Brave’s popularity has grown recently especially over its increased focus on safety and data privacy. However, a new scandal could halt that momentum in a significant way. According to reports, the Chromium-based browser, which provides data security as its most significant selling point, has been effecting redirect links to several crypto companies.
Linking to Exchanges and Wallet Providers
The wave of criticism came after Yannick Eckl, a Twitter user, flagged the company’s affiliate linking on Twitter. In a tweet, Eckl explained that he found Brave redirecting users to Binance with an affiliate link whenever users search for the exchange. As expected, the exchange gets a commission from every affiliate link.
So when you are using the @brave browser and type in "binance[.]us" you end up getting redirected to "binance[.]us/en?ref=35089877" – I see what you did there mates 😂
— CR1337 (@cryptonator1337) June 6, 2020
The relationship between Brave and Binance is quite extensive. Earlier this year, the browser announced that it had partnered with Binance to introduce in-browser trading. By integrating Binance into its suite, Brave allowed its crypto-loving users to trade their favorite digital assets via a built-in widget.
However, it would appear that their relationship spans more than just widget integration and seamless trading services. Soon after, crypto Twitter got in on the fun and began to unearth more affiliate links that Brave had implemented to drive traffic to several platforms. All the while, the browser gets a stipend for its work. Dimitar Dinev, the Managing Director of blockchain investment company JRR Crypto, explained in a tweet that he had dug into Brave’s GitHub page and found redirect links to the websites of Coinbase, Trezor, and Ledger.
Looks like it’s not a very isolated mistake. Brave also does this for Ledger, Trezor and Coinbase if you look in their Github https://t.co/8PpnlS5jAu https://t.co/JGQ7d23fer pic.twitter.com/keorBZiDJL
— Larry Cermak (@lawmaster) June 6, 2020
In response to the controversy, Brendan Eich, Brave’s chief executive, thanked those who had identified the issue and committed to fixing it immediately. He confirmed that the links didn’t reveal any user data to affiliates, in line with their privacy-centric approach.
Brave’s Sustainability Problem
Eich also explained that the company was trying to build a sustainable business. Essentially, that means having a steady revenue stream that can help the browser continue operations. The controversy has finally brought one of Brave’s most prominent issues; revenues. For now, Brave makes money predominantly through its ad rewards program. Users can choose to view ads from companies in exchange for rewards through the firm’s Basic Attention Tokens (BAT). The firm also gets a cut from ads.
While Eich explained that they’re looking into getting revenues from skin-in-game revenues, there’s a sense that even that will not suffice. Brave remains a business and will need to make money to continue its operations.
The challenge becomes even more daunting when you consider that Brave is treading an industry dominated by big tech firms. According to Brave’s most recent statistics, the browser now has 5 million daily and 15 million monthly active users.
However, the firm is still leagues behind its top competitors. Data from Statista shows that Chrome has 63 percent of the worldwide browser market. Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Samsung Internet, and the UC Browser round out the top 5, with 17.6, 4.3, 3.4, and 1.7 percent, respectively.
Most of these firms use ads and store information as they please. Brave, on the other hand, is hoping that customers will get tired of these companies’ antics and switch. Since Brave doesn’t make ad revenue, the firm is burdened with finding a suitable and sustainable path forward – at least, until a time when it can gain more market share.