Sex on the blockchain: How cryptocurrencies are revolutionising the sex industry


By EDWARD WONG

Sex workers and porn stars are disrupting the adult entertainment industry by being paid in cryptocurrencies, and finding it’s safer and incurs lower fees. 

A Melbourne sex worker who goes by the stage name Maia has accepted Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for her services since she first set up her digital wallet in 2016.

Following the digital currency boom of 2017, Maia said she has seen an increase of tech savvy clients in their late 20s to early 30s who offer to pay her in cryptocurrency to spend the night.

“Your partner need not waste his or her time scouring over credit card bills and bank statements for evidence of monkey business. Your sins are digitally safe, unless your partner has access to your digital private keys,” she said.

Apart from ensuring anonymous private transactions, Maia said cryptocurrencies could help sex workers protect themselves and attain financial independence, instead of suffering discrimination from companies such as PayPal and Visa, which have closed the accounts of sex-related small businesses.

“It’s a huge victory against this medieval ‘sex tax’ many porn agencies charge adult performers, not to mention declined credit card payments and frozen funds,” Maia said.

“Credit cards affiliated with premium porn sites charge exorbitant transaction fees. A cryptocurrency payment system would reduce those fees to the point where these companies can no longer f— us with fees.”

Platforms such as SpankChain allow sex workers to charge clients in cryptocurrencies. Picture: SpankChain Facebook Page

New digital currencies – such as SpankChain – are appearing that aim to be part of this change, allowing transactions to be made privately without the need of a third party such as a bank, through a secure online ledger called the blockchain.

SpankChain charges webcam models a 5 per cent fee on earnings, compared to 30-50 per cent reporedly charged by traditional camsites.

Maia said SpankChain could help ensure sex workers were never denied fair payment.

“What happens if [sex workers’] payments get reversed because some high-profile client got caught with his pants down in the wrong place at the wrong time?” Maia said.

“What if some poor girl gets exploited in one of those infamous casting couches and doesn’t receive compensation for bodily fluids secreted onto her eye? At least with SpankChain, we can ensure these women’s labour rights are respected.”

Maia said Australia’s sex laws were comprehensive enough to ensure sex workers were appropriately remunerated and free from abuse.

“In Australia we have fully fleshed out laws to ensure that my privacy and safety is protected. I doubt if other countries have it as lucky as we do,” she said.

She said although platforms such as SpankChain might not have as great an impact in countries like Australia, they have the potential to fill a legislative void in countries with underdeveloped prostitution laws.

“They may not have laws to ensure that they are paid fairly, but at least the girls will get enough buck for their bang with SpankChain,” she said.

Later this year another cryptocurrency aimed at the adult entertainment industry – Intimate, founded in Australia – will be launched.

Despite the recent interest in cryptocurrencies, Maia said the steep learning curve of blockchain technology had prevented its mass adoption.

“I don’t see many girls accepting Bitcoin soon unless it’s as easy to use as mobile banking,” she said.