Users of the Brave Browser can now donate cryptocurrency, including the company's Basic Attention Token (BAT), directly to YouTubers.
With Brave's update, however, views of YouTube videos no longer count toward Google's page views. Instead, the browser will start logging viewing time on behalf of the creators who made the content. Previously, the site only credited URLs specifically, so it couldn't track individual accounts on the video-sharing platform.
But "YouTube was squarely in our sites from the beginning," Eich told CoinDesk in a phone call.
In a blog post, the company wrote:
"Previously, YouTube creators could not be listed as individual publishers in Brave Payments. This change allows BAT contributions to flow directly into their wallets. The Brave browser determines the YouTube creator name from a YouTube video, no matter what site embeds it."
There are approximately 243,000 Brave browser wallets that have been opened so far, allowing users to hold crypto funds, originally bitcoin, for later distribution to publishers and video creators. But in order to create a faster, less invasive internet browsing experience, Brave held a $35 million initial coin offering for its Basic Attention Token (BAT).
Within the new version, Brave's wallets will hold either BAT token or bitcoin that can be used to donate to YouTubers, which could disseminate the cryptocurrencies to a wider user base.
The average funded wallet amount has roughly $45 worth of crypto in it, though this could be largely due to the growth in bitcoin's value after users deposited funds in their wallets. Older Brave users automatically have bitcoin as their default currency, but the company is actively working to get users to update their browsers to a new version that automatically converts funds to BAT.
And YouTube is just the beginning. Basically, all video sites use the same protocol, OAuth, to verify that publishers are who they say they are. Brave will be able to tap into that as well, in order to make sure it pays the right people.
Once it knows that process is working for YouTube, it can roll the payments out to creators on other sites, for instance Vimeo.
"This is an induction exercise. We're really trying to disintermediate the unfair and fraud-prone ecosystem," Eich said.
Should the system work, YouTube is likely an influential one to get right.
YouTube stars have incredible reach and influence with their followers, yet many of them have been dissatisfied over the last year with automated demonetization of their videos.
While Brave blocks YouTube ads natively, it will give videomakers a way to continue to use YouTube and still earn money off their videos, whether YouTube thinks the content merits it or not.
And at the very least, if some popular YouTubers start talking about the system, it will educate a lot of young fans about cryptocurrency and ad-blocking.
"We hope they'll promote Brave to their followers," Eich said.
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Brave.