“I Just Want To Sell Titty Pictures”: Sex Workers F**ked By Crypto

By Zero Hedge August 26, 2023 In Banks

Sex workers – who frequently face financial discrimination, losing access to payment apps and banking apps such as PayPal, Venmo and CashApp due to their profession – began using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as an alternative for payments, which bypass traditional banking systems and avoid service fees from platforms such as OnlyFans.

According to data by the Free Speech Coalition, 2/3 of sex workers have lost access to a bank account or financial service, with 40% having an account closed within the last year, Wired reports.

I just want to sell titty pictures,” said Allie Eve Knox, a professional dominatrix and fetish performer. “I never wanted to be an expert in financial discrimination.”

🖕 pic.twitter.com/21WPZJUSbB

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— Allie Eve Knox (@allieeveknox) August 23, 2023

After starting out in sex work in 2014, Knox, like others in the field, has become something of a financial pariah. The first to ban her were the payment apps—PayPal, Venmo, and CashApp—which prohibit the sale of adult content as policy. But then Knox lost her bank account too. It took a week to recover her money.

Nine years on and 30-plus bans later, Knox is jaded: “I don’t want to have to know how to run money to different places. I don’t want to deal with any of this bullshit.” -Wired

Another sex worker, Allie Rae, an ICU worker by training, began posting on OnlyFans when her husband was placed on work furlough. After a short period of time, she was making nearly $500,000 per month more than her day job – but she says she quickly ran into trouble.

After her OnlyFans account was discovered by her employer, she was fired. She also found that realtors shunned her, lenders refused to extend a mortgage and accountants ghosted her. Rae eventually established a corporation to run her business through, however no major bank would open a business account.

POV: You just picked me up, now where we going? pic.twitter.com/CwYCRHhCvG

— The Allie Rae ®️ (@MrsAllieRae) August 24, 2023

“Left and right, it’s been a struggle,” she told the outlet. “I was very naive—I didn’t understand the magnitude of the discrimination.”

In short, in a world that embraces the gig economy, where YouTubers and Instagram influencers can become millionaires, sex workers have found themselves in a peculiar form of exile.

Crypto: false hope

Given the systemic discrimination throughout the banking sector, many sex workers have turned to cryptocurrencies as a means of both storing wealth and accepting payment. For a while, things were great. Digital currencies allowed customers to pay discreetly without supplying personal information, while sex workers now had a way to bypass the banking system entirely.

Knox, for example, began accepting crypto in 2014 – holding up a QR code through which viewers could tip her in crypto.

Another sex worker, former escort-turned-porn star Lira Roux, told the outlet that she began to accept crypto in 2015 at the request of clients. Initially, she would exchange the crypto for dollars, however when new laws came into effect – after which many adult-friendly advertising sites were barred from accepting regular money – she began to pay for ads with crypto too.

“By and large, crypto is useful for people that aren’t being taken care of properly by the government,” Roux said. “For sex workers, who aren’t well-served by banks, it becomes a useful option.”

Now, thanks to regulatory scrutiny which has gone into overdrive since the collapse of crypto exchange FTX, sex workers are ‘bumping up’ against limitations – and are finding that ‘decentralized’ crypto is no more detached from the banking system than traditional currency – as sex workers are finding it increasingly difficult to convert crypto into dollars. Typically, this is done via an exchange, which then allows one to withdraw to a traditional bank account. Sex workers are now being banned from crypto exchanges.

“You get on an exchange for as long as you can, until they shut your ass down,” said Knox. “You quickly [run out of exchanges], so you sit on a lot of useless money. The whole ‘crypto is permissionless and censorship-resistant’ thing is a bunch of bullshit.”

In the US, full-service sex work (also known as prostitution) is illegal in every state but Nevada, but pornography and online sex work are legal under the First Amendment. Irrespective of this distinction, banking access has been a problem for the entire sex work community since at least the 1960s, says Mike Stabile, director of public affairs at the FSC, and has only become more acute.

The issue was exacerbated a decade ago by a program launched by the Obama administration, under which banks were warned that a collection of industries posed an “elevated risk” of fraud, including pornography. Now known as Operation Chokepoint, the initiative was found by investigators not to have constituted a deliberate attempt to disrupt disfavored businesses, but is nonetheless said to have led banks to sever ties with the adult sector.

(Knox suspects she has ended up on a blacklist at Plaid, a provider of technology plumbing to large crypto exchanges like Gemini, Kraken, and Robinhood, leading to the repeated bans. Freya Petersen, spokesperson for Plaid, says no such list exists, but that all firms that wish to use its services are subject to a standard risk assessment process, factoring in the industry in which they operate.) -Wired

When banks blacklist sex workers, they rarely justify their actions. In one case, porn star Alana Evans, president of the Adult Performance Artists Guild (APAG) was told by Wells Fargo that her account – opened in the mid-1990s, would be closed as part of “ongoing reviews” related to the bank’s responsibility to “manage risks.”

After being a customer since 1993, and NEVER GOING NEGATIVE ONCE, @WellsFargo sent me this letter today.

After 30 years, they are closing my accounts.

What is going on? I’m being removed for being a sex worker.

In one week, I’m fired from a vanilla job AND losing my bank pic.twitter.com/siYgb5EDlr

— Alana Evans XBIZ BEST MILF CAM Winner!! (@alanaevansxxx) September 2, 2022

The industry lockout means that sex workers can’t enjoy the convenience factors provided by Venmo or other payment platforms, and forces them to rely on OnlyFans and Fansly, which handle payouts but not before taking a sizable chunk of their income.

Given this environment, many sex workers turn to friends or spouses (or pimps) to act as a custodian of their finances, exposing them to potential abuse.

“One of the ways traffickers control victims is by controlling their finances,” said Jessica Van Meir, founder of MintStars, an adult-friendly NFT subscription platform, and a PhD candidate at Harvard specializing in women’s informal labor. “The irony is that banks exclude sex workers largely for fear of liability for sex trafficking, but by discriminating against sex workers, they put them at higher risk of sex trafficking.”

How fucked is that?

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