads and installs the Brave Browser, an ad catalogue comes installed together with the browser. This ad catalogue is updated regularly as more advertisers start using Brave as an advertising medium. Personalized ads from this ad catalogue are then sent to the user based on the browsing data learnt by the AI.
These personalized ads are shown as pop-up notifications at the bottom right of the user’s screen.
The best part? Users have a choice of viewing the ad or not. Furthermore, there is an option to disable the display of such ads through the Brave browser itself.
Thus, you can really get an ad-free experience with the Brave browser if you so wish. However, there are incentives for enabling and viewing ads in the Brave browser, which I will touch on in later parts of the post.
With this in-built privacy function, Brave claims that its browser performs three times faster than Chrome. Personally, I am not sure about that as I do not see a huge browsing speed difference between Chrome and Brave.
A fairer ad ecosystem
Remember how I mentioned earlier that the Brave creators are looking to revolutionize the online ad industry? Well, they hope to achieve this by incentivising the viewing of ads and cutting the number of parties involved in revenue sharing.
In the current online ad industry, there are lots of involved parties ranging from advertisers, publishers, internet companies and even end-users, just to name a few. This results in a hugely fragmented industry that largely favours ad platforms.
When it comes to ad revenue, internet and data companies, such as Google and Facebook, receive a huge chunk of it. Crucial components of the online ad industry such as publishers get only a small slice of the pie. Let us not even start with end-users who literally provide the resource (our data) that fuels the ad industry, but receive nothing in compensation!
To balance the odds, Brave came out with the BAT-based advertising ecosystem which leverages blockchain technology. BAT basically stands for Basic Attention Token.
As a brief overview, end-users are rewarded with BAT (a cryptocurrency) for viewing ads in the Brave Browser. The amount of BAT awarded for viewing ads is equivalent to 70% of the ad revenue that Brave earns from advertisers.
Additionally, in the BAT-based ecosystem, a lot of noise is cut out as advertisers have a shortened route to end-users.
All in all, the BAT ecosystem is a win-win situation for both advertisers and end-users. Furthermore, end-users can also use the BAT they earned to support their various content creators. I will elaborate more about this in another post.
Why I switched to the Brave browser
Having briefly looked at what the Brave browser is all about, I will now highlight the reasons for my switch. There are three main reasons for it.
A less annoying browsing experience
Let’s face it, most of us would rather not have ads while doing our internet browsing. This is why we install ad blockers on our browsers, to block out those pesky pop-up ad banners and Youtube ads.
With the Brave browser, I need not depend on a third-party program to block out ads. This is already done automatically by the browser. Furthermore, with no ad banners, I also get a much cleaner browsing experience.
While the ad notification pop-up may be relatively irritating at the start, I got used to it after a while. I also like the small amount of control that I have over the viewing of ads in comparison to having my browsing activity actively tracked by large tech companies.
Getting rewarded for everyday activity
Personally, I am someone that looks to optimise my everyday activity. Be it getting rewards out of my everyday spending, or reducing my payable income tax, I always look to positively gain from daily routine activities.
With the rewarding of BAT, the Brave browser provides me with an incentive for my everyday browsing activity. Furthermore, there is no additional effort required on my part to alter my browsing activity. Hence, I am literally being paid for browsing the internet, albeit it being a small amount. But hey it is better than nothing!
You might be wondering, how much can someone really earn from using the Brave browser? Well, it is a small but considerable amount.
Having been using the Brave browser for 2 months now, my earnings per month works out to around US$1.60. It should be noted that this value can change over time due to the market value of BAT.
Being a cryptocurrency, the value of BAT can rise and fall accordingly to market sentiments. However, since its launch in 2017, BAT has been doing quite alright in the crypto market.
The recent run-up in BAT’s price is largely due to the furore over cryptocurrencies right now.
However, I do feel that BAT still has some runway left to go before its price stabilizes. This is largely due to the increasing popularity of the Brave browser and BAT. Thus, I am quite optimistic that the price of BAT will continue to rise in the near future.
What price would BAT rise to? That is a question that I honestly have no answer to.
Personally, I do not see BAT reaching the prices of Ethereum or Bitcoin. This is mainly due to the function and utility of BAT. If its price is too high, the BAT ecosystem would have a high barrier of entry to potential advertisers. This could then potentially cripple the BAT ecosystem, making it unsustainable in the long run.
If I were to make a wild guess, I think BAT would stabilize between US$2 to US$3.
A seamless transition
As Brave browser is built upon Chromium, it looks and function almost identically to Chrome. I also did not face any trouble importing my bookmarks and saved pages from Chrome into the Brave browser.
If I may add, I find the layout of the Brave browser, in terms of extensions and buttons, to be cleaner than that of Chrome.
All in all, if you are transiting from Chrome to Brave, there really isn’t much difference in terms of style and usage.
In my short time of using the Brave browser, I have been really impressed with it. From the way the browser functions to what Brave is trying to achieve with BAT, I can say that I am quite optimistic about the growth trajectory of the Brave browser.
However, it should be noted that the Brave browser is not entirely perfect.
From time to time, loading speed on websites with full-page pop-up ad banners can be on the slow side. Furthermore, ads shown via the Brave browser can get a little stale due to the limited number of advertisers working with Brave now. Nevertheless, I think these issues would be slowly ironed out over time as Brave becomes more popular in the mainstream.
Till then, I will continue using the Brave browser and slowly build up my BAT balance.
Do lookout for a future post where I will touch on how one can utilise their BAT currency. Also, let me know in the comments whether you would switch to using the Brave browser!