Crypto fails sex workers

Crypto fails sex workers

The Financial Discrimination of Sex Workers: Exploring Crypto as a Solution

Sex Workers

Sex workers face a myriad of challenges, and one that often goes unnoticed is the financial discrimination they endure. From having their payment apps banned to losing their bank accounts, sex workers like Allie Eve Knox and Allie Rae find themselves ostracized from traditional financial services. But what drives this discrimination, and how are sex workers finding alternative ways to store their wealth and accept payment?

The experiences of Knox and Rae are not unique but rather representative of the struggles faced by sex workers globally, especially in the United States. Financial institutions, including banks and payment processors, shy away from the adult industry, leaving sex workers marginalized. While the precise reasons for this discrimination are rarely explained, sex workers suspect that financial institutions fear reputational damage and liabilities associated with money laundering or sex trafficking.

According to the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), a US trade association for the adult industry, two-thirds of sex workers have lost access to a bank account or financial service, while 40 percent have had their accounts closed within the past year. Faced with such challenges, sex workers have sought alternative means to store their wealth and receive payment. Cryptocurrency initially seemed like a promising solution, offering discreet transactions that bypassed traditional banking systems.

Cryptocurrency allowed for anonymous and direct payments from clients to sex workers, addressing privacy concerns. It also protected against chargebacks, a common problem in the industry. As a result, many sex workers, including Knox, began accepting cryptocurrency payments as early as 2014. Liara Roux, a former escort turned pornographic actress, also started accepting crypto payments in 2015, finding it helpful for individuals underserved by traditional banks. In fact, Sex Work CEO’s data suggests that at least a third of sex workers now accept crypto payments.

However, despite crypto’s potential as a financial solution, sex workers are encountering its limitations. While sending and receiving crypto payments is relatively straightforward, converting it into traditional currency can be problematic. Typically, sex workers transfer their crypto earnings to an exchange, where it can be converted to regular money and withdrawn to a bank account. However, sex workers are sometimes banned from crypto exchanges as well, leaving them with unspent cryptocurrencies that cannot be used for daily expenses.

Moreover, the increasing reluctance of banks to engage with businesses related to cryptocurrency further complicates the situation. SpankChain, a company that offered crypto-to-cash conversion services, was forced to shut down SpankPay after a payment processing firm terminated their partnership. WetSpace, an adult-oriented alternative to OnlyFans, faced numerous rejections from banks due to its ties to both the adult and crypto industries. Without banking partners, crypto firms are unable to accept deposits, convert crypto to traditional currency, or pay vendors and employees.

The personal and social consequences of sex workers’ lack of access to financial services are substantial. From everyday inconveniences, like splitting a bill using Venmo, to the inability to pay for essential expenses such as medical fees or rent, the effects are far-reaching. It also means sex workers are reliant on platforms like OnlyFans and Fansly, which take a significant portion of their earnings. Moreover, the dangerous power dynamics emerge when sex workers must entrust a friend or spouse with their wealth, exposing them to potential abuse.

The irony is that by discriminating against sex workers, banks inadvertently increase their vulnerability to sex trafficking. Traffickers often control victims’ finances, and the lack of banking access forces sex workers to rely on others to manage their money, putting them at higher risk. The sex work community acknowledges that crypto is not a panacea but recognizes its necessity in the absence of better alternatives.

Efforts to address the banking discrimination faced by sex workers require legislative change. Advocacy groups, such as the Free Speech Coalition, emphasize the need for laws prohibiting banks from discriminating against sex workers based on their profession. While progress has been slow, with bills like the SAFE Banking Act and the Fair Access to Banking Act still awaiting further action, advocates remain hopeful. They seek bipartisan support, as both the political right and left have concerns about businesses facing banking access issues.

In conclusion, sex workers continue to exist amid hostile conditions and discrimination from traditional financial systems. While cryptocurrencies initially offered hope for financial liberation, their limitations have become evident. As long as crypto cannot be easily converted into traditional money and used for daily expenses, it remains a temporary and imperfect solution. Sex workers and their advocates are working toward significant legislative change and banking stability in the hopes of ending financial discrimination once and for all.