The adult industry appears to be waking up to the possibilities of cryptocurrencies, with dozens of sex websites about to accept Bitcoin and Ethereum for the first time.
Micky can reveal Australian sex industry start-up intimate.io will launch its first cryptocurrency payment gateway next week, with the service expected to roll out on the websites of 60 more partners in the first half of the year.
The company has already signed partnership deals with 47 adult sites and organisations including Sexpo, ClubX, Rendevu, the Eros association, and various pornography, adult-dating, escort, and cam sites.
Its representatives have been crisscrossing the world to promote the project at up to six international events a month, including appearances at this month’s Xbiz Awards and Cybersocket Awards in Hollywood.
CEO Reuben Coppa told Micky they expect to sign up “15 to 20 more partners off these latest events.”
Intimate is getting a good vibe
Intimate’s first payment gateway is scheduled to open on Smilemakerscollection.com on January 31.
Smilemakers sells – vibrators that have received glowing write-ups in Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire.
Intimate will enable the site to accept a range of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Binance Coin, along with intimate’s own token (ITM).
However, with the token yet to trade on an exchange, only those who purchased it during the ICO will be able to spend it.
Adult services ripe for disruption
Payments for sexual related services are seen as ripe for disruption for cryptocurrencies as payment processors such as Mastercard, Visa and major banks see adult sites as high risk and charge high commissions of 5% to 15% on payments.
Payments are often suspended without warning and chargeback rates (that’s where the buyer demands a refund) average 5%-10%.
From the user side, paying with crypto gives them anonymity and a distinct lack of embarrassing ‘Club X’ transactions on their credit card statements.
Since launching in late 2017, intimate has since become well connected in the adult world.
It was nominated for 11 awards at the ‘Xbiz Awards,’ the worldwide adult industry’s night of nights.
“Adult is the use case crypto has been waiting for,” he said.
“I absolutely think that’s the case and the more time that goes on, the more people in crypto agree with us.”
Porn coins consolidate
Intimate.io began at the same time a wave of other adult crypto startups emerged in 2017/2018.
“A few months after we started there was Jizzcoin, Titcoin, F***coin, Sexcoin, Pinkcoin, Kencoin and another handful of coins,” he said.
“All of those have disappeared.”
Intimate’s closest competitors are now PumaPay (a PornHub partner), Vice Industries Token (tagline: ‘Get paid to watch porn’) and Spankchain.
“There was a huge influx of crypto payments methods, but there are only a handful left. I think it’s now extremely difficult for someone else to enter the space.”
Last year, Verge famously partnered with Pornhub (along with Horizen and Tron), but the most recent figures suggest that less than 1% of payments were made to the site using crypto.
Credit cards remain much easier for the average person to use.
Coppa says the adult industry is a tough nut to crack and the first year of meetings after the company began “about 90 percent of people told us to go away.”
However, the company has slowly built up a reputation and is now seen as one of the more credible payment providers.
Porn can save crypto and crypto can save porn
While many think porn could save crypto, Coppa argues that crypto can also save porn.
“I think crypto will save adult,” he said, pointing out the huge amount of free porn has undermined the industry.
But he likens it to ten years ago when everyone was downloading movies and music for free.
Nobody thought people would ever pay for content again, before the arrival of streaming services that made it easier and more convenient to pay.
“Once crypto payments become standard – and on cam sites users are used to paying with tokens – people will pay for content and the content will get better,” he said.
Currently unavailable for trading, the intimate token (ITM) faces an uphill battle for adoption, but it has a good potential use case in that it provides both anonymity and verification.
Clients will receive feedback from those they interact with and develop a reputation score.
This will enable the other person in the transaction to trust them. On an adult dating site for example, both users may want to remain anonymous, but they also want to know that the person they are hooking up with isn’t a creepy weirdo.
“When two people arrange to meet for dating or going to a Swingers’ Club, neither might need to know the other’s name, but they do need to know they can trust them,” Coppa said.
He calls this ‘pseudo-anonymity” and it could potentially help ensure the safety of escorts, who currently rely on a phone call or the tone of a text message to determine if a client is ‘safe’ or not.
He adds it could also be used to anonymously verify someone has been recently tested for STIs.