Writer: 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 combine oldest industry with 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 generate 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 shoulder to change the ecological environment of 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
payments solutions to access basic banking products; enabling a reputation system
which allow users to transact both on and offline; Partnering with industry to build
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 be 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 client. Nonetheless, Leah and her peers took these
pushbacks as 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 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.”

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