By Nathan Smale

Over the last two editions of EROS we have covered the general introduction to blockchain and questioned if you should even care about it. In Part 1, we looked at how you can use cryptocurrency to increase your revenue if you are trading online (and since then, much has been written about cryptocurrency as the prices have returned to normal after a pretty crazy ride 12 months ago). In Part 2, we looked at how business owners could approach cryptocurrency to directly impact their bottom line. Part 3 will focus less on using cryptocurrency for payments and more on blockchain for functionality.

In this installment, we will look slightly deeper into blockchain and what else it can be used for rather than just paying for things. Regardless of people’s thoughts around the price and value of cryptocurrencies, the underlying technology is truly remarkable. Think of it like: Even if you don’t like reality TV, the television is still an amazing invention. I am still a big believer that 99% of the world don’t need to understand ‘how’ blockchain works, but it is important to understand what it can do for you.

Ethereum is one of the best known blockchains and it has a very innovative feature: The ability to execute a “smart contract”. A smart contract is simply a set of outcomes that happen automatically if and when a specific set of criteria is met. People are using these smart contracts in new ways everyday, one of the big advantages is that they can be verified upfront and once underway they cannot be altered. An example of how this technology is used is in gambling: Two parties can fund a smart contract that will release the funds to the winner once the result is public, and once they commence the contract, neither party can back out of the deal or refuse to pay out.

That is all well and good, but what are some of the ways blockchain and these smart contracts will work their way into the adult industry? The following is a list of five ways outside of payments that blockchain could benefit the industry:

  1. ID and Age Verification
  2. Privacy and Reputation
  3. Supply Chain Management
  4. Personal Protection and Safety
  5. Copyright Protection

Most of us in Australia are watching what’s happening in the UK with age verification. Companies like AV Secure are using blockchain to securely store customer records so that consumers can both verify their age and maintain their anonymity. “Blockchain is important to the adult industry because anonymity is key. Under no circumstances, does anyone need a repeat of the Ashley Madison data leak and as we only place an anonymous age credential on the chain, we know that the customer is protected from any data breach that would ever reveal their identity. In addition, we have an inability to track a user journey and whilst the UK law is designed to prevent the underage accessing such content, the real focus is on protecting the consumer” says Steve Winyard of AV Secure. You will no doubt see a lot more of AV Secure in Australia in the years to come.

An extension of the Age Verification application for organisations is the ability for individuals to selectively disclose information to each other, or to prove they have disclosed that information to someone they both trust without having to reveal all of the information.  This could be used to add levels of safety and security in dating, swinging or escorting where people want to establish trust without exposing themselves personally. If two parties who have connected online are meeting in the real world, they can prove that an independent third party has sighted their ID and holds a record of it but they never have to hand over any documents that contains their address (which could compromise their safety).

There are a lot of blockchain projects that are focussing on supply chain to minimise risks of counterfeit products (including componentry), identifying stock shrinkage, maintaining a record of quality assurance from raw material to stock on your shelves and many more implementations. Since blockchain does such a great job in creating a ledger that everyone can view but not alter after the fact, it really is a great solution for this part of business operations. These might not be a big sexy projects that people talk about on the news when they talk about crypto but they can make a long term impact on your bottom line.

In terms of content production, there are opportunities to use blockchain to keep an open accurate record of performer testing and agreements regarding scenes and conditions for content production. I don’t specifically know of any projects working on this currently for the adult industry but I have spoken to many parties who are looking to innovate in this space. It may even up on our roadmap in the future as an extension of the work we are doing with some third party companies to allow individuals to track and reveal their sexual health history to prospective partners.

A huge focus for any industry that creates amazing content is how to effectively protect that content so you can maximise the monetisation of that content. There are many startups looking to do it for adult but companies like Ujo have a focus on music and are investing heavily in their blockchain teams. “The industry deserves the best protection for their hard work, blockchain is the best technology we can see to protect that in the future” said Jesse Grushack from Ujo. “Blockchain has the potential to monetize digital content in a way that the internet was supposed to provide. Digital content and the remixes or derivatives or sampling that comes with it can be protected because you know exactly who owns it and monetized in ways that were just not cost effective before,” he says.

That is a just a selection of ways that you might start to see blockchain enter the adult industry other than payments. Like most new technologies, it isn’t always important to know the technical details yourself but if you start to learn what benefits it can provide to you, you can find experts to help you implement it for your business.