Brave vs. Coil: The Battle for the Next Monetization Paradigm | Part 3 of Exploring Blockchain

So far in this series, I've explored the idea of blockchain and how it can impact the world.

In Part 1, I looked at how previous advances in tech recently were popularized by instituting paradigm shifts in user interactivity that allowed those users to do tasks far easier and faster than before. In the same way, I believe that, if blockchain technology is going to go mainstream, it would need this same paradigm shift to gain traction with average users.

In the second part, I looked at the core of what blockchain tech is, and explored both failed and future potential use cases which could leverage its strengths and weaknesses to provide good products or services.

Today, I want to come back to the idea of blockchain as the best gateway for merging financial services and web-based content creation. I want to narrow down to two specific services—Coil and Brave—which (in my mind) compete for the next shift in monetizing creative web content, and see how they stack up against each other.

Note: I have talked about both of these platforms before, so some of this may be a recap. If you want to skip the recap, go to the section titled, “Coil vs. Brave”

The Current Problem

To be sure, web monetization is in a troubling place. I've talked about this before, but to summarize, the current centralized nature of Internet monetization has led to a lot of problems. From Youtube to Facebook to Patreon and even to PayPal, all of these platforms have revealed themselves to be unreliable as unbiased platforms or intermediaries for financing creativity.

Even banks are joining in.

In divine-like timing, it seems blockchain has risen to become a (palpable) solution to this problem. Unlike these other services, most blockchain projects are decentralized, so no one can shut down your ability to be supported financially (at least not on the ledger). And while it is certainly possible that those in charge of current platforms using blockchain can try to stifle voices like the companies above (e.g. take content offline), it is infinitely more difficult to, as anyone can still take payments from others even when such measures are taken.

And so, enter Coil and Brave.

The Contenders

I want to make clear that, though I do see Coil and Brave as competitors, I don't see the need for a single one to succeed while the other falls into abysmal failure.

Just as Microsoft and Apple grew up side by side, as did Amazon along with Google, and Facebook with Youtube, I can certainly imagine a world where both Coil and Brave succeed. This is because, as in the above examples, both parties, while tackling similar problems, go about doing so in different ways. And since the world is made up of billions of unique individuals, it is certainly possible that different people will require the unique interactions each of these services provide.

So what is it that these two compete on?


Let me quickly talk about Coil. Since this is where this blog is being hosted, I'd expect most people reading to not need much of an explanation for how it works, so hopefully this is short and sweet.

As per Coil's about page, Coil's predominant goal is to change the way content monetization is done on the web. When someone subscribed to Coil (by paying into its monetization platform every month), whenever they view content that is linked to Coil, as long as the viewer is using a browser that supports the Coil extension, the creators of that content receive payment via micro-payment streaming.

And there are several outlets. There is the Coil blog platform, where bloggers can post. There's also Cinnamon, which is a video sharing site similar to Youtube. But then there's also Twitch, Youtube, and other sites that are already used widely around the Internet. You can even add Coil's service to your own website by copying and pasting a small bit of code. By simply connecting Coil to these other sites or accounts, and anyone subscribed to Coil and has the extension will stream payments to the creator when they visit.


Brave goes about monetization slightly differently. The team behind Brave is focused on privacy and security on the web. Because of this, they've developed a web browser (called Brave) which has automatic Ad-blocking as well as disabling of the majority of third-party cookies.

However, since web monetization relies heavily on ads, Brave has its own form of adverts. People and organizations can buy ads from Brave, and these ads get sent to users of the Brave browser in the form of notifications. The users who click on these ads receive a small bit of compensation in the form of BAT crypto tokens.

Critically, because users can opt-in or opt-out of the adverts, only users who want the adverts have to experience them. However, from my experience and (admittedly unscientific) search online, a large part of the user-base actually opt-in. In fact, it's not hard to search reddit and find posts where Brave users are happy when they receive ads from the platform. This is probably because, whether intended or not, the Brave team has instilled a more tangible way of rewarding customers for viewing ads, rather than pestering you for your money.

Furthermore, creators can take advantage of this new method of reward as well. Similar to Coil, users of Brave can sign up for a Brave Creators account and attach their accounts for Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, Reddit, and other prominent sites (including your own website). When Brave browser users visit those sites, they can “tip” creators with the BAT tokens they've earned (similar to how XRPTipBot works on Twitter and Reddit). Users can even turn on auto-contribution, which works to give automatic tips at some point in the month to every eligible site visited, based on frequency and length of attention.

Coil vs. Brave

So how have these two fared in the grand scheme of things?

For Coil, it is difficult to tell, since they do not advertise creators or affiliates much at this point. Aside from Player.FM (a podcasting website), TheHardTimes (a satire news site), and a few others, there's not much I can say about how well Coil's partnerships and development has gone. Looking through Twitch, there's a pattering of gaming channels that are connected to it as well (including one of my favorites—BeyondtheSummit). And for Youtube, outside of XRP enthusiasts, I haven't found many users as well.

This is not to say that Coil is necessarily unpopular. But because there aren't any public trackers for websites and social media accounts attached to Coil, it's difficult to tell what's going on.

Brave, on the other hand, is quite vocal about its users. One only has to take a quick look at the website to see just how well the platform is doing for creators.

Overall, there are now around 600,000 creators verified through Brave (this means the accounts registered can accept and withdraw tips). Of that number, 90k have signed up just within the past month (as of this writing). A large majority of these creators are from Youtube (of course), but other sites such as Twitter and Reddit also have a ton of users.

And these aren't nominal users, either. Looking at the top Youtube and Twitter accounts that are Brave verified, they each have millions of subscribers and followers, and include the likes of Vice and Trap Nation. Even Wikipedia and DuckDuckGo are verified by Brave!

Now, it's important to understand that just because a user is verified by Brave doesn't mean that it's receiving a lot of contribution. Since the developers of Brave have prioritized privacy and security first, it's impossible to see what accounts are being tipped and how much they are receiving.

But because of the sheer numbers and stats available, I think it's safe to conclude that Brave is doing quite well, and growing month by month.

Currently, the Brave browser has around 12 million monthly users across both mobile and PC platforms. While it's obviously impossible to definitively know why Brave is so popular, I think I can make a few guesses.

First, Brave is popular because, as I said above, it rewards users. And they don't only reward creators. By simply using the Brave browser, I am rewarded with both good service (Adblock, privacy through disabling trackers, faster browsing speeds, etc.). And if I opt-in to Brave ads, I'm actually financially compensated as well. In a cynical way, the ads become a Skinner Box, where, the more I click, the more rewards I receive and the more rewarded I feel.

Secondly, Brave is extremely easy to use. The browser is simple and fast. I can connect my Brave account to most of my current social media and sharing accounts (heck, it even hooks into your Vimeo account). And doing so doesn't require much energy. And the browser itself tells you how much you're earning every time you open a new tab (again, a Skinner Box).

Third, the team behind Brave is extremely active in supporting and caring about both its end-users and creatives. They have a support forum to help new users and creators. They have been active in buying back BAT tokens (more than once) to distribute to the community (which additionally helps keep the prices from free-falling). And, at least on the surface, constantly updating and making their software better, while being really open about it.

It's also easy to see how the Brave browser has come at an almost perfect time when everyone is becoming more and more weary of Big Tech and its encroachment on privacy and security. While we have certainly all benefited from the computer and Internet revolution the past couple decades, it seems the centralized nature of tech so far is making everyone very uneasy. And just as polities have decentralized across time (at least ones that work well for the benefit of people in general), it seems that decentralizing reckoning is coming at last to the technology space.

Final Thoughts

It might seem like, given the praise for Brave above, that I believe Brave is doing vastly better than Coil. However, as I've said before, since we don't have any real public statistics for Coil, there can't really be a true comparison.

But it seems to me that Coil's strategy is fundamentally different than that of Brave. While Brave seeks to cast a vast net over as many users and creators as possible, Coil's strategy seems more to be along the lines of having key partnerships with organizations or people in a bid to build better monetization for the web.

In this light, it would be more apt to look back at Microsoft and Apple's competition in the early days of the PC revolution. Whereas Microsoft sought to distribute their software on as many hardware platforms as possible, Apple instead attempted to build everything in-house, and when they couldn't, they were extremely selective about who and what they partnered with to achieve their goals.

And in the end, both companies are thriving today. Apple is known for their innovation and products with extremely high customer satisfaction and retention. Microsoft is still a ubiquitous presence, no matter what part of the computing world you're in. In the end, it was their competition with each other that drove them to build the better world we are now familiar with. In the end, their bet on simple or streamlined user interface design along with paradigm shifts to help consumers get what the need done in a faster and far more efficient way paved the way to the success of tech that we see today.

And so we've come full circle.

But it's not the end. After all, we're all just getting started with blockchain tech and decentralization. And certainly, many other monetization concepts and ideas will pop up eventually. I'll be posting more on this topic in the future. But for now, I'm excited to sit back and see where this all goes.

Have a great week!

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