Meet intimate: a crypto-based platform for the adult industry
Leah Callon-Butler of intimate explains how the cryptocurrency-based platform hopes to make the adult world safer and more secure for users and sex workers.
Interview from Blockchain Week London on 23 January 2018.
Read the transcript:
Hey, I'm Leah. I'm the co-founder and the engagement director for intimate. We're a cryptocurrency that is designed to solve the problems in the adult and sex-tech industries.
intimate is only about 18 weeks old today, but we've spun out of a few other businesses that have been operating for a few years. We've got quite an extensive history working in crypto but also adult. So, for example, our CEO Reuben Coppa, he's been working in crypto for the last four years, actually introduced the first bitcoin ATMs to Australia. He'd also started a company which was called rendevu. That came out about two years ago, and it's essentially like an Uber for escorts. It's an on-demand online platform where you can book a sex worker, but it was designed to solve a lot of problems in that industry.
So, for example, the people who may not have booked that kind of service before, there's a lot of problems for both suppliers of the service as well as customers. Tends to be a lot of noise around, so if you're actually a legitimate customer, it can be very difficult to kind of get ahead of the line around people who are sending texts or calling sex workers and don't actually intend to book a service.
As you can imagine, that can be incredibly frustrating for the sex workers themselves.
Is that a big problem?
Yeah, a huge problem, time wasters essentially. The problem there actually comes back to payments. So you can imagine, I mean, any other supplier in the world would enjoy the usual security of being able to know if someone's a legitimate customer before they start engaging with the service or intending to deliver that service.
This is actually a really deep issue because, taking a step back, the only safety mechanism that a sex worker has to be able to decide if someone is safe to deal with or not is to talk to them on the phone and decide if they sound dodgy. So that's a problem, right? Because they end up talking to a lot of people on the phone, many of which may not be legitimate customers because they're not forced to put up any kind of payment validation prior to the engagement.
So rendevu was designed to address a lot of that. What it does, you can actually browse all the suppliers who are there, you know, in the same way that it's only Uber drivers that are out at the moment, it's only sex workers who are online at the moment, browse their pictures, see, you know, whether it's in call or out call, see how long it would take for them to get to you or how much time they need to get ready,da,and then you can book on there. The only catch is that you need to put in your credit card details to validate the transaction.
So that does a lot of good for everyone involved because anyone who's a legitimate customer can actually say, "Yes, I'm going to pay for the service. Here's my payment details." Easy. If you didn't have a problem with it, then you know that's not a problem, not a friction point, to be able to put it up there. But for a sex worker to, they know that anyone that they're engaging with is again a legitimate customer.
However, the issue with this and what we've seen across the wider adult industry is that most people don't really want to be putting their private details, such as their name and their credit card details, into a platform like this. There's a plethora of issues around this.
It's around identity. People are worried about being found out that they're going to access this kind of service. But it's also around, well even if they don't find out immediately, you're going to have some weird thing come up on your credit card bill. Someone might go, "Oh, you know, what have you been buying?" That causes a huge friction point. So what we could see is that there were lots of people coming onto the platform and probably thinking about booking the service but not actually going to that stage of the credit card validation.
This actually happens industry-wide. So it could be anything for like a pay-for-porn site or a live camming site where you would actually go on and enter your credit card details to access online content. But even things like e-commerce sites that sell sex toys or intimate apparel, people have the same kind of friction.
So, it was actually years ago that Reuben, our CEO, he had the thought, "Wow, what an amazing marriage this would make between crypto and adult." Adult having these issues around well how do we solve customer privacy and respect people's wish for privacy around their identity while also affording the workers and the platforms the ability to be able to transact with people, and essentially have a safety mechanism too, around well, you know, if I don't know anything about you, how do I know that you're a safe person to deal with.
It's kind of this weird dichotomy of issues that are just always competing against each other. Crypto, being an amazing technology which can afford people the right to be able to transact privately, also be able to facilitate payments and transactions, of course, but then as a third layer on top of that, be able to build in an industry-wide trust and reputation layer on top of the blockchain.
And what I mean by that, is that as you transact with this network, you can actually start to build up reputation and have incentives to be a good actor on the network. Same sort of thing as eBay where you've got top sellers that earn more stars or Uber drivers who are working really hard to get more stars on their profile. Although this is not governed by one central organisation like Uber or eBay, it's an industry-wide currency with trust and reputation built in.