CNBC interviewed six adult entertainers about cryptocurrency use, including webcam performer Allie Eve Knox, who became interested in cryptocurrencies after “several vendors, including PayPal, Square Cash, and Venmo, shut down her accounts because of red flags related to sex work.”
[T]he biggest attraction was having total and irreversible ownership over the money she had earned. “I could cash it out. I could hold it. I could watch it go up and down,” said Knox. “It was mine.” Knox is one of many adult workers who say that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin give them a sense of security and independence as banks, credit card companies, and payment processors tighten regulations around adult content. With crypto, there is no middleman making a judgment call on which transactions are acceptable….
“The majority of sex work in the U.S. is legal. It’s not dealt with fairly, but it’s still legal,” explained Kristen DiAngelo, an activist and Sacramento-based sex worker who has spent over four decades in the industry…. Some escorts — who charge anywhere from $1,700 an hour to $11,000 for a full 24 hours — now explicitly say in their ads that they prefer to be paid in bitcoin or ethereum…. DiAngelo tells CNBC she will never forget the first time her bank account was closed without warning…. DiAngelo called Citibank and learned that her account had been frozen and she should tear up her credit card. DiAngelo says the customer service rep told her that they weren’t “at liberty” to tell her why it had happened, and she would have to write a formal letter to request additional details.
They did, however, say that she was still responsible for any money owed…. There was particular irony in her situation, as DiAngelo did a stint as a stockbroker at Citibank in the 1980âs, always pays her taxes, and has a credit score over 800…. [S]he brought her money to another bank. When they also flagged and closed her account, she moved on to the next. After being shut out of a third bank, DiAngelo says she turned exclusively to bitcoin for her online banking needs. Nearly every sex worker interviewed for this story mentioned platform hopping….
Nowadays, it’s par for the course to see adult websites accept cryptocurrency, and some deal in it exclusively… Some adult media companies have even turned to blockchain technology to develop their own digital currencies and platforms….
Sex workers who do accept crypto also have to contend with volatile prices, which can cut into their earnings. For instance, bitcoin is down more than 40% from its November all-time high.
Knox also tells CNBC she’s sold photos of herself as NFTs on sites like OpenSea. “Thus far, the most she’s gotten from a single sale is $1,200 worth of ethereum.”