Crypto ‘Uber for Escorts’ Not Safe for Sex Workers
Touting itself as the “Uber of escorting,” PinkDate is one of the sex industry startups planning to launch a crypto-fueled booking application driven by initial coin offering (ICO).
Currently in a closed beta, the online platform, developed akin to ride-hailing app Uber, intends to match sex workers with clients. The startup has earned over $1 million through its toke offering, with Sarah Stevens, former PinkDate president, saying a dozen of escorts are enlisted to use the app.
But sources privy to the matter disclosed they have encountered several issues pertaining to this project including unscrupulous fees to insufficient sex worker representation. Not to mention the identity of the firm’s founders and headquarters were not revealed.
“PinkDate is not registered as a legal entity. We are extra-jurisdictional and operate anonymously,” a PinkDate spokesperson who goes by the name Roger said.
Also, all escorts using the platform are required to have an active Twitter account and provide a copy of their government-issued ID.
“Too pimp-like and not safe to use,” according to a sex worker working for PinkDate, who agreed to shed light on the matter on the condition of anonymity. The source was invited to test the service but declined to participate.
Clients will be asked to provide personal information. However, sex workers are worried the company is not doing everything in its might to cross-reference those clients with industry blacklist data. According to Roger, all client information will be provided to client. But escorts find this scheme dubious given the technical glitches and product launch delays.
“They do zero know-your-customer and anti-money laundering [checks]. Since they’re not a legal entity, this is not even a security token offering,” Stevens said, referring to the evaluation of token-buyers.
“Anyone can buy PinkDate Token Shares. There is no screening process,” Roger said, adding the startup does not inspect buyers. “We are selling unregistered securities for a company that’s building a global escorting platform.”
Another sex worker, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, divulged that PinkDate is not communicating with them once they signed up to utilize the app. “They clearly don’t care about the girls on the site. None of us got emails explaining what’s going on,” the escort said.
But the spokesperson refuted this statement. “We are going to finalize an arrangement with a commercial database that specifically deals with adult-oriented projects,” he said without providing more details.
In a statement, PinkDate said Stevens resigned because of a recently enacted US law called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) which penalizes internet services providers or users for allowing prostitution to thrive online. But Stevens said she stepped down because of her concerns about the company’s business model.
Sex workers cited that split in earnings is another point of concern for them as PinkDate would take a huge chunk of profit.
The firm will facilitate bitcoin and monero payments from clients and then individual escorts will be levied with a 20 percent charge.
“We are always open to ideas on what escorts would like as far as additional benefits or services that adds value to their business. This could include photo shoots, launch parties or other events, etc; part of an initial marketing ramp-up that will be required,” Roger said.
However, Stevens argues the PinkDate group won’t be able to provide support services to escorts. “They just wanted to make money off the backs of escorts … making promises they can’t keep,” she added.