The Mutually-Beneficial Future of Reader-Incentivized Media

Decrypt’s Reader Token is a brilliant evolution that the news industry would do well to embrace

Adam Prescott
This Crypto Life
Published in
4 min readApr 5, 2021

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Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash

Last month, I wrote an article about Brave’s Basic Attention Token and the possibilities its model holds for big media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post. Today these companies use annoying paywalls to encourage readers to subscribe. They broadcast headlines to news aggregators, but when you click, you can’t read the article until you subscribe.

The reason behind the paywalls makes sense. Writers and their employers need to be paid, and, generally, the internet of yore provides two ways for generating revenue: ads and subscriptions. You either monetize your traffic, so advertisers are willing to pay you or collect money from users directly in place of the ads.

There’s a problem with both of those models, though. In both cases, the reader/customer/consumer is the essential resource, and they’re completely cut out of the revenue stream. Rather than valuing and rewarding their choice and attention, media companies focus solely on profit. Traditional media is struggling because there’s so much choice, and people will often gravitate toward high-quality free options rather than pay or put up with ads.

This is where the Basic Attention Token, or BAT, is such a novel idea. Essentially, advertisers pay Brave, and Brave passes a portion of the proceeds to its users, who opt-in as willing participants in the Brave Rewards program. They’re happy to view ads because it benefits them. Instead of installing ad-blockers, Brave’s users are cranking their “ads per hour” setting to the max!

A similar concept has been implemented by the cryptocurrency-focused online magazine Decrypt. Two weeks ago, they unveiled the Decrypt Reader Token.

It’s similar in concept to BAT. Users are rewarded with DCPT for reading, sharing, and reacting to articles in the Decrypt app. Users are limited to earning just 20 tokens per day. The tokens have no monetary value, and they can’t be withdrawn. I’m not sure Decrypt knows exactly what the tokens will be used for, but they have a rewards store where DCPT can be exchanged for limited-edition NFTs and presumably…

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