Jeff mentioned this browser yesterday, and I had no idea what they were doing! I think this is definitely an improvement over the ad business status quo.
This article cites many of the same problems that Readup is addressing. But then the solution is really different. When Readup talks about "valuing attention", Readup talks about enabling deep, concentrated reading. When Brave talks about "valuing attention", Brave talks about you transparently selling your attention.
For me, earning 5$/month for ~5 random system notification ads per hour (source) doesn't seem like a good deal though. I value my attention higher! In some way, attention, like time, is invaluable too. A life where all your attention is sold to other parties does not sound fulfilling.
This reminds me of something I've read from Jaron Lanier years ago, where he suggested a user-controllable scale to decide to which degree one sells their data (& attention) to advertisers, but then for actual money rather than for "free" access to an online resource.
While donating BAT to creators is encouraged in Brave, there still seems to be a way to fully opt-out of ads using Brave. This effectively enables free-riding. But, how would an online world look where each creator automatically requires a certain BAT payment per consumed resource? Whether that's gained by watching ads or by paying hard cash? I think Lanier mentioned some implications on the rich/poor division. Gotta read that article again.
I have an above average interest in both web browsers and cryptocurrency, so I've been following Brave since its inception. It's a fascinating project, but I've never really used it, except for when I tried an early version of their Android browser for a few days. (I quickly got frustrated with it because it opened all new tabs in annoying floating bubbles along the edge of the screen. Not sure if it still does that.)
Like you, I don't find $5 a month worth constant annoyance. (Plus I'm very happy with Firefox, and I have ideological reasons to keep using it.) Also, I loathe ads, so I rather install an ad-block extension in Firefox than a browser which replaces ads with other (less annoying) ads. I do want to contribute to content creators and websites I visit though, so I have the Flattr extension installed as well.
Honestly I think Brave should have chosen a model where none of the ad money goes to the user, and most of it instead to the content creators and publishers. $5 a month isn't a meaningful amount of money for most people, and a larger share to publishers and content creators would have earned the company more goodwill. Plus, paying users to use your product is definitely an effective way to gain market share, but in my opinion it attracts the wrong crowd. I also think using a cryptocurrency for all transactions needlessly complicates matters. Good old fiat money would have made things easier for everyone involved.