Brave's Android browser now lets you pay publishers

The Brave Rewards system lays the foundation for advertisers to pay you, too.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
Brave browser's lion logo

The Brave browser logo

Stephen Shankland/CNET

If you have an Android phone, you now can use it to tap into the Brave browser technology that blocks conventional ads but seeks to build a new system to fund website publishers.

The startup already launched its Brave Rewards program on personal computers running Windows, MacOS and Linux, but on Wednesday it brought the program to the  Brave browser for the Android mobile operating system. Among the browser's 5.9 million monthly users, 55% use a mobile version, so it's a significant expansion of Brave's core technology.

Brave blocks ads and ad trackers by default, but the company wants to build an alternative system for funding some of the commercial activity that finances website publishers. Its optional Brave Rewards system lets you send cryptocurrency payments -- in the form of the company's basic attention tokens, or BAT -- to website publishers, YouTubers and Twitch game streamers, though the latter category isn't yet available on Android. Brave's ad system later plans to pay Brave users, too, for viewing its privacy-first ads.

To sign up for the rewards system on Android, tap on the orange, maroon and purple triangle that's the BAT icon in the browser's address bar.

The 90-person startup doesn't have many users compared with the billion-plus who use Google's dominant Chrome browser. But its privacy-focused strategy, which unlike Google's ad business works even if its browser never shares a shred of information with advertisers and publishers, could appeal to people displeased by Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal and the countless data breaches that expose personal information.

You can buy your own BAT, but Brave also periodically supplies its browser users with grants that registered publishers can retrieve after monthly payments. And for test versions of the PC version of Brave, you can sign up to see ads that generate a small quantity of BAT. That's because Brave's ad system sends its users some of the online ad revenue.

The Brave browser's basic attention token (BAT) technology is designed to let advertisers pay publishers.

The Brave browser's basic attention token (BAT) technology is designed to let advertisers pay publishers.

Brave Software

The advertising part of the Brave Rewards system isn't yet hooked up to the Android browser version, though. It will be "in the coming months," the company said. And Brave Rewards for iPhones and iPads will arrive in the summer.

Brave Software's ads and rewards system uses cryptocurrency behind the scenes in a system that means user contributions are private and ads are targeted by the browser itself so user details can't be seen by advertisers.

It's not clear how successful Brave's system will be, but one publisher -- the Internet Archive, which operates the Wayback Machine -- said Monday it's garnered $2,500 from Brave contributions.