Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is Brave Payments?

    Brave Payments is a payment system that allows Brave to truly anonymize the data associated with your browsing. This means that Brave does not know which Bitcoin wallet is associated with the lists of sites that you choose to support. In other words - you, the user, have access to your browsing report but Brave (the company) does not have that information.

    Brave Payments is more than an anonymization service. It is also the system that does payment reconciliation (makes sure that payments are processed correctly and securely).

  • 2. Do I have to pay Brave to go ad-free?

    No, you do not have to pay Brave to go ad-free, as we have a complimentary ad-free mode. We do encourage users to support publishers and their favorite sites via our paid ad-free mode, but welcome all user profiles to Brave.

  • 3.  How much personally identifying information does Brave Payments collect about its users?

    None, except for the unlinkable and optional step by a user who verifies their Brave wallet in order to receive payments. They would then need to create an account through our partner BitGo - in that case information such as email and phone number is collected and stored by BitGo in order to authorize your wallet.

    Brave Payments uses a technology called Anonize that permits anonymous-but-accountable transactions. Here's an analogy from the real world: someone walks into a polling place, identifies themselves, and gets a ballot and an envelope. They go into a voting booth, mark the ballot, put the ballot in the envelope, and seal it. They then drop the envelope in a ballot box. The people running the polling place and counting the ballots know that each person putting an envelope in the ballot box is authorized to vote, but they aren't able to determine which envelope in the ballot box goes with which person. In the case of anonize, a special branch of cryptography called "Zero Knowledge Proofs" are used to get the same functionality.

  • 4. How does replacing ads with ads help the user experience?

    We block trackers, that’s a big win compared to the status quo. We also block eyesore ads that won’t be replaced (think of those parasite pictures in image grids at the bottom of pages). We currently replace only certain standard-sized ads, and we aim for higher quality than what would have been served in those spaces. So we reduce the total number of ads experienced by the user and increase the quality and relevance, while simultaneously blocking trackers that follow your activity across sites.

  • 5. Are you using the "Acceptable Ads" model?

    There are two parts to that model, filter rules and business deals. Take the second first:

    1. We do not use the business model of taking annual fees from advertisers to allow their ads (and trackers for confirmation) to pass unblocked. Our business model does not couple our ad and flat fee based revenue to which ads we block.
    2. We do use some of the filter rules that are associated with “Acceptable Ads” to block known-bad domains and URL patterns; and to block and clean up after HTML-native ads.
  • 6. Do you require publishers to partner with you before you replace ads, or else block their ads?

    No, we block without reference to any business relationships, and our brand value depends on us doing so. We will not take “pay to play” money from advertisers or publishers, or extort publishers with blocking threats. Our goal is to make better revenue for all publishers, and give users better ads and control of their data.

  • 7. Why build a browser and not extensions for top browsers?

    Extensions face API and performance limits. Our own browser lets us put our best foot forward on speed and deep integration of private ad-tech. We may do extensions if our users find themselves browsing in other browsers often.

  • 8. Why aren’t you using Mozilla’s Gecko engine on laptops?

    We were, under a partially sandboxed, multi-process architecture called Graphene. But we did a careful head-to-head comparison and by every measure, Electron/chromium won. We wish Mozilla well, but as a startup, we must use all sound leverage available to us. For web compatibility and in particular Chrome compatibility, this means chromium.

  • 9. How do you relieve concerns that you are spyware?

    We use all-open source, and we welcome help in auditing our source and verifying our binaries on Debian Linux (verified binaries provably derive from a given version of open source). See https://brendaneich.com/2014/01/trust-but-verify/ for more on verified builds.

    Beyond this lower-level auditing, we will need partners to believe in our anonymous ad attribution and conversion confirmation system. More on this as we build it out in near-term milestones on the road to Brave 1.0.

  • 10. With whom are you partnering?

    BitGo for Bitcoin wallets and identity services. Fastly for edge caching of ads and our site content.

  • 11. How do you use Bitcoin (BTC)?

    We’re still developing the system, now entirely in the open source on github.com, but at this point we know we will use BTC only for permissionless payment delivery to user and publisher wallets that we will create using BitGo’s APIs. We hope to keep funds in BTC only in monthly payment buffers, to reduce effects of volatility. We intend to let expert users “bring their own BTC” to self-fund their wallets and auto-micropay for as much of their browsing as they like.

  • 12. Will you standardize your intent-casting protocol?

    We intend to when multiple partners in different regions have helped shake it out. It’s a capital mistake to standardize prematurely, so we must first innovate, deploy, and learn.

  • 13. Are all ads blocked or can users allow some or all?

    With blocking enabled, most standard ad sizes will be blocked/replaced. Users have the options to turn off both ad blocking and ad replacement. We intend to work with publishers to enable display of their direct-sold inventory and provide access to our private targeting system.

  • 14. Where will the replacement ads come from? In what way is this an improvement?

    Our browser-inserted ads will come from ad agencies and our direct partners. We have several advantages over traditional channels:

    1. The in-browser targeting engine has substantially more information about the user's activity available to it than traditional tracking methods, while simultaneously providing greater privacy and control for the user.
    2. We can provide access to all of the top publishers through a single channel with guaranteed “share of voice”. This combination of better targeting and first-look access to all of the premium placements our users browse is something that no one else can provide.
  • 15. The blog post mentions that ads are targeted based on browser-side intent signals. What are these signals?

    As mentioned above, the browser knows almost everything you do. It knows what sites you visit, how much time you spend on them, what you look at, what is visible “above the fold” and not occluded by opaque layers, what searches you make, what groups of tabs you open while researching major purchases, etc.

    Only the browser, after HTTPS terminates and secure pages are decrypted, has all of your private data needed to analyze user intent. Our auditable open source browser code protects this intent data on the client device. Our server side has no access to this data in the clear, nor does it have decryption keys. We do not run a MitM proxy or VPN service.

    We provide signals to the browser to help it make good decisions about what preferences and intent signals to expose to maximize user, publisher and advertiser value. Each ad request is anonymous, and exposes only a small subset of the user's preferences and intent signals to prevent "fingerprinting" the user by a possibly unique set of tags.

  • 16. What might you use the anonymized history data for?

    We hope to aggregate anonymized data across browsers to help improve the in-browser targeting engine, but Brave cannot receive cleartext data from any single user/device.

  • 17. Why doesn’t Brave block search ads, for example on Google search engine result pages?

    While we will block third-party cookies where you have no first-party relationship with the cookie’s domain, we don't block first party cookies by default. However, the Brave user will have the option to selectively block/enable cookies globally or on a site-by-site basis. Google will only have the ability to track you within their own domain and they won't be able to use that information to target you outside of google.com.

  • 18. Are there any other ads that Brave would not block?

    Our plan for the future includes allowing publishers to signal the browser in real-time when they have direct-sold ads that are worth more than what Brave can provide. The ads must be relevant and meet our general quality standards (non-intrusive, no trackers, etc…), but this determination will be made dynamically and will never involve any whitelisting fees. The goal is to maximize value while protecting user privacy and control. The user will always have the option to “downvote” an ad regardless of its source.

  • 19. Will Brave sell user data to advertisers?

    As earlier answers explain, we do not even have access to identifiable user data. The anonymized aggregated ad campaign related data we do collect is used for accounting and reporting, but this data cannot be mapped back to devices or user identities of any kind.

  • view Brave Payments FAQs