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17 Jul, 2018 11:41

Sex workers slam crypto-based ‘Uber for escorts’ over safety fears

Sex workers slam crypto-based ‘Uber for escorts’ over safety fears

A self-described ‘Uber of escorting’ sex industry booking app isn’t impressing sex workers, who have raised concerns about the cryptocurrency platform’s security and lack of transparency.

PinkDate matches sex workers with clients, who can pay for services with crypto such as bitcoin or monero. The startup, still in beta, has raised $1 million through its initial coin offering (ICO).

However, escorts involved in the project have already complained about its security and the risk of meeting unvetted clients, with one anonymous sex worker telling CoinDesk the system is “too pimp-like and not safe to use.”

The company said its clients will also be asked to give identification, but sex workers fear they won’t be adequately cross-referenced with industry blacklists. Under its current model, prospective clients are not obliged to provide detailed ID information, with PinkDate saying: “While we suggest providing more information (so that your chosen companion is more likely to say yes to a date), obviously comfort level is very individual.”

The app takes a substantial cut of 20 percent of the sex workers’ earnings. A similar company, SpankChain charges 5 percent.

PinkDate’s founders are anonymous, yet escorts are expected to upload their government ID and Twitter accounts to sign up. The company says users’ information will be kept on encrypted, secure servers which aren’t exposed to government raids.

The company’s COO, Roger, admitted the anonymous set-up is a “double edge sword” in a Medium post, saying they underestimated the impact it would have on communication.

READ MORE: Blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies to flourish in UK, report states

The company’s former president Sarah Stevens was a sex worker, but she said she left PinkDate because of concerns about its business model. She also raised concerns about the lack of checks surrounding those who invested in the ICO.

“They do zero know-your-customer and anti-money laundering [checks],” she claimed. "Since they're not a legal entity, this is not even a security token offering."

The company said the reason for Stevens’ departure was a legal one and “for her protection,” as it felt it was in Stevens’ best interest to leave because of law enforcement increasingly targeting sex workers.

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