Whether you like it or not, technology is changing the way we think about our sex lives. New virtual sex devices and ways to connect online are creating whole new industries that look a little bit like science fiction. So, where does blockchain fit into all of this?
Right now, it seems as though there’s a new cryptocurrency being released for pretty much every problem in just about every industry, and some of these new currencies are more useful than others. Does the blockchain and cryptocurrency really belong in the online sex industry? Factors like anonymous payments, built-in economic incentives, and platform openness could add up to one attractive proposition for the industry.
We would like to thank the team at Exolover for their contributions to the design and implementation of the research and to the analysis of the result.
Sex and Technology
Sex and tech have built up some serious chemistry over the past few decades. The pornography industry was one of the main driving forces of video technology and the development of the Internet, and more recently, virtual reality. There are dozens of specialized dating apps available to help us meet others online for no-strings-attached dates. There’s also a massive selection of virtual sex devices out there for men and women, many of which can be controlled remotely over the Internet. I think you can see where this is going.
Connecting Online and Current Headaches
It’s the “over the Internet” part where it gets interesting for crypto technology.
The first big business model for the virtual sex industry is professional telesex services. It’s like an online virtual sex service. A big problem in this industry is safely receiving payment as Paypal and other major payment processors won’t come near the sex industry. Anyone caught taking payment for any sexual services will get quickly banned, and other adult industry-specific payment channels take large commissions that are as high as 25%.
The second is the business of connecting consenting adults together. The obvious examples are dating apps like Tinder, but with those new virtual devices we mentioned before, things are getting a little more interesting. Now it’s possible to meet a remote lover online to control your virtual device to try to push your buttons. One of the obvious bottlenecks with this sort of platform is creating a secure and safe environment where people actually behave like themselves.
How Crypto Technology Could Spice Things Up
Cryptocurrency has the properties of being decentralized, immutable, censorship-resistant, secure, and potentially anonymous, and these features could very well lend themselves to the problems mentioned above.
Anonymous signup and payments
Cryptocurrency is all about secrets. Cryptography works because of the ingenious use of shared “secrets” called cryptographic keys. When used in a blockchain system, these shared secrets can be used to facilitate anonymous financial transactions. Just as Bitcoin has been doing for years.
It’s should be no surprise that secrets and anonymity are important in the adult online world, and many people prefer to keep these sorts of desires, and resulting financial transactions, private.
Somewhat counterintuitively, a blockchain system that would allow users to connect anonymously could make interactions of these kinds safer for everyone involved. Apart from just guaranteeing payment will go through with special cryptocurrencies, one startup is creating a blockchain based online rating system for the sex industry. This makes it possible to have an online, immutable reputation on the platform while remaining completely anonymous, and this could be used to effectively incentivize users to behave appropriately.
Another advantage of decentralized platforms over centralized ones is openness. There is no central point of control, or gatekeeper, that can censor anything in a decentralized system. A decentralized platform for the virtual sex industry would allow anyone to connect at any time. In theory, it could also be open to any third-party devices to connect too.
How it works?
ExoLover is an Australian company building state-of-the-art, Internet-enabled virtual sex devices, as well as a decentralized platform to truly connect and use those devices with partners online.
The company is developing a range of virtual devices for simulating sex with names like “ExoWand,” “ExoThrust,” and “ExoTouch.” Apart from claiming to be highly innovative, these devices are unique in that they are crypto-powered, meaning they are designed specifically to connect to ExoLover’s decentralized ecosystem for sexual interaction. In fact, ExoLover’s devices only work when connected to the ExoLover platform.
The basic idea is that sexual interactions and physical simulations are controlled remotely by a partner (or multiple partners) you met in a safe environment on the Internet. You can actually feel the physical sensations that your remote partner chooses.
To add to the novelty and playfulness, and as an extra incentive to connect to new partners on the system, ExoLover has a built-in reward mechanism called “Proof of Connect.” Every time two users connect on the platform, one will receive 150% his or her staked tokens back as a reward. The winner is chosen at random by the connecting smart contract.
The cryptocurrency used on the ExoLover platform will be the EXO token, available through the ExoLover ICO. EXO tokens can be used to connect to and use the platform, as well as to buy new discounted devices to try out.
Intimate is another project working on bringing the blockchain to the adult industry. Described as a pseudonymous reputation framework, Intimate allows the value of an immutable reputation to be used when paying and interacting online while maintaining some level of anonymity. By having your reputation at stake in, the hope is that people will have more of an incentive to be respectful, or whatever style of behavior is desired for different applications.
Nocta is a similar decentralized platform for the adult service sector. Anonymity is maintained with cryptocurrency payments, and reputation is built into the platform with ratings and immutable histories on the blockchain.
Is Crypto Really Necessary Here?
In the current environment of crypto-hysteria, this is an extremely important question to ask. In the early 2000s, many of the not-so-useful Internet companies disappeared in the dot-com crash. The same will likely happen to many of the cryptocurrencies currently being created in the ICO bubble that’s happening right now.
For long-term viability, platforms like ExoLover will need to make sure that customers actually prefer a decentralized system over a centralized one. Using blockchain and cryptocurrencies for anonymous transactions comes with usability and efficiency tradeoffs that make a product harder to use. Think about how much more difficult it is to pay for something with Bitcoin over Mastercard. If the advantages aren’t clear, customers will opt for something else, something simpler.
Another is getting the incentives right. One of the real beauties of crypto-based platforms is that economic incentives can be built right in, rewarding user behavior that benefits the platform and disincentivizing bad behavior. We’ve seen this done successfully with sites like Steemit, where honest content and early upvoting of content that becomes popular are encouraged and rewarded.
The world of online and virtual sex already has a somewhat shady reputation. If a platform like ExoLover (with the ‘Proof-of-Connect’) can incentivize the right kinds of behavior and create a fun, safe environment for meeting remote partners to have fun with, it could be revolutionary. It might even pull the somewhat shadowy sector into the mainstream. And, into higher profitability.
Will This Crypto-Love Affair Last?
Sex-related industries are often early adopters and drivers of technology trends. Crypto-tech is turning out to be one of the most important trends of our time, and the adult sector is jumping on the bandwagon.
Cryptocurrencies are already firmly establishing themselves in the adult entertainment industry. Projects like ExoLover want to take the relationship to the next level by coupling virtual sex devices with a complete, decentralized platform for meeting and connecting lovers online. Whether they are successful or not will depend on their implementation and if they can offer a truly attractive proposition for their customers.
We’ve created an infographic to better explain this idea to you: