Sex work is widely known as the oldest profession in the world. It’s one of the industries that regardless of global politics and economics is able to withstand the ever-changing and evolving societies which its immersed in. It is expected that this industry employs approximately 40–42 million workers worldwide while generating global revenue of $186 billion annually. Around 1 in 5 men have ever ordered a prostitute. Despite the size of the sex work market, current regulatory efforts from governments are inefficient for safe execution of this profession.
The ramifications of legal status, moral marginalization and discrimination against sex workers continues to be a global problem, with many states leaving them without protection and support, often leading to compromising or even life threatening situations. Human trafficking and spreading of STDs are one of the most serious problems in this industry. The most important human rights and health organizations (such as WHO, UNAIDS or Amnesty International) believe the issue of sex worker human rights is of greatest importance, including those related to freedom of speech, travel, immigration, work, marriage, parenthood, insurance, health insurance, and housing.
However, the problem is not limited only to sex workers — the clients are in many cases left without consumer protection and might even become victims of false rape accusations.
The sex work industry is often overlooked by digital innovators and is currently dominated by shady ventures that do not exert enough influence to move the industry in a particular direction. As a result, the sex work market is fragmented and consists of several small to medium-sized platforms operating mostly only on a regional level.
The root cause of most problems associated with sex work lies in a social stigma toward the participants, leading to a contradicting discrepancy between the need for privacy and trustworthiness.
In HUSSY.io, we believe in a future, where all women are in control of their own sexuality, including consensual exchange of money for sex with ability to set a fair price, timing and circumstances of the sexual act.
Case study: Regulation of sex work in DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
German speaking countries are a typical example of countries that has chosen a rational decision to legalise and to regulate sex work industry instead of naively banning it in order to have control over it. Every sex worker must register with local authorities (at a specialized police department) and regularly seek health checks from a professional medical examiner. Sex workers are also subject to taxation and social insurance contributions.
Regulation or at least decriminalization is a good way to fight with the problems in the sex work industry. Although a good regulation can help a lot with controlling of the sex work, it does not remove the problems completely. Even with the best regulation, some major problems stay still:
- The client engaging with a sex worker can get into legal troubles, because he never knows, whether she is in the country legally or whether she is of legal age.
- The client does not know whether the sex worker undertook the required health checks recently.
- The regulation does not prevent false rape accusations against clients.
- The regulation does not effectively protect sex workers from notoriously abusive or inappropriate behaviour of some clients.
Welcome to the world of the Blockchain
Blockchain technology first appeared in 2008 and has been since proven to be useful for providing immutable trust and security in almost any industry. You may be wondering how is the Blockchain relevant to the sex work industry. But before we dive into details, let’s have a quick overview of the Blockchain and Smart Contracts technology.
How does the Blockchain and Smart Contracts work?
The Blockchain is a continuously growing public ledger which is secured through the use of cryptography. The main characteristic of the Blockchain is, that all data are stored decentralized (i.e. there is no single computer storing them) and immutable (i.e. once stored, they cannot be removed or modified).
But the most useful use cases comes, when we combine the Blockchain with Smart Contracts. Smart contracts help you exchange money, property, shares, or anything of value in a transparent, conflict-free way while avoiding the services of a middleman. Smart Contracts gave software developers ability to easily create so called decentralized applications (or shortly dApps). Compared to the traditional centralized applications, dApps are temper-proof, immutable and secure by design.
Introducing HUSSY.io — decentralized escorting infrastructure
With the invention of dApps, sex workers can arrange meetings with their clients without relying on a third party. However, the true power of dApps in sex industry comes with the combination of dApps with a trusted authority, that can verify the identity and a health state of each sex worker and issue a immutable confirmation to the Blockchain that each potential client can verify before arranging a meeting.
Hence, the HUSSY infrastructure consists a decentralized on-chain architecture with two inter-operating off-chain services — the Due Diligence Authority (DDA) and the Listings Authority (LA).
The human actors in the HUSSY.io are the following:
- Service provider — sells sex or other related service
- Client — buys sex or other related service
Due Diligence Authority (DDA)
This authority is a trusted 3rd party responsible for verification of all service providers. There are three types of verification supported by the DDA:
- KYC verification — Each service provider is required to take a selfie with the passport and send it together with additional private data to the DDA. Human staff will manually check the provided information and issue an anonymized certificate to the Blockchain confirming that the service provider (identified only by the Blockchain wallet address) is legally in the country and of legal age for executing the sex work profession. KYC verification is optional for clients.
- STDs check verification — Service workers should take regular health checks from a doctor or other professional health examiner. The health check can be verified by the DDA and the confirmation issued to the Blockchain.
- Proof of Consent (PoC)— After the client arrange a meeting with the service provider, the sex worker will generate a QR code signed by her private key. A client will scan this QR code and sign it also with his private key. This double-signed PoC is sent to the DDA and subsequently stored to the Blockchain. It will ensure that the meeting was voluntary from both parties involved in the sexual act.
Listings Authority (LA)
There are three main functions that the LA is responsible for:
- Payment mediation — A service provider that wants to advertise her services in a listings platform chooses an optional advertising fee and opens a payment channel with the LA (using μRaiden technology). In regular time intervals, a chosen amount of tokens will be deducted from her deposit in a smart contract. After closing the payment channel, the fee is settled and transferred to the wallet of the LA.
- Listing certificate issuance — Only advertisement with valid listings certificate are shown in the listing platform.
- Indexing API — Although all the listings are publicly stored on the Blockchain, searching and filtering through the data is very ineffective for end-users. From this reason, all data stored on the Blockchain are indexed and monitored by the LA and provided for end-users in form of an API. The final ordering of the listings result set from the API is given by the fee chosen by the SP which is the basis for creating a revenue.
User interface will be downloaded from a decentralized storage (IPFS) and will reside in a browser on the service provider and the client. The LA together with the web application are collectively called the listings platform.
Flexible fee schedule
One of the major features of the HUSSY.io platform is so called flexible fee schedule. Service providers can advertise their services in the listing platform either for free or for an optional fee. However, the higher the fee is chosen by the service provider, the more often is the advertisement shown to the clients. Advertisements without fee or only with very small fee will be shown on the very end of the listings presented to the client. This flexible fee schedule will give incentives to service providers to regularly monitor the market in their geographic location and adapt the prices accordingly.
Despite positive legal actions from many governments towards regulation or at least decriminalization of the sex work, huge problems stay unresolved. The invention of the Blockchain and dApps gives us new way of fighting with human trafficking, spreading of STDs or preventing of false rape accusations. We propose a decentralized escorting infrastructure called HUSSY.io that is safe by design. The value proposition of this system is to provide anonymized but verifiable KYC verification, professional health certification and Proof of Consent stored on the Blockchain. The innovative business model is based on flexible fee schedule for advertising sex services through a 3rd party listings platform.