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What Is Basic Attention Token?

Updated on April 3, 2018
EricFarmer8x profile image

There are many new blockchain related websites and services being released and Eric loves to learn about them.

The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is a project designed to change the online advertising model. How does BAT work and what does it mean for the average user? This article will explain what BAT is and what it is trying to accomplish.

The Basic Attention Token logo.
The Basic Attention Token logo. | Source

Ads Are Annoying

Many websites make money from online advertising and HubPages the website I wrote this article on does. Online ads when done right can be a good thing as they are a way for content creators to earn money and for viewers to access content for free. Ads can also go overboard and be annoying though, and this is an issue.

It is a fact that ad interaction is very low and it seems some business are in a race to display as much adds as possible thus annoying users in the process. Ads used to be quiet boring links of text and static images that sat there waiting for you to click on them. Now we have full page ads, ads that flash and move, ads that autoplay videos and play sound, pop up ads, and ads that expand when you accidentally mouse over them.

If there is one thing that turns me away from a website it is too many distractions. Because of annoying ads, I only browse online with an adblocker with many filters, and I whitelist websites that do not annoy me.

Ads Can Spread Malware

If being annoyed was not bad enough some bad people online love to use ads to direct victims to websites with malware and other nasty things. Deceptive ads disguised as fake download buttons are one dirty tactic some advertisers use. Malvertising is the word that describes what this is.

Is Basic Attention Token the Solution?

The Basic Attention Token (Bat) project plans to solve many of the issues related to online advertising. How do they plan on doing this and how does BAT work? Let's start by explaining who is making BAT.

Who is making the Basic Attention Token platform?

Brendan Eich founded The Basic Attention Token project, and this man has had a very accomplished career in the online world. He is the co-founder of Mozilla, and they make and maintain the popular open source web browser Firefox. He is also the creator of Javascript, and this programming language is an extremely popular web design tool, and almost every internet website uses it.

The rest of the BAT team also are giants in the online landscape, and they have worked on a diverse group of important projects. The BAT project has a great team behind it, and they are taking the project seriously.

What Is Basic Attention Token Used For?

Basic Attention Tokens are a way for advertisers, users, and publishers to better interact with other. Advertisers pay publishers based on user interaction and publishers to receive payments from users based on how active they are on their platform.

Users buy or earn tokens and then donate them to the favorite publishers or use them to pay for services and content. It will be interesting see what new websites offer as services for payment of BAT tokens. To better understand how BAT tokens work it will be helpful to have a basic understanding of Ethereum and blockchains.

This picture helps explain how the Basic Attention Token project works.
This picture helps explain how the Basic Attention Token project works. | Source

What Is Ethereum?

Ethereum is an open source platform that generates cryptocurrency and tokens. The original currency of Ethereum was Ether, but a dramatic event on the blockchain changed everything.

The Decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) was a computer program that ran a business. The way the DAO worked is somewhat odd and confusing, but they were a business to fund future projects, and the DAO gained funding by selling cryptocurrency in a token sale.

On Sunday, June 18th, 2016 an unknown hacker exploited code in the DAO to steal over $50 million dollars worth of Ether. Miners of Ether voted to do a hard fork to reverse this large theft of cryptocurrency. A hard fork is a huge change to the blockchain that reverses previous transactions and doing this creates a new blockchain the process.

The Ether hard fork created Ethereum (ETH) and original currency continued as original continued as Ethereum Classic (ETC). Right now ETH is the leading currency with a higher value and BAT is based on ETH using ERC-20. ERC-20 is a list of common rules all developers who wish to create blockchains using Ethereum must follow. The way a blockchain works is confusing under the hood but it not so hard to understand at a basic level.

The Ethereum logo.
The Ethereum logo. | Source

How Blockchains Work

A blockchain keeps records of all cryptocurrency activity and secures them with cryptography and cryptography in the modern sense is using technology to encrypt things. The blockchain acts as a ledger confirming all transactions and spending on the network. Blockchains use Peer-to-peer technology to confirm transactions and Peer-to-peer in this case meaning users of the blockchain help confirm transactions and generate new coins.

Miners are people who use their computers and specialized devices to run programs that solve complex equations and this activity generates and confirms new blocks. These miners receive pending transitions and work towards confirming them.

Once a miner solves an equation other miners on the network confirm if the solution is correct and if the transaction is valid. If the transaction looks good everything is recorded in the blockchain, and miners receive a payment of cryptocurrency as a reward after so many confirmed blocks.

Users confirm everything on a blockchain, so a centralized authority or service is not needed. Many new cryptocurrency based programs and websites proudly state they are decentralized.

Users can buy, mine, or receive cryptocurrency and tokens from other users. Users store cryptocurrency in digital wallets and wallets can be in the cloud, on computers, and even on smartphones.

You can store cryptocurrency offline, and this is called cold storage. You can store accounts on USB flash drives, hardware wallets, to be extra safe store your account on a paper QR code wallet.

You use the currency in your wallet to send and receive coins. You mostly at this point would be using cryptocurrency online and are there still are not too many businesses that accept cryptocurrency as payment yet but more are starting to accept cryptocurrency as payments.

My explanation just scratches the surface of what blockchains are and if you are curious about cryptocurrency research more into how blockchains work.

So what does any of this have to do with BAT? Well, I mentioned that BAT is an ETH token following ERC-20 rules. Let's go into that and discuss what this means.

Do You Own Any Cryptocurrencies?

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What Can You Do with Basic Attention Tokens?

First Basic Attention Tokens are not a cryptocurrency, and they are not meant to have a monetary value. However, despite the BAT team desires the tokens can be bought and sold on cryptocurrency exchanges for money just like other cryptocurrencies.

You store you BAT in a wallet just like any other cryptocurrency. The easiest way to store them is to use the wallet built into the Brave web browser. I will discuss using the Brave web browser in a future section but for now, know that it is the only current way to spend BAT.

Right now you can donate BAT to YouTubers and Twitch streamers you watch. In the future, you will be able to spend BAT on online services.

The Basic Attention Token wallet page on Brave.
The Basic Attention Token wallet page on Brave. | Source

What Is the Brave Web Browser?

The same team behind Basic Attention Tokens is building the Brave web browser. Brave is using the Chromium open source project, and Google Chrome uses the Chromium project as its base code.

The Brave Web browser comes preinstalled with an adblocker and popular security extensions. It had popular extensions like password managers, and HTTPS Anywhere installed by default.

Brave is currently missing the option to use themes and install the other extensions and, Brave does not have any type of web sync. The browser still needs some improvements, and future updates most likely will add plenty of new features.

Since Brave is based on Chromium using it feels like using an alternate version of Google Chrome. Brave performed just as I expected and there was nothing odd or weird. Even with some features missing currently, I can see me using this as a replacement for Google Chrome.

There is also a mobile version of the Brave web browser, and I currently use it on my Android phone. I feel like the built-in ad blocking, and content controls are even more helpful on smartphones. I love the Brave mobile web browser, and I would recommend it to people.

The Brave welcome screen.
The Brave welcome screen. | Source

How to get Basic Attention Tokens?

Right now there are three ways to get BAT. In the future, you will be able to earn brave by interacting with ads.

  1. Buy them from a cryptocurrency exchange.

  2. Buy them from the Brave web browser.

  3. Somebody sends some to a wallet address you own.

How to buy Basic Attention tokens in Brave.
How to buy Basic Attention tokens in Brave. | Source

Do People like Basic Attention Tokens?

The BAT is gaining support from people, and some big publishers are interested. Some YouTubers are interested in using the BAT project as it is an extra revenue stream for them. Twitch has added support for BAT as well and this another way for Twitch streamers to receive donations and make money.

I am sure there are people who do not like the project but for the most part talk about BAT has mostly been positive.

Will Basic Attention Tokens be popular and the next big thing?

I am not sure if BAT will catch on big or not, but I do know however multiple big publishers and content creators are interested and this is a good sign. I think if BAT catches on or not depends on if users are willing to donate money and if they are ready to use a cryptocurrency token to do this. I am OK with both of these things, but I follow cryptocurrency related ideas and products more than most people. I also wonder if publishers will incentivize people to spend tokens in a way that attracts new people as BAT is pretty open about what publishers can do here.

Another thing I think needs to happen for BAT to take off is support for other web browsers. Right now the project is just centered on Brave, and while Brave is good, most people are using Google Chrome. Having support for other browsers only will help the project, and I feel like at some point this will be needed.

I suspect the biggest issue here will the BAT projects privacy concerns as Brave will not connect to Google servers or services. If BAT doesn't support other web browsers, then the project's success depends on if people are willing to use Brave over other popular choices.

The BAT project has a long way to go, and its success also depends on if the project meets its goals and follows its roadmap successfully.

My Final Thoughts on Basic Attention Tokens

Overall I feel positive about the BAT project, but I do not think in its current state it is worth spending money on BAT tokens, and I am not ready to jump in and start using BAT just yet. I already support my favorite YouTubers using YouTube Red, so I am not too worried about that. I am curious to see what other publishers and content creators support BAT and this will be a big factor in if I want to buy BAT.

I am waiting for the futures update before I really start to use the Brave web browser on a daily basis.

While the BAT project sounds great and promises many things, it is my current personal opinion to have an optimistic but cautious approach to the project. I look forward to seeing and hearing more about BAT in the future.

Are You Interested in the Basic Attention Token Project?

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© 2018 Eric Farmer

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