The (fun, surprising, industry-disrupting) History of SpankChain

SpankChain
11 min readDec 15, 2023

Emily Pennington // Libby Schultz // SpankChain

“We help people find their yum.”

The adult industry has grown exponentially in recent years, with social evolution, the age of the internet, and the rise of customizable, creator-generated content, helping to quell the once fervent voices of moral disapproval. And yet, many mainstream adult companies lack the integrity needed to become true thought leaders that advocate properly for sex workers. Some are full of panache, modernity and style, but lack integrity, while other old school survivors offer an overly heteronormative approach that doesn’t connect to younger audiences. In short, the industry is still a sloppy mess (and not the fun kind), ripe for disruption.

Though many brands boast strong name recognition, there are few champions in the adult industry that fight to legitimize sex workers, and perhaps most disturbingly, even fewer are planning for our rapidly evolving future as it changes politically, financially, and socially.

Making Waves

In this dynamic landscape, SpankChain has taken the opportunity to create a meaningful impact on the direction of the adult industry and guide our culture’s relationship to sexual expression. It offers a radically inclusive suite of products, ranging from digitally authenticated assets (NFTs) for adult content creators to a payment platform that shirks current financial discrimination tactics and allows creators to take secure, blockchain-supported payments with ease.

Not only will these products help level the playing field for smaller studios and more niche content creators (creating much-needed diversity in the process), they also aim to increase user safety and privacy, by the very nature of how blockchain operates. In addition, SpankChain can and will maintain its status as a political thought leader in the field by supporting causes and organizations–like the Free Speech Coalition–which fights to protect the adult industry and its constitutional rights.

Unlike eyebrow-raising porn purveyors of the past, SpankChain is sex-positive, pro-technology, people-first, and leads with integrity. Guys, gals, and non-binary pals, the future has arrived.

The Fearless Founder: From Chemist to Spank Master

A true visionary in the adult and crypto fields, Ameen Soleimani noticed a huge white space in the realm of secure payments for this multi-billion dollar industry, and founded SpankChain in 2017. The wildest part? He originally trained to be a chemist.

Hailing from a family of activists advocating for social change and fiercely believing the crypto movement to be the future, set out on his new path and joined the crypto industry to work with Joe Lubin at Consensys. After reading the manifesto Meditations on Moloch, his idealism was forever altered. He realized that it wasn’t enough to simply build nice things to create a more utopian version of the future for consumers. In short, he understood that the better things are, the more likely one bad actor is to sweep in and ruin it for everyone else.

To help combat this inherent entropy, Soleimani decided to apply game theory and human incentives when building SpankChain and its suite of offerings, designed to make real, lasting change in crypto and the adult industries at large.

The Mission

SpankChain fights for the inalienable rights of users and creators alike, by building products for the adult industry, making strategic investments, and working with activists and policymakers to improve and evolve our culture’s relationship to sexual expression.

Tackling Moral Hypocrisy

In the past, western society has struggled with the moral hypocrisy outlined by religion (in this case, Christianity), which, either explicitly or implicitly, often shifted politics to control the sexual rights and behaviors of the individual for power and financial gain. Even though the United States is, supposedly, founded on the separation of church and state, loads of morality-based laws and mandates still remain, even as society vehemently outgrows them. For example, 12 states still have sodomy laws on the books, even though they were struck down by the Supreme Court twenty years ago.

Cut to: present day. Though America has made progress on laws related to free speech and adult content, and society is slowly coming around to recognizing its sale and use as part of normal sexual expression, most financial institutions are still allowed to financially discriminate on the basis of career/industry (spoiler alert: this affects the cannabis industry, too). Similarly, the few content platforms and payment solutions that have popped up are basically extorting and exploiting sex workers by taking huge cuts of their earnings, since they know that these performers and producers have few options.

SpankChain’s Fight

Here’s where SpankChain comes in. The company believes that people have a right to make a sex-based living and gain access to legal protections for practicing their trade, they also have a right to the free speech liberties granted to them by the Constitution. Not only that, but website users and viewers of adult content have a right to safe and consensual access to a basic human need. SpankChain wants to promote equity for sex workers and eradicate the negative legal implications and societal shame associated with exploring one’s sexual expression.

Despite the transactional functionality of our products, SpankChain seeks to create a safe and welcoming ecosystem to explore human sexuality in an inclusive, secure, and consensual way. As ambassadors of sex-positivity, the company aims to help destigmatize sexual curiosity, exploration, and expression and help people overcome any internalized shame with respect to sex.

The World Takes Notice: Naughty in the News

Since making a big splash when it first launched in 2017, spawning a lengthy and well-read Forbes article, SpankChain has been lauded in the press as a unique force of activism and positive change in both the crypto and adult industries.

CoinDesk commended the platform in 2018 for its fast disruption, useful payment tools, and thoughtful user experience. Just one year later, in 2019, XBIZ featured SpankChain on its shortlists of emerging and innovative web brands. The company has also been featured on the Adult Video News (AVN) Awards. Soleimani has been interviewed by reporters for VICE’s CRYPTOLAND, and the company has been featured in numerous VICE News articles. As if that wasn’t enough, Decrypt featured an exclusive story on SpankChain’s “plans for global domination.”

To maintain face-to-face contact with leading brands and thinkers in the adult and crypto space, SpankChain has also made in-person appearances at the AVN Awards, DevCon, ETH Denver, ETH Berlin and ETH Amsterdam.

Show Me What You’ve Got: SpankChain’s Past and Present Offerings

SpankChain integrates its core offerings to create a mutually beneficial ecosystem that enables consumers, creators and talent to connect and create the sexually expressed life to which they aspire.

Crypto Titties

In the past, to make a big, sexy splash at the AVN Awards, SpankChain launched a one-time promotion as an early prototype of its suite, CryptoTitties, an adult performer play on wording to the now-viral CryptoKitties, helping performers get paid in crypto and taking control of their money and their rights to financial sovereignty.

SpankLive

In 2018, The Ethereum Foundation hand-picked SpankChain to receive a $420K (get it?) grant to help build a proof of concept product. It was the first company to build an open-source software developer’s kit (SDK) for a noncustodial payment channel hub that ran through the SpankLive camsite. SpankLive is now a legacy product, but SpankChain’s efforts helped the Ethereum Foundation explore blockchain scaling solutions, building a long term alliance with this internationally-recognized organization.

SpankPay

First unleashed to the world in 2019, SpankPay provided a fundamentally new means of monetary exchange online, designed to combat the financial discrimination that sex workers face every day. Tragically, the platform was lost in 2023 when Wyre was acquired by Plaid, and Wyre broke its promise to support SpankChain’s mission. This loss was a betrayal of the very rights SpankChain is fighting for, but the fight is not yet over. The company is in the trenches, seeking opportunities to with Skyprivate to build new crypto payment rails for the adult industry. Stay tuned for exciting new announcements and follow SpankPay’s journey here.

Pop Shots

SpankChain is helping adult creators to make and sell digitally authenticated assets (NFTS, or NF-Titties, as we like to think of them) through its Pop Shots storefront initiative. Spank Pop Shot NFTs are considered one-of-a-kind digital art pieces, due to their unique serial number. Collect them all and reap all the sexy benefits!

SpankMatch

No, it’s not a dating site for adult industry pros! Think of it as a sexy talent directory. SpankMatch is a safe, secure, easy-to-use platform that helps connect verified content creators with one another to facilitate a “content making match.”

SpankMate

SpankChain loves to give back to its community by elevating sex workers and content creators and spreading the good word. SpankChain collaborates with performers in a professional photoshoot, then selects and features a performer in the monthly SpankChain newsletter. To join the SpankChain mailing list, you can sign up here.

Spank University

Spank University (or Spank-U as we like to think of it) is the newest addition to the full suite of SpankChain’s naughty, tech-savvy ecosystem. Launched in November 2023 in celebration of SpankChain’s 6-year anniversary, its mission is to create an educational platform to keep the general public and adult content creators abreast (wink) of all things related to sex work, sex positivity, sex activism, and how to practice safe sex. So far, videos are being produced that highlight the importance of parental content controls on minors’ phones, VPNs in states with unconstitutional age verification laws, and Mgen, a distressing new STI.

SpankVentures

Spank Ventures (the unofficial name for SpankChain’s investing arm) sources funding and donates resources to projects that support the ethos of the SpankChain ecosystem and the adult industry at large. SpankChain consistently supports its performers with early COVID testing, Mgen awareness studies, and giveaways, along with participating in a variety of business ventures.

Some of its current business ventures include:

Moloch DAO — Moloch DAO is the original, grant-giving decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) and one of the first protocols to successfully break the red tape and provide alternatives to venture capital funding. It was ultimately copied across the Ethereum community, and both Vitalik, founder of Ethereum, and Joe Lubin, supported this project, to the hefty tune of $700K.

Connext — This company worked extensively with SpankChain on Spank.Live to build state channels (blockchain second-layer solutions). These allow a group of participants to perform unlimited private transactions off-chain.

Reflexer — Reflexer is one of the first algorithmic stablecoins. Rather than being pegged to the US dollar, Reflexer is a lending platform that is collateralized by Ether, and its value is automatically stabilized through a controller mechanism and arbitrage trading. This digital currency plays fair (unlike the Fed), because it’s automated through a smart contract.

Bitwave — Bitwave is a pioneer in crypto accounting software, combining audit-proven tax and accounting automation software with workflow and process expertise. Essentially, it helps businesses manage cryptocurrency tax, accounting, and compliance.

Optimism — SpankChain is an early adopter of Optimism, a Layer 2 (L2) Optimistic rollup network for Ethereum that’s designed to provide lightning-fast transactions at a fraction of the ordinary cost. The OP token is used for governance and can be bought or sold on Coinbase and other exchanges.

MintStars ­– MintStars is a low-censorship content platform that helps creators make and sell NFTs and fans make money by simply reselling them on the platform.

Mountain Protocol — Mountain Protocol is the issuer of USDM, the first permissionless yield-bearing stablecoin. USDM is currently only supported on the Ethereum blockchain.

HAI — This multi-collateral, CDP-minted stablecoin is a fork of RAI. It uses a PI controller to induce stability, and it’s launching on Optimism’s L2. HAI will likely have a diverse collateral base including LSDs and other DeFi-native tokens.

Rally the Troops: Activism and the Free Speech Coalition

As a donor, board member, and longtime supporter of the Free Speech Coalition (the non-partisan, nonprofit trade association for the adult industry), SpankChain is actively supporting the political fights and wins that will create a safer, less discriminatory space for sex workers of all stripes. This is a prime example of the company’s stance on leadership through activism; SpankChain is walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

SpankChain has supported recent, splashy efforts like the Capitol Hill Fly-In Day, in which large numbers of adult industry professionals took to Congress to discuss how current laws negatively affect their legally sanctioned businesses.

The primary battles that the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) is currently fighting are those of unconstitutional age verification laws and financial discrimination. On the age verification front, the organization has launched a handy bill tracker, which shows which states have introduced age verification bills. So far, they are beginning to rack-up important wins in this arena, like securing a preliminary injunction against one such bill in Texas, a massive consumer market. These laws are seen as unconstitutional, because they present an unfair hurdle to adults accessing constitutionally-protected free speech.

The right to sovereign money

The FSC is also reaching across party lines to help fight financial discrimination. At the moment, institutions can’t legally discriminate based on race or gender… so why are they allowed to pick and choose who can bank with them based on profession? For members of the adult industry (and other fields that the big banks deem “risky” or “immoral”), accounts are routinely threatened or closed with no warning–or denied altogether. This makes it difficult for them to operate as what they are–legal, tax-paying members of society. It needs to stop.

A message from your friends at SpankChain:

“SpankChain was founded on a sex positive mission. Our goal is to fight adult industry discrimination, empower sex workers, and normalize porn. Many people enjoy the benefits of sex work, while taking away basic rights of the performers. This puts performers at the mercy of companies that take advantage of them. This power imbalance between performers and hypocritical institutions must change. SpankChain removes opportunistic intermediaries from the economic equation by creating money streams and services that service the performers who make the industry possible.”

Thank you for being a part of our community. To hear the latest news and follow SpankPay’s resurrection, you can sign up for our mailing list and follow us on X.

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SpankChain

A cryptoeconomic powered adult entertainment ecosystem built on the Ethereum network.