Basic Attention Token ($BAT) is a blockchain-based digital advertising and rewards platform powered by BAT, an ERC-20 token, and Brave, a new internet browser. BAT is utilized within this ecosystem as a payment token allowing advertisers, publishers, and users to spend, receive, and earn BAT, respectively. BAT eliminates the need for third-party tracking and middlemen by matching and delivering ads client-side, locally, and on-device. Basic Attention Token itself is the reward unit in this advertising ecosystem, which is exchanged between advertisers, publishers and users. Advertisers pay for their advertising campaigns using BAT tokens.
Brave is a privacy-focused, secure web browser that blocks ads and tracking by default. A Brave feature called Brave Rewards allows people who use Brave to contribute BAT to the sites they visit. When someone turns on Brave Rewards, their browser will tally the time and attention they spend on each site, and divide up that person’s monthly BAT contribution among the sites they visit. Brave Ads will allow people to opt in to earn BAT based on their attention. When someone turns Brave Ads on, their browser will begin learning their preferences in order to show occasional relevant ads as system notifications.
None of this ever reveals someone’s browsing history or preferences. Brave Rewards uses an anonymous contribution system so that nobody can work out who supported which sites — only the totals for each site. Likewise, the information Brave Ads to decide which ads to show stays safely on your device and is never shared with anyone, even Brave. And naturally, both these protocols and the code are open source and available for audit.
To address these issues Eich and Bondy outlined a new vision for digital advertising. With Brave they aim to fix the digital advertising industry through disintermediating middlemen, enhancing user privacy, and distributing economic value more equitably across the digital advertising ecosystem.
In January 2016, Brave launched the first version of Brave with a built in ad-blocking feature. With Brave user's browsing data is kept private, with third party trackers being automatically blocked. By August 2016, the company had received at more than $7 million in funding from prominent venture firms, including Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, Propel Venture Partners, Pantera Capital, Foundation Capital, and the Digital Currency Group.
The Brave browser's tipping feature initially supported Bitcoin; however, due to concerns over Bitcoin's scalability, the project pivoted to a new cryptocurrency that could meet the needs of the burgeoning Brave ecosystem. In a blog post released in March 2017 Brave announced a new blockchain-based digital advertising platform using an innovative Ethereum-based utility token called Basic Attention Token (BAT).
Just months after announcing the project, in May 2017, Brave launched BAT, selling 1 billion tokens in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), raising more than $35 million in just 30 minutes. The company set aside the remaining 500 million of the 1.5 billion total token supply for a user growth pool and development team pool. In early December 2017, the company disbursed the first round of its user growth pool grants to new users on a first-come first-served basis.
Since April 2019, Brave users can opt in to Brave Rewards, which sends BAT micropayments to websites and content creators. Users receive 70% of the ad revenue share as a reward for their attention, which they can auto-contribute to publishers under default settings. Brave can automatically distribute users' contributions based on how much time they spend on sites, or distribute users' contributions according to their choosing.
In November 2019 Brave launched Brave 1.0, offering Brave Rewards to fund the open web, Brave Ads to compensate users for their attention, and Brave Shields to block ads and trackers. As of February 2021, over 1,000,000 publishers were registered on Brave.
From a technological standpoint, Basic Attention Token doesn’t really have any special properties as it is simply a token using the ERC-20 standard that exists on the Ethereum blockchain. Since it is based on Ethereum, however, BAT benefits from the extensive infrastructure that has been developed for the Ethereum platform, including cryptocurrency wallets, decentralized exchanges and decentralized finance (DeFi) applications. The entire supply of 1.5 billion BAT tokens was created at launch – no additional BAT tokens will be created.