Another Porn Site Lets Customers Pay With Crypto
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Another Porn Site Lets Customers Pay With Crypto
04.11.2019

Porn site CamSoda, a platform for cam models, announced on April 9 that it has begun accepting cryptocurrency payments from viewers. People looking watch live porn on the platform can now pay in bitcoin, ether, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Tron, Monero, and Zcash.

This is yet another example of how cryptocurrency is actually being used in the adult industry—unlike most other industries that talk about crypto use. Pornhub, the biggest porn site of all, has been accepting crypto in exchange for premium subscriptions since April 2018, for example, and sex workers started taking bitcoin payments years earlier. CamSoda itself has been using cryptocurrency for a while—not to accept payments, but to pay the models who perform on its site.

“We’ve been paying our performers in crypto for I guess over a year now,” says the company’s VP, Daryn Parker, mainly as a way to avoid fees associated with sending money internationally. Though Parker says CamSoda pays some U.S.-based models in cryptocurrency, most of its crypto payments go to cam performers in Eastern Europe, specifically Romania.

“There’s a huge number of models in Romania,” Parker tells us. CamSoda pays its performers weekly. “Say you’re an independent model in Romania, and you earn $500 a week,” he says. “To get that wire might cost you $100 in fees, so it really takes a significant dent out of your work.” Sending cryptocurrency, meanwhile, costs just a couple of dollars.

While CamSoda covers some of the fees when sending international bank wires—up to $50, in some cases—international wires can get very pricy. Plus, says Parker, “the bank is probably going to give [the model] a poor exchange rate and will ding [her] with international fees.” There might be intermediary banks involved in the process that charge fees, as well.

“We believe crypto is the future. Not the near-term future, but the long-term future.”

How has CamSoda been getting crypto to pay its models, if the site’s only just started accepting it? The company uses a couple of different cryptocurrency exchanges to trade its cash for coins. Parker won’t say which ones, for fear that they’ll stop letting the adult site do business with them. This is a real concern for the adult industry, where the stigma attached to sex work prevents all kinds of institutions from wanting to be publicly associated with “adult” businesses. “In banking, it’s called reputational risk,” says Parker.

So far, the only cryptocurrency CamSoda has been using to pay models is bitcoin. “It’s the most popular, and people feel the most secure with it,” says Parker. When deciding which cryptocurrencies to let customers use on the platform, CamSoda largely went with the best known. The team added two “privacy coins,” Monero and Zcash, because customers had shown interest in anonymity in the past.

“A large percentage of our users use prepaid credit cards,” Parker says. Though prepaid cards aren’t entirely anonymous, since buyers have to register them with their social security numbers, such cards don’t carry their users’ names. They can “feel more anonymous,” says Parker, and that’s what seemed to matter to a lot of people. “With privacy coins we thought, why don’t we give people who are very private that option?”

The CamSoda team had also been getting requests “every couple of weeks, or every month or so” from customers wanting to pay with crypto. “We literally thought it would be one or two whales who maybe won [crypto] on a lottery site and would take $5,000 and buy tokens,” Parker says. CamSoda started accepting crypto several days before the company made its public announcement, so it’s been almost a week, now, since the option went live. Crypto buyers behaved differently from expectations.

“It really turns out that users want to buy just $50 or $100 worth of tokens,” says Parker. So far, cryptocurrency sales have made up less than one percent of CamSoda’s transactions, but it’s “higher than we expected,” says Parker.

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It’s important to put this one percent in perspective. Porn sites get millions of daily visitors, meaning one percent accounts for a whole lot of people. Let’s use a specific example. In December 2017, CamSoda released the infamous Bitcast, an app that connects the price of bitcoin (and ether and Litecoin) to sex toys. Sex toys connected to the app vibrate when the prices of these cryptocurrencies go up, so CamSoda viewers could turn on the app connected to vibrators being used by live cam performers. What with crypto winter only barely just giving away to crypto spring, you’d think no one would be visiting this app. You’d be wrong.

From looking at Google Analytics, Parker found it still gets around 15,000 hits per month. “We’re looking at, like, 0.0001 percent of [our] users,” he says. CamSoda’s one percent of crypto users, then, perhaps represents a more significant number of people actually using cryptocurrency than in any other industry.

CamSoda is using CoinPayments to process the cryptocurrency it receives from customers. “We’ve always wanted to accept cryptocurrency,” says Parker. “We agreed to accept it two years ago.” Like everyone else in the modern world, CamSoda just got busy—after all, it’s both an entertainment company and a technology company that also has to deal with contractors all over the world.

But CamSoda, Parker says, is “very bullish.” The company’s next crypto move, he hopes, will be to implement the Lightning Network so users can make faster crypto payments. Right now, processing crypto payments can take around 20 to 30 minutes, and porn, as Parker says, is an “impulse purchase.”

“We believe crypto is the future,” he adds. “Not the near-term future, but the long-term future.”