Developer Spotlight: Brave

by Solana Foundation

Developer Spotlight: Brave

In the ever-evolving landscape of decentralized finance and blockchain applications, developers are constantly seeking innovative platforms to meet increasing demands for scalability and efficiency. Solana is a high-performance blockchain platform known for its rapid transaction speeds and low fees

Brave, the privacy-focused browser with an integrated web3 wallet, embarked upon a journey to build a rewards platform directly onchain. Their goal was to compensate users with Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) for their engagement with ads seen within the browser and they chose Solana as the ideal blockchain.

For years, Brave's approach to its ecosystem has been primarily off-chain, relying on custodians for transactions. Recent developments have spurred Brave's shift towards onchain solutions, particularly with the launch of Brave Rewards directly on Solana. This transition indicates a significant step forward, offering enhanced scalability, global accessibility, and a more streamlined user experience.

At the heart of Brave's decision to embrace Solana lies the desire to overcome the challenges posed by custodial transactions, regional restrictions, and the evolving regulatory environment. By leveraging the cutting-edge technology of the Solana blockchain, Brave aims to usher in a new era of decentralized browsing and advertising, empowering users to have more control over their browsing experience while maintaining Brave’s core principles of speed, responsiveness, and simplicity.

Building Brave Rewards on Solana

Originally known as Brave Payments, the platform began using blockchain technology for transactions, initially based on Bitcoin. However, due to high fees and evolving network conditions, the team explored alternative blockchain solutions. In 2017, they adopted Ethereum because of its smart contract capabilities, which initially seemed promising for its low transaction costs. Despite early optimism, increasing fees made onchain settlements for Brave Rewards impractical on the Ethereum platform.

Solana was the solution. Brave turned to Solana not just for its cost-effectiveness compared to Ethereum, but also because of the thriving developer community, robust ecosystem of dApps, and efficient cross-chain bridges. By taking advantage of the Solana network’s fast finalization, Brave was able to execute decentralized payments directly to user-controlled wallets. This transition marked a significant shift from centralized custodians to decentralized onchain settlements, empowering users to utilize their rewards seamlessly within the ecosystem. Currently, Brave Rewards on Solana is an invite-only feature, starting with a limited group of early participants. However, Brave users around the world will soon be able to receive BAT earned from Brave Rewards to a self-custody wallet address on the Solana blockchain.

According to Christopher Nguyen, program director of Brave Rewards, the first aspect of the integration involved payout address verification. Users are empowered to verify ownership of their Solana address and link it to their Brave Rewards profile, enabling seamless monthly earnings transfers. This functionality extends beyond Brave Wallet to accommodate other 3rd party wallets. The second piece of the integration was the monthly distribution of Brave Rewards payments to users. Nguyen adds that “although the current fees are not expensive, lower is always better” and that they are exploring further fee optimization strategies like account compression to help solve the problem of high onchain storage costs.

From a project timeline perspective, Nguyen expressed satisfaction with the learning curve of Solana. “Normally, projects of this scale take three quarters,” he says. “We were able to do it in one quarter and feel pretty confident about it.” He attributes this quick ramp-up time to excellent technical documentation and the Solana community. 

Ethereum developers looking to make the switch to Solana should know that there are some key differences between the two platforms. There is a shift in account model design, with Solana featuring a parallel execution design that optimizes performance and reduces costs through program reusability. The local fee markets on Solana and Tower BFT consensus mechanism enhance transaction throughput, while its developer-friendly environment and diverse tooling support innovative, decentralized application development.

What’s next?

As Brave continues to innovate and evolve, building on Solana opens up exciting possibilities for the future of Brave Rewards. Brave aims to revolutionize its rewards system with the introduction of the Boomerang protocol. Developed by Brave's Research team, Boomerang represents a paradigm shift towards decentralization and privacy preservation in incentive protocols.

The Boomerang protocol, currently under development, seeks to move the entire logic of user interactions with Brave Ads onto the blockchain. Lukas Levert, product marketing manager at Brave, expressed “bringing a full advertising platform onchain” as being a long-term goal. This ambitious endeavor aims to evolve from sending payouts onchain to transitioning the entire advertising platform onto the Solana blockchain. Brave is exploring cryptographic primitives that could make executing this logic onchain more efficient and cost-effective.

Nguyen shed light on Brave's ongoing interest in Solana, indicating a mutual interest in “implementing bulletproof zero-knowledge proofs as native programs on Solana,” which, he notes, “would be great because it would make it much more efficient and cheaper to run.” Innovative projects like Boomerang find Solana to be the ideal network, offering potential efficiency gains and cost savings only possible on Solana.

This strategic move aligns with Brave's vision of providing a secure, decentralized, and user-centric browsing experience. By building on Solana and collaborating on groundbreaking initiatives like Boomerang, Levert reinforced that Brave “wants to be the browser of Web3, which means billions of people using our product. As we scale, we want to use the network that is going to scale to billions of users, and we love the technology Solana is building”.

Interested in discovering more about the move from EVM to SVM? Check out the Complete Guide to Solana Development for Ethereum Developers.

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