Sex Worker-Led Payment Platform Shuts Down After Being Cut Off by Processor

Crypto payment processor SpankPay announced on Monday that it would shut down because of financial discrimination.
​Image credit: Roberto Daza / VICE
Image credit: Roberto Daza / VICE

Adult industry cryptocurrency payment platform SpankPay announced on Monday that it is closing down, after facing the same banking discrimination it aimed to help sex workers avoid.

“After a long and difficult consideration, we have decided to close down SpankPay, our crypto payment processor that we built as a safe haven for our community,” SpankPay tweeted. “Rest assured your money is safe and we’ll get it to you as soon as possible.” 


SpankPay is the payments side of the blockchain Spankchain, a sex worker-led alternative to more mainstream cryptocurrency exchanges. Spankchain started development around 2017, and SpankPay launched in 2019.

Wyre Payments, the company’s upstream payment processor, terminated SpankPay’s account because Wyre’s new payment processor,, doesn’t allow processing for payments related to sexual businesses, SpankPay said. 

In February, payments through SpankPay were suspended because Wyre indefinitely terminated Spankpay, alleging it was in violation of “third-party payment processor or network rules,” according to a legal letter sent from Wyre that SpankPay posted to Twitter.

“Operating SpankPay in a hostile banking environment has always been challenging, but the escalating attacks have become untenable for our small team and the niche market we serve,” SpankPay tweeted in February.

The feeling of waking up to news that payment processors have dumped the company is not an unfamiliar one to Allie Eve Knox, a sex worker and advisor to SpankPay. Knox has been banned from every mainstream payment app available today, including PayPal, Square, Circle, Cashapp, and Venmo, and uses crypto as a way to continue to live and pay the bills. Sex workers face near-constant deplatforming, loss of income, and instability in their work as a result of discriminatory financial institutions and laws. Some have turned to crypto in recent years as a way around discrimination from traditional banks, and as a necessity as their options for finances online dwindle.


“We just have to keep going,” Knox said. “And it's you know, that's the common song and dance that the whores do. ‘Okay, we were fucked yesterday, we get up tomorrow, and fix it.” 

In December, Knox and Ameen Soleimani, co-founder of Spankchain, joined adult industry advocacy group The Free Speech Coalition on Congressional visits to discuss financial discrimination against sex workers with legislators. 

“With so many recent conversations about the banking system and crypto, it was critical to have people who could talk specifically to the mechanics of the discrimination as well as its impact,” Mike Stabile, spokesperson for FSC, told Motherboard. “We met with Senate and House offices and committees, and were shockingly well received by both sides of the aisle. While the loss of SpankPay is a tragedy for adult businesses and creators, I can only hope that it spurs Congress to take more immediate action.” 

Knox told Motherboard that following SpankPay’s announcement, the sex worker community has been supportive.

“We were seeing so much love yesterday, we were just like, fuck, we're onto something—we still need this, we haven't changed our opinion on crypto,” she said. “We still believe in this. This is still a solution. We just have to fix some of these issues.”

Wyre and did not reply to requests for comment.