The gloves are off in the crypto community, and the bench-clearing brawl can begin. Monero Core Lead Maintainer Riccardo “FluffyPony” Spagni has spotted signs that Basic Attention Token is in fact centralized, a word which no crypto project wants to hear. On the Magical Crypto Friends show on Youtube, Spagni suggested that BAT, which is integrated with Brave browser, is centralized. Many dApps, he adds, are much more centralized than they should be.
Brave is growing in popularity and was recently named the default browser on a smartphone made by HTC. Users like it because by opting in the browser lets you “earn” BAT and share it with content providers; future upgrades will allow users to earn crypto by engaging with ad content. But this is where Spagni starts to swing.
As the lead developer for the dark web’s favorite privacy coin, Spagni observed that someone could game the system and only pretend to be engaging in content on Brave.
According to Spagni, Brave relies on something known as “proof of browsing,” which is a process to determine “what is true and what isn’t true.” On top of that, there’s a clawback that prevents participants from withdrawing their airdropped BAT tokens until they complete KYC and AML requirements. All of this control is what leads Spagni to believe that BAT is centralized, saying:
At the end of the day, it’s no different from a database.
Litecoin creator Charlie Lee was on the broadcast too, and brought up the fact that the only reason BAT was created was because no one would give the Brave team free bitcoin to airdrop.
For his part, Brave CEO Brendan Eich conceded that the browser is “semi-centralized” in an interview with Hard Fork. On Twitter, Eich acknowledged that a lack of bitcoin liquidity was partially responsible for BAT’s creation, as well as high bitcoin fees.
Lee said the Brave team was basically looking to “create money out of thin air so they can airdrop it.”
However, in a defiant response, Catherine Corre, Head of Communications at BAT, defended the project: “The statements [by Spagni] are grossly inaccurate. We regularly give out BAT grants to Brave users who can then use them to anonymously reward their favorite content creators via the integrated wallet in the Brave browser. These grants are not realized on the Ethereum blockchain until after anti-fraud checks and before settlement to verified creators. We do not and cannot touch BAT owned by users.”
Corre went on to explain that “Regarding paying to fiat, which is another topic, our roadmap and our white paper make it clear that no blockchain-based system can pay fiat without being semi-centralized.”
XMR Price Falls To A New Yearly Low
Monero is one of the most privacy-focused cryptos, for which AML and KYC features are considered a red flag. Not to mention the possibility that Spagni wanted to draw attention away from the XMR price, which has recently fallen to a new low for the year at approximately $41 on CryptoCompare. But as with many projects in 2018, the price is not necessarily an indication of activity surrounding Monero.
Switzerland-based Bity has announced that users can now buy XMR from its crypto ATMs with cash. One of Bity’s top selling points is that there’s no need to “verify your identity or register an account,” which reflects the features with which Spagni took issue, with respect to BAT.
Meanwhile, an app dubbed Bail Bloc openly siphons some of a user’s processing power and directs it towards mining Monero. Bail Bloc touts Monero’s features including “secure, private and untraceable.” The funds are then converted into USD and donated to an Immigrant Bail Fund “to post bond for people in ICE detention.”
Apparently you need a different BAT to knock off a few bails.
An email to Brave was not returned in time for publication. We will update the story if we hear back from them.
The author is not invested in any digital currencies mentioned in the article but does hold investments in cryptocurrencies.