Brave CEO Forced to Admit Platform is “Semi-centralized”

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Brave CEO Brendan Eich has admitted that both the Brave browser and the BAT token are “semi-centralized”, following criticism from Monero head Riccardo Spagni that BAT was “better done with a database” and that it was “basically the Mafia” in the way it handled token payouts. Eich, the former Mozilla CEO, admitted that the ecosystem did carry elements of centralization but that this is currently essential in the face of tightening regulations.

Fluffypony Kicks Out

Brave is a browser that encourages users to reward content creators by sending BAT tokens to them as tips, and was made to reduce websites’ reliance on advertising. Spagni, better known by his moniker Fluffypony, laid into the project on Twitter with a series of accusations that touched on the Brave business model, their ‘clawback’ system and the design of their blockchain.
In an interview, Eich responded to Spagni’s claim that external KYC checks on recipients went against the ethos of a blockchain by saying, “we don’t hand out free BAT when someone is trying to game this system. When people try to defraud the UGP…we flag those creator accounts.” This is perhaps an understandable measure the team has in place, given their model of handing out financial rewards.

Unclaimed Token Issue

Spagni also objects to the fact that Brave admins can take back ‘unclaimed’ tokens after 90 days of inactivity, and that BAT could be permanently confiscated if users are ‘deemed’ to be fraudulent. Eich responded by stating, “there’s nothing we can do to touch your BAT. BAT in a wallet you control cannot be ‘confiscated’.” He also defended the fact that Brave admins can take back unused tokens saying, “we’re not going to hold a potential grant in limbo forever waiting for it to be used.” Eich also confirmed that Brave doesn’t take tokens from a creator who has waited too long to complete verification, claiming that tokens for unverified creators sit for up to the 90-day period before being put pack in the group pool.

Centralization Concerns

Eich’s admission that the measures taken to protect defrauding of the BAT economy amount to partial centralization is explained with reference to the Brave roadmap and their future plans:

We will decentralize much of the BAT platform over time, but as our ​roadmap​ describes, not all at once and up front. That is neither scalable nor anonymous on today’s main blockchains. We will be adding [peer-to-peer] options in 2019, although they are not in demand with most creators. I realize this is maximalist heresy. It is true in our experience, anyway.

It’s clear that not everyone agrees with the way BAT is currently operating, but centralized coins have run alongside decentralized coins ever since Ripple’s inception in 2013. Every coin has different principles, ambitions, and mechanisms, so it’s understandable that they all operate differently. With regulations being tightened, it may not be long before other projects feel the need to employ aspects that are not wholly in-keeping with blockchain’s core principles in order to survive.