Many payment services, like credit card companies, won’t go near payments for online porn or sexual services. As a result, the sex industry uses lesser-known platforms that take a huge cut. But Intimate has created a payment technology on a blockchain that the startup says will enable better trusted commerce for adult content.

If that starts raising a lot of questions in your mind, then you’re on the right track. Balancing trust, safety, legality, and anonymity — all aspects of the adult industry — isn’t easy to do. It may appear seamy, but London-based Intimate believes it can bring trust and safety into sex commerce. The company is announcing today that Alphabit, a billion-dollar digital currency fund, has invested $1.1 million into Intimate’s ongoing cryptocurrency token presale.

So far, Intimate has raised $5.1 million through the presale for its “open, distributed trust mechanism” for all segments of the adult industry, including interactive content, delivery, and services. The presale is open only to accredited investors in places where it is legal.

As mentioned, porn and sex companies have problems dealing with financial institutions. Many customers that use credit cards will say that their credit card numbers were stolen to pay for porn, and so the credit card companies stopped approving such transactions. That leads to frozen accounts, excessive merchant fees, and further social exclusion for the adult industry, Intimate said.

“Alphabit’s support for intimate’s mission demonstrates that funds see real value in using blockchain to drive social change whilst unlocking new revenue into industries blocked by banks,” said Leah Callon-Butler, cofounder of intimate, in a statement. “Individuals transacting in the adult industry services deserve the same financial services that other industries take for granted.”

Intimate plans to make an alternative option for adult workers, suppliers, and customers, providing the same level of trust and security through the blockchain — which is a transparent and secure ledger that is the backbone of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin — that other industries can have.

Above: How Intimate works

Image Credit: Intimate

“Alphabit invests in projects that are solving real-world problems with blockchain technology, and intimate is breaking down barriers to financial services for a traditionally underserved demographic. This is the exact use case crypto has been waiting for,” said Alphabit CEO Liam Robertson, in a statement.

Intimate takes the traditional advantages of blockchain technology a step further by establishing reputation on a distributed ledger. This provides an open platform of trust providing pseudo-anonymous reputation launching with a network of content, interactive content, dating, novelties, and love hotel brands worldwide. Intimate said its tech could be applied to escorts, livecam operators, porn, and even dating apps.

Intimate was founded in October, and it employs 15 people. Much of the team has been working together since 2013 when Reuben Coppa, Intimate cofounder, started ABA Technologies, which introduced the first Bitcoin ATMs in Australia.

Coppa said in an email that even “so-called progressive innovative companies, like Stripe and PayPal, won’t deal with the adult industry.” Providers of payment services for the adult industry can often take a 25 percent cut of the transaction. Or they can freeze a service provider’s account without warning if they receive a small percentage of chargebacks, Coppa said.

“The adult industry deserves the same respect and the same business services as any other,” said Nathan Smale, cofounder and director of operations at Intimate, in an email.

The Intimate token (ITM) uses the Ethereum blockchain to verify payments. It also verifies a person’s reputation, particularly whether they have used adult services in the past and have received a stamp of approval from the other party. Once a customer or a service provider has a good reputation, others can verify the reputation and are more likely to trust it, even though the parties remain anonymous.

Intimate requires a reputation rating to be attached to every transaction, and it says this foundation of trust will lead to more commerce. Coppa also started a company called Rendevu, an on-demand platform for adult services providers such as escorts. That was where he discovered the problem related to payments for adult services. While legal, Rendevu (dubbed the Uber of sex) had trouble making its transactions happen efficiently. Many transactions simply don’t happen.

The fact that Intimate can introduce a reputation system into the payment platform is important, the company said. If sex workers can verify the reputation of a client or use the platform to report a disreputable client, then the work becomes a lot safer, Intimate said. Disreputable clients will soon find they can’t make payments through the system anymore and will be weeded out.

Of course, people could argue that enabling better commerce in the sex industry will only lead to more illegal activities, such as sex trafficking and forced labor.

Above: Charlotte Rose

Image Credit: Intimate

Intimate said that the adult industry has always been a driver of innovation, whether it was the VHS tape or the mainstreaming of porn on the Internet. It makes sense that the industry will again unlock the ​potential ​of ​blockchain ​and ​cryptocurrencies, Intimate said.

Rivals include Live Stars. Intimate’s advisors include Charlotte Rose, an English sex worker, “dominatrix, sexual trainer, and political candidate” in Nottingham, England.

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