Blockchain, the New Kid on the Adult Block

In my latest illustration, I feature ‘The Bitcoin Man’ referencing my earlier inspiration of ‘Satoshi Nakamoto‘, in a Hugh Hefner Playboy style, alongside with an artificial intelligence female robot.

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The adult industry is often one that escapes the minds of many when it comes to blockchain enhancement. Dating apps have enjoyed a resurgence through AI helping to drive innovation in their offerings, giving a broader spin to social networking.

Blockchain and the sex industry have numerous overlaps as both industries are steeped in controversy. From audits on their revenue models and payment services, lapses in regulation to unclear grey areas over trust and privacy, both the adult industry and blockchain will undoubtedly see more synergy in their systems. In tandem, blockchain can closely guard against indiscriminate or fraudulent behaviour, shift the way e-commerce is done and potentially transform the behaviour of people that operate in them. Be it services covering escort, shows or clubs or products that includes sex tech and porn, the adult industry is one that is rife with innovation potential.

According to Leah Callon Butler, founder of intimate.io, she observes marketplaces are gravitating towards “a redistribution of power and influence”. Butler observes the blockchain industry to be “severely underserved with a plethora of unrecognised market segments.”

Here, we argue closely what these gaps in “power and influence” are and the commercial and ethical issues it begs the questions of.

Blockchain can help elevate standards in the sex industry, giving it the clout needed to be a more transparent, organised and consistent space.

Protecting health and rights of sex workers

“Too pimp-like and not too safe to use” was how one sex worker described her experience after using the Pink Date app, regarded as the “Uber of escorting”. For those seasoned in the sex industry, numerous issues abound from this project, including discrepancy with fees to sex workers not getting fair representation. Robin Attig, CEO of the rival crypto startup Lovr, told CoinDesk that escorting platforms which don’t require medical checkups and sufficient client screening are “highly illegal” in jurisdictions where escorting itself is legal, such as Germany, where his firm is based.

Protecting the identities of the vulnerable including immigrants, rural children or the undocumented

U.N. Office for Project Services (UNOPS) blockchain adviser Yoshiyuki Yamamoto believes “blockchain could be used to give them paperless identification documents based on biometric data, such as fingerprints or facial scans, which would be impossible to fake”. A partnership between UNOPS, the World Identity Network (WIN) and other U.N. agencies was created, focusing on blockchain as a tool to fight human trafficking.

Countries like Moldova are also looking to blockchain technology for its useful identification methods, as an estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide are unable to prove their identity. The problem with invisible people is far worse in developing countries, and Moldova, being Europe’s poorest country, is no exception.

Experts say rural children are particularly susceptible as they often don’t hold any form of identification, making it easy to smuggle them across borders with fake documents and concealing them from being identified by authorities. In Southeast Asia alone, 24 million children are unregistered. In Sub-Saharan Africa, its nearly 20 million children. Combined, nearly 30% of children do not legally exist in these two regions.

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The illustration is stylized in a cyberpunk, futuristic style, with neon colors, and huge billboards with the words – BITCOIN, – ビットコイン, CRYPTOCURRENCY, and 暗号通貨.

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Tokenisation of sex services and smart contracts for dating

Tokenisation has seen unprecedented adoption in blockchain, particularly when it comes to FinTech and even e-citizenship in nation-states such as Estonia. One such feature, ‘Lust’, on the initial blockchain public offering, uses smart contracts to shield identities of workers. This prevents them from being shamed publicly or undue attention from law enforcement agencies.

Forging ahead with a decentralised market for sex services, which may be desired in countries with strict regulations.

A decentralised end-to-end booking system will be revolutionary and the first-in-line for the sex industry. Similar to riding, homestays or accommodation apps, some foresee a safer and cohesive booking process for the adult industry. 

GGC, Gingr’s native token will allow sex workers to easily verify transferable funds. Through the compatibility with a broader range of services and subscriptions, many argue gingr is bringing a simpler and more secure process from dates, paid intercourse services to sex-related therapy.

Prevent market monopolisation of pornography and allow sex workers to gain financial transparency through having accredited taxation, invoice systems and credit cards

Blockchain and its systems and support provide an avenue for sex workers to have more direct control over their money. “Having a bitcoin wallet would allow workers to have more control over their money,” reads a post by Bits and Chains. “Bitcoins and cryptocurrency would make it harder for pimps, and brothels, or the government to siphon off wages gained from prostitution.” The report also notes that Bitcoin has been a financial tool for the homeless population and other demographics who are not part of the “formal” economy for some time.

A sex worker in Melbourne observes, cryptocurrencies could help sex workers with the bandwidth to protect themselves and attain financial independence. Often the marginalised group is exploited by payment giants including PayPal and Visa, which have closed the accounts of sex-related small businesses.

Incentivising users to create a better experience

The value of each user’s  behavior can be quantified through blockchain, preventing any unjust or gross behaviour. Founder and CEO Reuben Coppa cited the case of escorts, who “right now, rely on phone calls and the tone of text messages” to determine whether an interaction with a client will be safe. “By applying something like an Uber or Airbnb rating, they could make behaviour better,” he told Bloomberg.

Other apps, designed to incentivise and shift consumer behaviour, include Okoin and Vicecoin. For entirely anonymous adult content distribution, Okoin positions itself as the first decentralised blockchain-based virtual reality platform. For Vicecoin, a video-based adult entertainment platform, the opportunity to select content by adding, viewing or curating content is key, using cryptocurrency.

Currently, because of educational barriers and the high volatility of cryptocurrencies, blockchain has yet to penetrate the mainstream bulk of industries. However, this could possibly change swiftly in the adult industry, thanks to SpankChain, Intimate.io and Gingr, which are transforming the way adult content is consumed and purchased.

With the assurance of cutting-edge technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrency, tomorrow’s sex industry could be a safer, progressive and transparent one for all.

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