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Pornhub now accepts tether for model payments

The world’s biggest porn site now accepts the world’s biggest stablecoin 

Visitors to Pornhub, which boasted 42 billion visits in 2019, can now pay live webcam models with tether via the Tron wallet, the site announced yesterday. Tether is backed—or supposedly backed—by the U.S. dollar, and Tron is the blockchain run by Chinese entrepreneur Justin Sun.  

The move follows PayPal’s announcement in November that it would stop supporting payments for the hugely popular pornographic website. 

“Since PayPal’s decision to stop payouts to thousands of Models two months ago, we’ve been hustling to start the new year on a good note and offer you more options to make things a little easier,” Pornhub wrote on a blog post Wednesday night. 

The adult entertainment site, which is owned by Luxembourg-headquartered MindGeek, went on to say that it’s added tether (USDT) to its payout option—the version of tether that runs on Tron, that is. Tether became available on the Tron network in April 2019.

“For those of you who may not know, USDT is a crypto currency that follows the U.S. dollar, meaning one USDT token is equal to one U.S. dollar,” it wrote. “USDT transactions can be done globally within a few seconds and there are no fees.”

PornHub’s message then went on to describe how visitors to the site can pay models via Tron’s cryptocurrency wallet Tronlink. 

This is not the first time the adult entertainment site has accepted cryptocurrency for payments, nor is it the first time it has partnered with Sun. In April 2018, Pornhub started accepting verge (XVG) for payments. Two months later, it expanded its cryptocurrency payment options to accept tron (TRX)—the Tron blockchain’s native token—and ZenCash (ZEN).

Sun is memorable for, among other things, spending $4.5 million to have lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett, and then cancelling the lunch. 

Getting paid for porn ain’t easy

It’s been a tough road for sex performers in the online world. The list of payment platforms, payments apps and banks that exclude sexual service in their terms is a lengthy one. It includes everything from Amazon Pay to U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. Many of these terms have been in place well before the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act went into force in 2018. 

The problem for models though, is that tether is not fiat money. So, the models who accept payments via the Tron wallet need to find a way to convert their payments to real dollars, which they can then use in the real world to buy groceries, pay rent, etc. And that likely means going through a cryptocurrency exchange and a lot of rigmarole.

In general, models are paid a percentage of the ad revenue they earn from video views “or 65% of the video sales, or 80% of the tips” or subscriptions through the site’s fan club program, Corey Price, Pornhub’s vice president, told Modern Consensus in an email. 

How do the models feel about getting paid in tethers? “To be clear,” Price said, “models can still be paid in other methods that are USD direct payments like direct deposit and check. That said, the reception to this announcement by the models has been very positive overall. They appreciate our commitment to expanding our payment options.”

Tether controversy

Tether is also a bit controversial. Today, there are lots of stablecoins—virtual currencies pegged to fiat assets—available on the market. But by far the most popular and widely traded is tether, issued by a company of the same name. There are, at this point, more than $4.6 billion worth of tethers on the market, according to Messari’s Real Volume

But what’s behind those tethers remains a big question. Tether and sister company Bitfinex, a popular offshore cryptocurrency exchange, have been embroiled in an ongoing court battle with the New York Attorney General’s office since April 2019. The NYAG claims the companies committed fraud by misrepresenting how much money actually backed the digital currency. 

In the meantime, that likely won’t stop many of Pornhub’s 115 million daily porn fans from using tethers to pay for adult entertainment. 


(Updated on Jan. 24, 2020, at 9:40 a.m. with comments from Corey Price, Pornhub’s vice president.

Updated on Jan. 26, 2020, at 11:50 a.m. to note that tether became available on Tron last year.)



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Amy Castor has more than 20 years' experience in journalism. Her work on crypto and blockchain has appeared in consumer and trade publications throughout the U.S., including CoinDesk, Forbes, Bitcoin Magazine, and The Block.