FINTECH: Crypto Browser Wars between Opera and Brave


Is it time for the Crypto browser wars?  The once beloved Opera browser is now a scrappy underdog. It holds a 3.2% market share today, behind Firefox at 5.4%, Internet Explorer at 6.1%, Safari at 13.5%, and Chrome at 55.2% . Those numbers could see some change, as Opera has just released a Crypto wallet built into the browser itself. This would allow users to interact with decentralized applications natively, store, send, and receive crypto and ERC20 tokens in the browser,  and does not require third-party plugins or wallets. For the mobile version, biometrics could function as a password.
The crypto theme for Opera seems related to its Initial Public Offering (not ICO, how quaint!), in which the company wants to raise $115 million. Of that amount, $50 million is set to be acquired by none other than hardware manufacturer Bitmain. As a reminder, Bitmain themselves had recently completed a $400 million series B funding round at a $12 billion valuation. While it’s hard to know exactly Bitmain’s motivations, reasons could range from in-browser crypto mining, to lowering the barrier to entry for crypto in general, to hardware devices. The other interesting angle is that this is a private company leading one of the most recent tech waves (blockchain) investing into an older software company from a prior tech wave (browsers). We expect to see many more such examples, as easy capital and high crypto valuations have allowed projects to amass war chests. Sometimes that capital is better spent on existing users and infrastructure, than building from scratch.
Such a project seems on a direct collision course with the Brave Browser. Brave had run a $36 million ICO last year in a proprietary token BAT, meant to replace the economics of advertising on the web. The browser blocks ads and third party trackers, but rewards users with BAT tokens if they allow advertising from permissioned publishers. It has amassed 3 million users and 18,000 of those publishers, of which 4,500 are websites and the rest are Youtube/Twitch creators. Rewards for creators on traditional platforms fueled by advertising are highly asymmetric, so perhaps a crypto-intermediated model will better fund web-native content. But even if Brave now has a well-funded Opera as a competitor, there’s finally a spotlight on this alternative model which empowers the user.


Source: Coin Telegraph (Opera Wallet), Finance Magnates (Bitmain/Opera), Opera Software, CCN (Brave)