Flattr vs Brave Payments, comparing microtransaction service fees

There was a surprising amount of interest in last month’s article where I discussed the fees for the microtransaction service Flattr and compared them with the fees at Patreon. I’m following up that article by comparing Flattr to Brave Payments, a service who is a service that more closely is trying to compete with Flattr.

Brave and Flattr are two services that both want you to voluntarily pay a monthly fee to fund the web’s many creators and publishers. Each promise to automatically divide up your monthly subscription fee and share it among the creators and website you’ve spent the most time with in your web browser.

There are two main differences between the two services:

  1. Brave Payments is limited to only pay out per domain (e.g. medium.com) whereas Flattr can reward individual creators on many platforms for sharing creative works (YouTube, Medium, Vimeo, GitHub, SoundCloud, Twitch, etc.) in addition to pages with a special meta tag and domains.
  2. Brave Payments only work with its own crypto-currency whereas Flattr works with regular credit cards and good old fashioned money.

Brave Payments have moved away from its reliance on Bitcoin and instead focus on their own Basic Attention Token crypto-currency/token. That is to say, you can still fund your contributions on Brave with Bitcoins – but they’ll be automatically converted to BAT at a transaction fee. Calculating transaction fees for Brave can be hard as it’s so damned difficult to give them any money. I’ve chosen to use a credit card payment through Brave’s recommended crypto-currency market Uphold for the fee calculation examples below. This is the most convenient method for making payments using Brave and also the same method as Flattr uses.

Fees for microtransaction services
Service Payment Fee estimate Paid to creators
Brave (Uphold) 5 USD (one-time) 3,57 USD (71,40 %)1 1,43 USD
Flattr 5 USD (5 USD/monthly) 0,825 USD (16,50 %)2 4,175 USD
Brave (Uphold) 50 USD (prepaid 10 months) 7,08 USD (14,16 %)1 42,92 USD
Flattr 50 USD (5 USD/monthly) 8,25 USD (16,50 %)2 41,75 USD

So there is something strange going on with Brave Payments through Uphold. Their fee structure clearly isn’t meant for microtransactions. Uphold, the currency exchange service recommended by Brave, requires a minimum credit card transaction of at least $50 USD or 75 EUR.

If we break down the fees that Brave and Uphold charge; we find conversion, transaction, and withdrawl fees from Uphold of 1 % + $2,99 USD + 3 BAT3 + 1,95 % and finally the 5 % fee charged by Brave. This fee structure explains the lower costs at higher transfer amounts.

In comparison Flattr keep 7,5 % for themselves plus a flat 9 % transaction fee, which works better for smaller amounts but adds up for higher amounts. You can play with the figures yourself and see how much each flattr is worth and how much you’re paying in fees with the Flattr contributor-value and fee calculator.

The longer time commitment and initial cost to adopt Brave Payments can be off-putting compared to Flattr’s smaller monthly payments. The volatility of crypto-currencies doesn’t really fill me with confidence when it comes to prepaying for services almost a full year in advance. It’s much harder to accurately predict the exact value your payments will have to creators and publishers when using Brave as your $50 USD today likely won’t be worth $50 USD in ten days – let alone ten months.

I made a fee calculator for Flattr in a couple of minutes. However, I wouldn’t even attempt to create such a calculator for Brave Payments as there are too many variables and too much uncertainty involved in their payment scheme.

Despite Brave being slightly cheaper in the long run, I’d recommend that people use Flattr instead. You’re paying a little extra for the convenience of using a credit card and predictable payment terms, but you’re also getting a service that is more flexible and can benefit more creators and publishers than Brave. Plus, you get to keep your existing web browser instead of having to switch to the Brave browser.