'Sex-to-Earn' Startup Thinks People Will Fuck for Crypto

SEXN promises to pay you in crypto when you're having sex—and it's already making money, even if it hasn't delivered anything yet.
The Condom and Masturbation Toy NFTs being sold by SEXN.
Screenshots via SEXN

The Web3 boom has generated a plethora of complex token-based business models that promise riches: From play-to-earn, to move-to-earn, and now sex-to-earn. 

A cryptocurrency startup called SEXN (most likely a play on the popular move-to-earn running app STEPN) is hoping to convince people that sex-to-earn is not only functionally possible—through a series of biometric monitors, apps, and NFTs—but profitable. 

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SEXN offers “two of the indispensable things that humans love most: sex and money,” according to the company’s Twitter bio. Similar to play-to-earn standard-bearer Axie Infinity, users will first buy tiered NFTs that allow them to earn tokens. It’s a concept that’s banking on the idea that when it comes time to get intimate with oneself or others, users will stop the action, start a sex-timer on their phones in order to earn the company’s own tokens, the Sex Orgasm Token ($SOT) which is supposed to launch this week. 

The sex-to-earn model, like play-to-earn, where users have to complete in-game tasks in order to earn cryptocurrency, promises rewards based on how much effort you put into it. Rarely do these types of incentives actually pay off; in one recent example of a spectacular failure of the model,  Axie Infinity’s users created a worker/boss hierarchy for earning, the price of the token earned by players collapsed, and then it got hacked by North Korea. 

In SEXN’s case, that “effort” will be quantified, its developers propose, through an app connected to a wristband. 

At the moment, it’s unclear how real SEXN is, or if it will ever live up to its promises. Everything about this project raises eyebrows, from the vague roadmap (illustrated by cartoon women who are either blowing bubbles or look like Bowsette, and men made to look like nerds or creepy pickup artists) to the overly-complex earnings system. 

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Screenshot of the SEXN roadmap illustrations

Screenshot of the SEXN roadmap illustrations. Via sexn.finance

Meanwhile, SEXN is selling NFTs on its own marketplace: dozens of identical cartoon condoms and vibrators. Both types of NFT cost 0.8 Binance Coin, or around $259 USD. SEXN has already launched a governance token, $SST, that had a presale followed by a precipitous crash in value. The presale for $SOT has already raised over $125,000. 

A whitepaper published to SEXN’s website vaguely outlines the roadmap: a wearable device test was planned for early 2022, which the whitepaper implies would be integrated with a yet-to-launch app. 

There will be four “modes” for earning crypto on SEXN, according to the project’s whitepaper, each of which earn tokens at different rates and require users to own special combinations of NFTs to unlock. The NFTs are illustrations of condoms, dildos, and other sex toys, and holding them unlock different modes.

Coitus Mode is for “Condom” NFT holders; users will smash the start button in the app right before sex, and “the app will determine whether you are having sex based on the biometric information from the sensors.” Masturbation Mode only requires users to wear their tracking bracelet, and earns fewer tokens. Sadism & Masochism Mode “was under development due to the latent risk and professional requests,” and requires a “professional entry exam,” according to the site—the details of what the exam entails or how to take it, however, aren’t explained. Super Mode is for marathon sex sessions. 

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Motherboard reached out to admin on the SEXN Telegram channel and asked about the technology they’re using. “Once you start sex2earn you need you[sic] own smart watch and band,” the person behind the Telegram account said. They claim to have a plan to keep users from organically creating a renting system, as Axie users did, but didn’t explain what that plan was. In response to rumors that this project is a rug pull, they said, “We will try our best to push this project go.” When asked about the $SST token’s crash, they said it “went good actually, 10x from presale, even now is down little bit but still higher than list price.”

According to a Q&A session viewed by technology blog Grid, SEXN’s founder, who goes by Max, said that GPS sensors in the wearables will be able to differentiate between sex and other aerobic activities like running. 

“There’ll be no significant movement of GPS position during sex of course,” Max said, according to Grid. “So the heart rate growth curve of sex is totally different from other sports, and the change curve of breath is different. This oxygen saturation with sex is different from other sports as well. The hands action during sex is different from other sports. So if you’re thinking that you can get the NFT and just go running because you’re sweating because your body temperature is getting up the app will judge that you are not doing the act, therefore, you will not be rewarded with a token.”

Messages from an admin in SEXN’s Telegram channels repeat this line about wearables several times: “SEXN app will determine whether you are having sex based on the biometric information from the sensors, such as wearable bracelets, watch or mobile phone.” 

Aside from the serious privacy issues this presents—which sextech and dating app companies have had to grapple with for years—this isn’t even the first time a startup’s tried to quantify sex with a wearable: SexFit was a Fitbit for your penis, and Lovely was a cockring that counted strokes. Even if everything SEXN promises actually comes to pass, it’s another reformulation of a failing model that investors are currently warning each other about as being highly risky.  

Sex workers who actually use cryptocurrency to navigate discriminatory financial systems are way ahead of SEXN, without any of the goofy heart-rate wristbands or Coitus Modes. And if we’ve learned anything from “sexual consent, but make it blockchain” startups over the years, it’s that writing your sexual activity to a global transaction ledger is almost always a misguided move.