Blockchain is leaving its mark on all types of industries. Escorts industry is not an exception. In fact, its one such industry where a start-up nearly turned this market upside down.
‘Pinkdate’ was launched as a sex industry startup in 2018 as a world’s first cryptocurrency backed booking app. It was initially funded through ICO (initial coin offering) in February 2018. The token was ERC20 (Ethereum) and it was called PDP (short for Pinkdate Platform). It had a pre-ICO value of 0.147 USD per token.
Pinkdate tokens were seen as an investment in a profitable industry. Additionally, dividends were paid out of 50% profit to token holders every three months which made it an incredibly lucrative investment. Once launched, Pinkdate accepted Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrency from the clients to use their service.
Features of PinkDate
Since Pinkdate is a blockchain-based platform, it did not come under the scrutinization of any country’s law and regulation. In other words, it was an extra-jurisdictional company and they operate anonymously.
2. Uber of Escorting
This crypto powered global escorting platform was famously described as ‘Uber of escorting’. Just like Uber matches a passenger with a driver, Pinkdate matches escorts with clients.
Pinkdate combined screening, booking, verification, and payment into a single platform. Their aim is to deliver an amazing companionship experience to its clients as well as discreet and secure employment opportunities to sex industry workers, all without a middle man.
4. Minimizing Risks
As per it’s whitepaper, Pinkdate understood that escorting is a high-risk business. While scheduling a date, security and discretion must be ensured at both ends. It was ensured by screening and planning a date at a single meeting location.
5. Boon for Escorts and Clients
Escorting and sex industry is estimated to be nearly $157 billion market and yet it’s an unregularized industry. There are no national or international agencies that regularize it. For this reason, one option that escorts have is to operate independently. The other option is to work with small, local agencies which can charge a fee as much as 40%.
Both options have downsides.
Working independently would mean that an escort handles everything on its own. It’s risky and inefficient. Escorts put themselves at risk when they go out and meet a client without screening and trust. Option two is financially draining for the sex worker in the form of a high cut to the agency.
Looking at the other side of the table, clients usually spend a lot of time looking for and communicating with escorts to find the worth match. Sharing personal information to escorts is another impediment that prevents a client from having a satisfactory companionship experience.
Pinkdate comes to resolve these issues for both escorts and clients.
6. User-Friendly Interface
Pinkdate considered all these issues and came up with the solution with their platform. This crypto-backed escorting platform included search, booking, screening and payment, all within a single user friendly and easy to use application interface.
Clients were given a dating style swiping interface on the platform. They were able to filter the escorts by providing detailed search preferences and make instant bookings.
Escorts, on the other hand, have client’s screening information available to them. They also have the option to provide their availability to the client in advance and accepting payments.
Both parties can tremendously benefit from this swift, efficient, time and money-saving process that it enables through their platform.
Pinkdate charges 20% on each transaction to generate its revenue. They calculated $400 as the average transaction amount and there were nearly 59000 anticipated transactions per month.
Whitepaper for Pinkdate listed the following benefits for investors, escorts, and clients.
Benefits for investors
- Investors were entitled to dividends from profit. More specifically, 50% of the total net profit is paid at the end of each quarter. Since the platform is built on blockchain, all transactions are verifiable.
- The revenue model is transaction-based which is directly proportional to growth.
- The escorting industry is estimated to be $157 billion annually worldwide.
- The company is far from government interference and is organized anonymously. It directly translates to less fluctuation and far greater control over the operations.
- Strong possibility of the platform to scale at the global level.
Benefits for escorts
- A single integrated platform for client screening, booking, and payment.
- A reduction of 70% in time and cost for screening and acquiring a client.
- Better visibility and reach to clients using the platform due to their high advertising budget.
- The booking fee is marginally low (20% fixed) as compared to other small local agencies (up to 40%).
- The ability to get paid in cryptocurrency. This improves the privacy of transactions and eliminates the scrutinization of the transaction.
Benefits for clients
- User-friendly browsing, searching, and selecting using easy to use swipe interface.
- Escort’s availability on the calendar, making it easier to do instant booking with immediate confirmation.
- The payment system is built-in to make the transaction using cryptocurrency. This gets rid of any payment related issues and supports anonymity.
- Clients once screened and verified can use the Pinkdate application worldwide.
- There is no actual app to be downloaded. The application is available as a web-based platform. This further provides security and privacy to clients.
The story of this feature-rich, blockchain-backed, web-based escorting service is not all romantic. As per this article from coindesk.com, Pinkdate was rife with irregularities and issues. Certainly, there is a difference between what was being claimed and what was being offered.
The feature of privacy that is being touted as the prime benefit of using this service seems to be doubtful. As per the article:
“PinkDate also requires the escorts using its platform to have active Twitter accounts and hand over copies of their government-issued ID.https://www.coindesk.com/sex-crypto-pinkdate-ico
This arguably creates an asymmetric relationship – the sex workers, who risk arrest or social ostracism if they were to be outed, are being asked to trust operators whom they know nothing about.”
Escorts had raised concerns about the screening and compliance process of Pinkdate. They worry that Pinkdate is not devoting enough efforts and resources to cross-check client IDs against blacklist database to weed out abusive customers.
Due to these concerns, many escorts have refused to participate when they were approached for testing the app.
Pinkdate was eventually shut down in November 2018 by Colorado State Securities. Commissioner Gerald Rome issued a cease and desist order by releasing an official notice to Pinkdate, among 3 other ICO, for allegedly offering unregistered securities.
They claim that Pinkdate allegedly has not been registered with the division of securities. They were ordered to shut down since they violated the Colorado Securities Act, including unregistered securities and fraud.
Their website – pinkdate.is was taken down. And just like that, it vanished from the Blockchain ecosystem, forever.
Pinkdate well attempted to introduce blockchain to the escorts industry but it could not do it with as much elegance it claimed. There was clearly more effort that could have been devoted to ensuring that all involved parties can invest their faith in this venture. Without convincingly addressing issues like privacy, security, payments etc., this project was doomed to failure.
However, it’s likely that there are other industry experts who must be trying to figure out ways to resolve these issues and come up with a solution that stays for long, unlike Pinkdate.