by Xiling Gu
“Crypto Currency, utility token, blockchain, digital coins….” these heated tech buzzwords have flooded us, so much so you would feel illiteracy not mixing some of them into mundane conversations. Apart from being a fancy chit-chat topic and a volatile investment vessel, some ambitious and gallant young entrepreneurs are taking the technology to evolve the “the oldest profession in the world”, we all know what we are talking about right?
Leah Callon-Butler, the cofounder of intimate.io, a cryptocurrency facilitating trust and safety for the Adult Industry sits down for the interview with Disruptive Technologists and shared her story of founding a business that combines the oldest industry with the newest technology.
In an age of technology explosion, when humans are able to shoot an automobile into the orbits of Mars, the topic of sex is still so hush-hush that everything around it instantly became sleazy and dirty. “You can’t set up a bank account and payment gateways will not deal with you. PayPal and Stripe flat-out will not deal with anyone in the adult industry. Novelty manufacturers can’t boost their ads on Facebook.” Leah found the industry severely underserved and biased against, even though it’s completely legitimate and generates huge profits worldwide.
How much do you assume the market value of the adult industry? Just talk about online video content alone, according to various reports, the porn industry’s net worth is about $97 billion. According to various reports, porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. In fact, XVideo, on its own, is bigger than Dropbox, CNN and New York Times combined.
Leah felt the deep chasm between the adult industry’s market value and its weak presence in various sectors, not mentioning the huge profit potential lost due to the lack of payment processing channels, “This is one of the oldest industries in the world and yet it is still largely unregulated, its workers are marginalized, and very often, neither supplier nor customer is protected or empowered.”
This is why several vibrant young entrepreneurs from Australia founded intimate.io and take it upon their shoulders to change the ecological environment of the sex industry by introducing utility token designed for safe and private payment. “Currently, there is a big trade-off between people’s desire to keep their personal data anonymous while also wanting the sense of trust and safety that comes with data disclosure and transparency”.
Leah and her coworkers aimed to solve the dilemma by providing payment solutions to access basic banking products; enabling a reputation system that allows users to transact both on and offline; Partnering with the industry to build a framework to define ethical conduct; Establishing off-chain verification of personal ID and health checks.
The company founded in 2017 now has 15 employees working across different parts of the world, half of which are female. Prior to being the founder of intimate.io, Leah worked on renewable energy which led her into blockchain years later. During her MBA study, she was enamored with the phenomenal application potential for distributed ledger technologies.
Unsurprisingly, the entrepreneurial path of sex tech is challenging,
especially for females. Leah had less than pleasant encounters when people hear about her business, she was constantly assumed as sex workers, some people refused to take photos with her, and her own business coach who she had been working with for years dropped her as a client.
Nonetheless, Leah and her peers took these pushbacks as a stronger incentive to challenge this societal taboo. On March. 2nd, the company announced a $1.1 million investment from Alphabit, a billion-dollar digital currency fund. Alphabit invested in intimate’s ongoing token pre-sale, which has so far raised $5.1 million.
This startup builds upon an industry with thousand years’ societal taboo, adopts the most prospective rising technology as a core competency, and has the leadership from a group of fearless young visionaries, intimate.io is the name you should watch out for. “I firmly believe we will start to see far more innovation and a far more varied representation of target markets and segments, which ultimately creates a more inclusive space for everyone.”