Tue, Feb 16, 2021 1:16 PM by Basil S.

Proof of Porn: Here’s How Pornhub Went Full Crypto

CoinJoy proof of porn

From VCR to cable TV to closed caption technology to video streaming services — the porn industry has been the driving force behind the adoption of new tech since as far back as the early 1970s at least. Now that the world’s biggest adult entertainment website only accepts cryptocurrency for its premium service, dedicated porn consumers can once again play their collective hand in proving the innovative nature of their beloved industry by simply purchasing a coin or two. To extend this metaphor even further, the future of crypto is finally in good hands. 

So how did Pornhub’s executives arrive at the decision to go full crypto? What does child pornography have to do with this? Most importantly, is there anyone who deserves getting spanked in this story? Let’s sort it all out.

The foreplay

Pornhub made its first major step towards embracing crypto by introducing payments with the Verge cryptocurrency (a rebranded version of DogecoinDark) in 2018. By that time, more than 400 adult websites (including platforms such as xHamster and Naughty America) had been already accepting cryptocurrencies for more than a year

The following year marked Paypal’s departure as PornHub’s payment processor. To this day, the reasoning behind that decision is not exactly clear: according to Paypal’s spokesperson at the time, the company discovered Pornhub to have made “certain business payments through PayPal without seeking our permission”. The website responded by deeming Paypal’s decision as “discriminative against sex workers” and advising its models to switch to a different payment method. At the time, there were still plenty of options available.

How to pull out strategically

Pornhub’s qualms with its payment processors didn’t stop at that. On December 2020, Visa and Mastercard simultaneously blocked all payments to Pornhub following the accusations of the website “monetizing child rapes, revenge pornography, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags”. 

After a short investigation, both companies prohibited the use of their credit cards on the website. Later on, Discover also jumped onto the bandwagon, effectively making receiving payments in fiat almost impossible for the performers. This prompted a backlash from adult performers, some of whom publicly branded Visa’s and Mastercard’s actions a “war on sex workers” that could “seriously harm their livelihoods”. 

 

As Mastercard and Visa abandoned the website, Pornhub made changes to prevent the use of nonconsensual content, banning unverified downloads and deleting the majority of its videos while also referring to Visa’s and Mastercard’s measures as “exceptionally disappointing”. With its payment options now largely limited and its financial stability put in jeopardy, the website was left no other choice than to turn to crypto. 

In mid December, Pornhub announced it would only accept crypto from the moment on. The website now supports more than a dozen types of cryptocurrency, including BTC and ETH. 

Playing hard to get

Now let’s digress from crypto a little for the sake of a quick lesson in porn history. In mid to late 1970’s, as today’s milfs were still getting their heads around basic math, two major japanese electronic corporations Sony and JVC were battling over who’s videotape format would reign on the mass market. While Sony’s Betamax tapes allowed for better quality recordings, they could only hold 60 minutes of footage as opposed to 3 hours capacity of a VHS cassette introduced by JVC. 

What eventually led to Betamax’s demise was not its recording capacity, but rather Sony’s ambivalence towards producers of pornographic videos. While JVC and the VHS consortium welcomed adult content with open arms, Sony wouldn’t allow for pornographic content to be recorded on Betamax tapes. The tech lore has it, this unpopular decision led to the steady downfall of Betamax in the US: by 1980, the VHS format controlled 60% of the North American market, while erotic films accounted for over a half of all videotape sales in the US. 

In a way, Sony’s puritanical stance on not allowing pornography on Betamax tapes basically killed their own videotape format by forcing adult studios, distributors and consumers to go with VHS. 

The downfall of Betamax taught companies a valuable lesson: when it’s about money and markets, don’t mess with porn industry out of moral grounds unless you happen to be priests or something. In the meantime, as cryptocurrencies are gradually gaining traction as a globally accepted means of payment, major credit card & online payments giants and, for that matter, major fiat proponents — opt to disconnect the porn websites from their services, effectively forcing porn consumers to switch to crypto.  Well, the history goes in circles, they say. 


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