Basic Attention Token (BAT) saw an increase of 12% today following an announcement by Coinbase that you can now earn $10 worth of BAT for just completing a tutorial. Coinbase said:
“We see these interactive, advanced lessons in cryptocurrencies and tokens as an important step toward building awareness and usage of utility use-cases in the crypto ecosystem–one where a beginner can quickly get up to speed on a token in a few minutes, actually engage with the product, and earn some of that token along the way.
We think learning about crypto and earning crypto is a great way to get people to evaluate and use more utility tokens without having to buy them outright.”
They have a tutorial for ZRX too, but that gives you only $3. So ZRX’s price proportionally rose by only 4%, 3x less than BAT, with ZRX being the 0x token that sort of runs a protocol for decentralized exchanges and value transfers.
There is no tutorial for ethereum, but eth rose 2% anyway, with just BAT and ZRX for now giving you for free a combined $13.
This appears to be an initiative by Earn, a company founded by Balaji Srinivasan which was acquired by Coinbase for $100 million back in April 2018 with Srinivasan becoming Coinbase’s Chief Technology Officer.
Earn initially intended to build a bitcoin computer for micro-payments and the internet of things, aiming to create toasters that mine bitcoin and likewise services.
That didn’t work out, so now they’re seemingly focusing on a simpler way to earn by completing tutorials with the general idea being for “earning to become an increasingly important function in the crypto ecosystem.”
BAT, User Growth While Price Falls
Like most cryptos, BAT has fallen and considerably so from close to a dollar with a market cap of nearly one billion in 2017 to now 11 cent and a market cap of $144 million.
In other measures BAT has seen growth, attracting five million users of the Brave Browser where BAT is to incentivize an attention economy.
The way that works is by the Browser getting rid of the publisher’s ads to replace them with their own ads. Users then have to opt in to see the adverts and for the inconvenience they get some tokens.
These users can then decide to give some of these tokens to whatever publisher they want with the browser having a default of automatically allocating the tokens based on time on the site.
The advertising model hasn’t yet quite launched as it remains in testing through a pilot. Once it launches, we can then better see why an advertiser would choose this platform rather than the ad dominating Google and Facebook.
A Poster Boy or an Unworkable Experiment?
The more fundamental question might be why should users be paid to read content others have spent time and effort to produce?
Users can choose who to pay, making the publisher-reader relationship quite different. That could make it an interesting experiment depending on how such relationship might change if it ever reaches any scale, but this is basically a browser with an inbuilt ad-server.
The token aspect ads some efficiency as you don’t have to sign up, but Google adsense requires address verification because otherwise it can easily be gamble.
Fake clicks, fake visits, link farms, and on and on, are complex problems. As is putting the right ad in front of the right person. All of it requiring far better execution than Google which has a massive advertising platform.
The execution might be in two ways. Users could be able to actually withdraw the BAT and keep it for themselves. In which case this is paying a consumer of a product, rather than the producer. Naturally an unworkable proposition because the production of something requires revenue, otherwise one can’t afford to produce it.
The other option might be to not allow withdrawals, in which case why would anyone opt in to see the ads? Out of good will, perhaps, altruism and so on, but that doesn’t work all the time.
There could potentially be a combination of it, allowing say 20% or 30% to be withdrawn, but how exactly this will be executed does remain to be seen.