Over the course of December, the crowdfunding platform Patreon became embroiled in controversy after executing a wave of user bans and attempting to make changes to its fee model. These decisions have driven away donors and recipients alike, and as former Patreon users search for an alternative, some members of the crypto community are proposing a solution.
BAT to the Rescue
One of the top contenders in this area is Brave Rewards, a service that allows users to donate Basic Attention Tokens to content creators. It is similar to Patreon’s subscription model: essentially, users get to choose which creators or publishers they want to tip.
“We should let upset Patreon users who want to donate to their YouTubers know that there is an alternative…We’ll see more of the traditional model falling over time as well. Some things are just unsustainable, and BAT/Brave are positioning in advance.”
Although Patreon has now walked back its fee changes, the sentiment endures. Brave and the BAT Project have always been vocal about reforming the ways that creators, advertisers and consumers earn revenue. In addition to promising better financial incentives, Brave also promises privacy and transparency, especially in its advertising practices.
But is Brave truly cut out to be a Patreon replacement?
Surprisingly Similar Platforms
In some regards, Brave is leading an online content revolution. However, it also shares a number of less-than-impressive characteristics with Patreon. Despite Patreon’s supposedly high fees, Brave Rewards and Patreon have identical base fees: each service takes a 5% cut of creator earnings. Additional processing fees on each platform can vary depending on how users transfer their earnings, meaning that neither platform is cheaper in an absolute sense.
Brave also maintains significant control over the Brave Rewards program, albeit less control than Patreon holds over its users. Brave cannot control the BAT tokens that are held in any wallet, but Brave does perform KYC checks before distributing payouts. Although this is usually done to cut out fraudulent websites, it does give Brave a great deal of control, and users have already made complaints about clawbacks of unclaimed funds.
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Can Brave Beat Patron?
The issues above may be cause for concern, but they are not entirely damning: Brave remains quite highly regarded. The BAT token also has a sizeable market that is steadily growing, although that market is significantly smaller than Patreon’s market. Currently, BAT’s entire fixed token supply is worth $171 million dollars, an amount that is approximately equal to what Patreon passes on to its creators every year.
Additionally, measures are in place to ensure that BAT tokens circulate within the Brave ecosystem, meaning that BAT tokens do not necessarily need to be worth a lot in order to succeed. These measures also mean that potential donors do not have to dig into their wallets to donate — instead, they can earn BAT tokens by viewing ads, which can in turn be donated to content creators.
A more important measure of success may be user count, where Brave is somewhat in line with Patreon’s numbers. Patreon has about 130,000 users receiving donations, while Brave has about 35,000 verified publishers receiving tips — a fairly respectable ratio, although it is possible that many Brave publishers are fake sites.
Numbers aside, Patreon’s controversies will give Brave an interesting opportunity to seize, something that it has proven capable of doing in the past. When YouTube demonetized users in 2017, Brave quickly added BAT support for YouTube users. Recent events could offer another opportunity for Brave to onboard new users, primarily through promotion on social media.
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