why Pornhub is adopting altcoins

Note: As part of a job application submitted a little while before the publication of this article, I was asked to write an article on the topic of Pornhub adopting PumaPay. This is the article I wrote.

Pornhub, the leader in online pornography distribution, announced last week that it would be adopting its fourth cryptocurrency in five months. The company appears to be looking to add even more crypto support in the near future.

The website began accepting crypto payments in April when it adopted Verge, an anonymity-focused coin with the 41st largest market capitalization among cryptos as of writing. Two months later, Pornhub adopted two more coins, and now PumaPay is next.

Pornhub Vice President of Operations Corey Price said in a statement that PumaPay would make a solid addition to the company’s “growing arsenal of cryptocurrencies,” which also includes Horizen (previously ZenCash) and Tron.

In the early 2000s, porn catalyzed the growth of ecommerce and demand for greater network bandwidth, making it a key force in internet innovation. For this reason, the company’s embracing of PumaPay and other coins could represent a turning point for cryptocurrency adoption.

As decentralized payment systems continue to grow in popularity, cryptocurrencies are especially viable in the adult entertainment industry because they incoroporate more anonymity tools than traditional tender.

— Corey Price, vice president of operations at Pornhub, from a statement posted August 23, 2018

While it is true that cryptocurrencies offer greater anonymity than their fiat counterparts, guaranteeing anonymity when using cryptocurrencies is no trivial task.

This has given rise to coins like Monero that promise anonymity of transactions and complete privacy for users who want such security. PumaPay, Horizen, and Verge each make similar promises, but notably, Tron does not. This has led to criticism that Pornhub is seeking something other than its stated interest in privacy.

Are cryptos paying Pornhub for adoption?

Despite the baseline of crypto security offered by Tron, the developers of the coin do not make promises of its untraceability. This has led skeptics, who question what was behind Pornhub’s decision to adopt the coin, to conclude that the company is only accepting cryptocurrencies that pay substantially for partnership.

After Pornhub’s announcement that it would start accepting Verge, Charlie Lee, the creator of LiteCoin (LTC), said in a tweet that Pornhub should start accepting “real crytocurrencies like BTC, LTC, and XMR.” Pornhub has not directly responded to these criticisms.

Pornhub and their crypto partners do not appear to be commenting, and the details of the adoption agreements are not public. This means that we don’t know whether the creators of Verge, Tron, PumaPay, and Horizen paid Pornhub for their adoption, or whether the company is pursuing adoption of bigger coins (although it should be noted here that Tron has the 11th largest market cap among cryptocurrencies).

Verge and Horizen may not be so secure, either.

While Verge markets itself as a secure transaction platform, the cryptocurrency has been embroiled in controversy, including two 51% attacks in less than two months. Each of the attacks exploited strikingly similar vulnerabilities, and the second took place after the Pornhub partnership was publicly announced, possibly compromising some Pornhub users’ transactions.

Verge is not the only Pornhub-accepted currency to be hacked; before Horizen rebranded from ZenCash, and after the announcement of their Pornhub partnership, the coin was victim to a 51% hack that resulted in a few instances of double-spending, another incident that may have affected Pornhub directly.

Pornhub may yet be lauded for their early adoption of cryptocurrencies, but something for which they can already be credited is their public relations savvy. As the company begins accepting cryptocurrencies, it has set forth a vision of a future where all transactions are made with virtual coins. Sexuality is normalized in this imagined future, and porn sites are among society’s heroes as a result.

Whether Pornhub can actually ignite a cryptocurrency (and or sexual) revolution remains to be seen.