By Mahira Dayal | December 5, 2019
As a photography enthusiast, Yuriy Dybskiy had been thinking about how to make money as a creator. After working on projects tackling the challenge of creating a sustainable stream of income online, he took to a blockchain-powered idea: a browser with in-built micropayments.
Puma Browser is a privacy-focused mobile web browser which provides a new platform to pay for content and services.
According to Dybskiy, everyone uses a browser, but they don’t think much about them. As individuals are becoming increasingly aware of different companies’ business models and the safety of their information, Puma Browser aims to align with its users to provide a service without the disruptive advertisements and tracking that conventional browsers are notorious for.
“Puma Browser is a mobile browser with micropayments built in,” Dybskiy explains. “The long term goal is to create an alternative to advertising as a main business model for the internet, and to help people transact and share freely, while also protecting their privacy online.”
The company partnered with Coil.com, which allows users to sign up for a $5 monthly subscription — and gives them the ability to stream up to $5 worth of micropayments. While this is their only current payment option, Dybskiy says that there will be additional ways to pay soon.
The browser is unique because it focuses on empowering the user and distancing from invasive data collection. While other dominant browsers, such as Google Chrome, have recently proposed methods to cut back on infringement of privacy, their business models still rely heavily on advertising — and they need to know everything about their users to serve effective advertisements.
“There has to exist a company that supports people over advertisers,” Dybskiy says. “Because we’re not relying on advertising, we can protect your privacy and don’t need to know anything about you.”
The 6-person team took inspiration from Brave, a free and open-source browser which blocks ads and website trackers. According to Dybskiy, who never envisioned himself building a browser, Brave showed them that it was actually possible to step up and rise to the challenge.
While adoption and competition may be difficult, Puma Browser has received strong vocal support from the crypto community, especially XRP cryptocurrency advocates on Twitter. Their early adopters consist largely of people who care deeply about privacy, and those who are looking for an alternative to advertising for monetizing their content online.
Dybskiy notes some initial interest from game developers who seek a disruption-free platform.
“We’re also seeing some game developers poking around, because instead of having to interrupt a game or request in-app purchases, they can pay directly using micropayments. They like that model a lot, but it’s still early,” he explains.
As a participating team in the Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator’s Fall 2019 cohort, Dybskiy hopes to benefit from the program’s mentorship opportunities, which provide advice and support in pitching, strategy and product management. He is also interested in using UC Berkeley’s ecosystem for both talent as well and a pool of curious early-adopters.
Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator is an intensive joint-venture program launched by the Sutardja Center of Entrepreneurship & Technology, Haas School of Business and Blockchain at Berkeley to propel blockchain projects to success.