Sex Workers Turn to Crypto As Industry Regulations Tighten

Bitcoin is a way for many sex workers to reclaim their financial independence, and it is quickly becoming an industry standard.

In 2018, the United States established a federal statute to combat internet sex trafficking. The Fight Online Trafficking Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, or FOSTA – SESTA, made it possible for web site owners to face criminal prosecution if their content facilitated trafficking.

This regulation was one of the factors that led to the demise of Backpage, once the king of online classifieds for sex workers.

Unfortunately, this law had the opposite impact intended, driving the trade underground and forcing many sex workers to labor on the streets.

Crypto enables sex workers to deal with chargebacks, which occur when a customer says they were fraudulently charged for a commodity or service they did not obtain. Most of the time, the workers are responsible for repaying the money.

Although these assertions are not always true, crypto provides an alternative because all crypto transactions are final, making chargebacks impossible.

Cryptocurrency also allows sex workers to avoid payment processors that can close their accounts at any time. Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal have all blocked the accounts of sex workers.

These companies virtually invariably claim that this was done to avoid becoming involved in "illegal and brand-damaging actions." The absence of crypto expertise is one of the only impediments to crypto acceptance in the sex work industry. Sex workers have developed and distributed online manuals on how to utilize cryptocurrency, but there is still a significant knowledge gap.