I'm sure many of you have heard the phrase that “a jack of all trades is a master of none.” If we look at the leading cryptos, we see that each of them has carved out a very specific niche for itself. ETH is the fuel for smart contracts and DApps, XRP (love it or hate it) specializes as a payments settlement mechanism for cross border transactions, BNB is the native coin of the Binance exchange, and Monero capitalizes on its status as a privacy coin. I believe that Brave’s BAT has a realistic chance of making it to the top 10 cryptos by the end of the year as long as it remains focused on its core competency of revolutionizing online advertising.
Please No Mining
I am writing this article after reading a previous article that showed that many Brave users want to be able mine BAT while they are away from their computer and unable to view ads. Before I begin this article, I want to make it completely clear that I am absolutely not criticizing the original author in any way - who am I to argue against another way to earn free crypto? Rather, I would like to submit two key reasons why I think giving BAT as a mining reward would inhibit the long term growth of the Brave project. Instead of simply saying NO to mining proposals, I also want to submit my own proposal for consideration.
On the surface, it's easy to understand why people want to be able to mine the Basic Attention Token. As crypto enthusiasts, we're always looking for a way to earn a little bit more crypto. Many beginners might not have the hardware necessary to mine Bitcoin (and other cryptos), and even if they did, the process could be too complex. By contrast, Brave is a simple, straightforward, easy to use web browser so it's natural to think that it would be a good entry point for mining crypto.
Supply, Demand, and Inflation
At first glance, it would seem that if you can mine BAT, you can increase the value of your crypto holdings because you have more BAT from mining. However, the economic laws of supply and demand tell us that as the supply of anything increases, the quantity demanded (and thus price) decreases. Depending on how the rewards for mining are configured, it is possible that the inflation of BAT could depress prices so that people are actually worse off after mining is implemented. Would the rewards from mining overpower the rewards from viewing ads? I don’t just want a higher number of Basic Attention Tokens in my wallet, I want a higher value of BAT in my wallet. I would much rather have 10 BAT valued at $.20 than 100 BAT valued at $.002.
As it currently stands, Brave’s focus is to revolutionize the existing Internet advertising ecosystem by ensuring an equitable distribution of wealth between publishers, creators, and users. BAT Facilitates this equitable distribution of wealth by rewarding users for viewing ads and rewarding content creators for creating. In contrast to many other cryptos that are simply backed by faith in the underlying network, BAT is backed by something of more tangible value - a user’s attention. If Brave were to enable mining, then BAT would be backed not just by attention, but also by mining power. If we allow BAT to be backed by the user's attention AND mining power, we are essentially debasing the value of BAT and inflating the money supply just like the fiat monetary system that we so strongly criticize.
The proposal to distribute BAT for both mining and attention reminds me of the “bimetallic” standard that the United States struggled with for decades. Under that system, gold and silver coins were both accepted as payment and were supposed to be exchangeable and fixed in value in relation to each other. However, the mandated exchange ratio often differed from the declared parity value which caused countless monetary problems for the country. I'm afraid that implementing mining would introduce similar problems to the basic attention token.
Right now, BAT represents and is backed by a user’s attention- it is a "gold standard" so to speak. Suppose that with 100 BAT, I can purchase 10 ads and show my product to 10 users. That is a clear, definite use-case example of why my BAT is objectively valuable. If mining were to be implemented, BAT would be given as a reward for viewing ads but also for mining, so it would be difficult to separate what proportion of each BAT is backed by mining and which proportion is backed by a user’s attention. Instead of my BAT being worth 10 views, would it be worth 8 views and 20 MegaHashes on the BAT mining network, or would it be a 70/30 split between views and hashrate? Mining BAT would add unnecessary complexity to a system that is already simple, understandable and efficient.
My Humble Proposal
In my personal opinion, Brave has huge potential, but it has to stay focused on its core mission of changing online advertising. I don't think that implementing “mining” will help Brave or even BAT holders in the long run. At the same time, I realize that many people (myself included) still have a desire to continue earning cryptocurrency even when they're not actively viewing ads. Instead of implementing some form of hardware-based mining, I think it would be much more beneficial if Brave implemented some sort of ad backlog that users could view once they got back to their computer. While a user was away from their phone or computer, they could accrue ads in some form of a queue. Once they returned to their device, they would be shown the ads.
Brave would have to design some sort of system to ensure that the queued ads received the same amount of attention as normal ads or else advertisers would be hesitant to sponsor ads that they knew had the possibility of being put into a queue that wouldn’t receive full user attention value. I'm not an expert, but I imagine there could be several ways that this could be implemented. Perhaps the user would be bumped up to a max limit of 7 ads per hour instead of 5 until they exhausted the ads in the queue, or maybe there would be a separate tab where users could view queued ads and manually click a quick checkbox to clear/view each individual ad. Either of these systems would still ensure that advertisers are getting users attention from the ads while also rewarding users while they aren't at their device. Remember, BAT is backed by ads and attention. If advertiser's don't feel that the ads are getting attention, they won't buy ads which will cause BAT to fall in price. Any "mining" system has to preserve the link between BAT and a user's attention.
The key to remember is that the Basic Attention Token has value because it represents the ability for advertisers to put their message in front of an audience. I completely support giving users new and innovative ways to earn BAT, but unless this new way BAT is tied to a user’s attention, then it will be inconsistent with the foundations of Brave’s mission. Brave is one of my favorite crypto projects, and I fully believe that it has the potential to break into the Top 10 cryptos by the end of 2020. We are almost there; lets not mess with a winning formula.
NOTE: As far as I know, there is no official word on incorporating mining. It is merely a proposal that was suggested in a survey, but I thought it was important to get ahead of the curve and open the debate.