PayPal pulls out of Pornhub, leaving sex workers to consider cryptocurrency

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PayPal has pulled support for adult performers’ payouts on Pornhub, barring models from receiving their payments in a timely and efficient manner.

The porn giant broke the news through its model support Twitter account on Wednesday night, tweeting “URGENT: PayPal has stopped all Pornhub model payouts.” As the post made the rounds among both sex workers and their allies, Pornhub confirmed the announcement via an official blog post.

“We sincerely apologize if this causes any [payout] delays and we will have staff working around the clock to make sure all payouts are processed as fast as possible on the new payment methods,” Pornhub wrote.

Pornhub Vice President Corey Price told the Daily Dot that the company is “devastated by PayPal’s decision.”

“Decisions like that of PayPal and other major companies do nothing but harm efforts to end discrimination and stigma towards sex workers,” Price said. “While we still have several payment methods for our models available, we will continue to add more sex worker friendly ones and explore crypto currency options in the near future.”

PayPal did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.

Sex workers weren’t particularly shocked, given PayPal’s reputation for discrimination against adult performers, providers, and adult content creators as a whole. And while the move signals PayPal is further stigmatizing sex workers, performers are more concerned with the models impacted than Pornhub itself. Common complaints include how the porn giant reportedly hosted porn videos of an underage teenager, failed to cooperate with police on a revenge porn case, partnered with a studio accused of coercing young women into shoots, and, according to Vice, “actively relies” on piracy to exist.

Adult performer Deer-Noizes said that although she isn’t a fan of Pornhub and its monopolistic owner MindGeek, the situation “does suck” and her “heart goes out to the individuals affected by it.”

“Sex workers have always had issues with online payment systems, I can’t think of many individuals who use PayPal for direct sales anymore, so it’s not too surprising Pornhub would eventually have issues and support pulled,” Deer-Noizes told the Daily Dot. “One of the most important things I learned was not to trust the online payment systems like CashApp, Venmo, PayPal, etc. because they can drop you out of the blue and withhold money on your account that you earned.”

Pornhub recommends models change to direct deposit or the European Union’s Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) system, but this may not be practical in the longterm. Columnist Lux Alptraum says payment processors’ discriminatory policies are “at a core level” dictated by credit card companies and banks, and filter down to online payment processors before reaching individuals platforms.

Jeff Garzik, the CEO behind blockchain integration technology company Bloq, warned that banks will soon follow PayPal’s steps by limiting direct deposits and SEPA transfers to sex workers’ bank accounts. This seems likely, given that sex workers already deal with plenty of financial discrimination from banks.

Garzik called instead for cryptocurrency to step up to the plate.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies function off the blockchain, securing payments and protecting both the buyer and receiver’s privacy. While traditionally volatile, cryptocurrency doubles as a fast in-between to quickly and discreetly transfer offline currencies. Bitcoin, for example, is already popular with dark web users buying and selling drugs.

The adult industry has already taken steps to integrate cryptocurrency into its services. Pornhub began offering Verge cryptocurrency payouts in April 2018. Chaturbate introduced Bitcoin payouts shortly after. Independent adult platform ManyVids implemented cryptocurrency payouts in June and supports both payments and model payouts via Bitcoin and Ethereum, along with dozens of other cryptocurrencies. While some sex workers believe blockchain-based payments are the future, not everyone is ready to make the jump quite yet.

“As far as I know, it’s not a very widespread thing [among sex workers],” Deer-Noizes told the Daily Dot. “I’ll admit I don’t know much about it, like conversions to USD or how to even exchanges and receive cryptocurrency. I also don’t see a reason to make a switch and accept it as I’ve never had offers to be paid in crypto before either.”

Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.