Bitcoin basics for sexworkers

Bitcoin. What even is it

Bitcoin is a type of currency that is virtual, you might hear it called cryptocurrency. Think of it as internet money. You can’t hold it in your hand or stuff it under your actual mattress but it works in some physical stores and online sites that are set up to take bitcoin like any other money.

Benefits

You get paid in bitcoin nearly instantly

It is irreversible. Once you are paid it is yours, the person who paid you can’t ask for a chargeback or a refund from a bank

Most (nearly all) bitcoin services don’t care what you do for a living. You can get paid for things that credit card processors won’t allow or charge a premium for

The value of bitcoin changes. It’s like comparing Australian dollars to US dollars, British pounds or Japanese Yen. It’s value could up down between getting paid and converting it to cash

You can buy things directly with bitcoin, even from Amazon or paying BPay bills

Downsides

It’s not well known, clients will need help in understanding and paying with it and may not trust it at all

It is irreversible. If you make a mistake and give the wrong payment details that money has disappeared forever

The value of bitcoin changes. It’s like comparing Australian dollars to US dollars, British pounds or Japanese Yen. It’s value could go down before you can get it as cash in your bank account

It’s not as straightforward as getting cash in your hand, there are steps and possible delays before it shows up in a bank account. If you don’t have ID or a bank account it is harder but not impossible to convert to cash

Not many physical stores will take it

You need a smartphone or computer and internet access

It’s on the internet and that is a land full of hackers and scammers. Don’t keep your bitcoin in an exchange and only use reputable sellers and products

How it works

I’m not going to touch on the background, mathematics and science behind how a bitcoin is created and moved around. It’s not really necessary and we manage to use a modern banking system without in-depth knowledge of economic theory. If you are interested there are many rabbitholes on google to fall down.

Instead here are the steps that happen when using bitcoin. I’ll explain them in more detail

Get a bitcoin wallet

If you own bitcoins you will have a private key which is like an weird looking internet address that’s a register of your bitcoins. You’ll need a program called a wallet to manage your private keys and bitcoins.

“As with paper money, you can save Bitcoins in a wallet, which stores the public and private keys needed to identify the Bitcoins and execute a transaction. These can be digital wallets that exist in secure cloud environments or on a computer, or they can take physical form. If a wallet is hacked or you lose your private Bitcoin key, you no longer have access to that Bitcoin. Possession of the public address and private key amounts to possession of the Bitcoin.” http://venturebeat.com/2014/02/17/bitcoin-for-idiots-an-introductory-guide/

So a wallet manages your bitcoin by using a private key and a public key. The public key is the one you can share for payments or receiving bitcoin and you probably won’t ever see or use your private one.

There are many excellent wallets for smartphones, desktops and web access. For a good list try https://bitcoin.org/en/choose-your-wallet I’m going to suggest for desktops/web applications (note that web based may potentially be less secure)

and for smartphones

but check out the options and find something you are comfortable with. And as always READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS! I haven’t gone over all of them yet and they may change.

*Update: check closely that your wallet doesn’t have anti-sexworkers policies. Coin Cafe and Coinbase should be avoided. Also be aware that many wallets have “must be legal in your location’ terms in their legal policies and some are allowing credit card transfers and so have the same content restrictions as Visa and Mastercard.

Buy bitcoin

Generally speaking some bitcoin wallets will let you transfer money from your bank account to your wallet. Note that to use your wallet with a bank account you will most likely need to meet identity verification requirement https://support.coinjar.com/hc/en-us/articles/202909955-Verifying-your-identity for example, essentially government issued photo ID and a statement showing your full name and current residential address and it could take a few days to process. If you don’t want to do this see below for buying bitcoin with cash.

I use Coinjar if I’m just wanting to buy online and once your account is setup, verified and made an initial purchase it is very quick. There are no fees for receiving bitcoin.

If you are a cammer and use Payoneer for payouts there are some sellers on Paxful who will trade USD from a payoneer account to bitcoin without having to do the usual currency conversions but they will all have different buy rates and conditions. WARNING! Be careful with who you trade with. Check reputations and avoid scams.

Cash options for buying bitcoin

It is possible to buy bitcoins without a bank account or without linking your wallet to a bank account.

Bitcoin Australia https://bitcoin.com.au/order?buy take payments for bitcoin by creating an order online and then doing an over the counter deposit at any newsagents across Australia. It is a brilliant service and the one I tell clients to use if they don’t already have bitcoins (wallets like Blockchain let you make multiple wallet addresses so you can make one for them if they baulk at setting one up for themselves). Just note too that there is a 5% fee for this.

Local bitcoins https://localbitcoins.com/ is a marketplace for trading bitcoins locally for cash or online payments of your choice, you can search by location and see who will accept cash or over the counter bank deposit. Please read https://localbitcoins.com/guides/security for security information. WARNING! Be careful with who you trade with. Check reputations and avoid scams.

Bitcoin ATM’s exist as well but there are not many of them. Try http://abatech.com.au/ (requires government ID even for cash) and http://coinatmradar.com/ or http://www.bitrocket.co for an ATM search.

For more information on buying bitcoins try  https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Buying_Bitcoins_(the_newbie_version)

Get paid in bitcoin

This is the information I give to clients for paying a deposit with Bitcoin. My wallet has single use addresses so this changes every time but this is what it will look like.

If you already use bitcoin transfer the equivalent of $50 AUD to my wallet.

My wallet address is 19STVizcBaphWS6h7zq5bE8WdrgarFGcbX
Or scan this QR code

booking payment

If you don’t use bitcoin you may make a cash deposit at participating newsagents using this service https://bitcoin.com.au/order?buy

Use the search facility on the page in the above link to check there is a nearby newsagent

Enter $50 AUD, your phone number and email address and my wallet address

19STVizcBaphWS6h7zq5bE8WdrgarFGcbX (YOU MUST COPY AND PASTE THIS WALLET ADDRESS, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TYPE IT IN. IF IT IS INCORRECT I WON’T RECEIVE THE PAYMENT AND IT IS NOT RETRIEVABLE)

Choose either newsagent (locations can be searched) or bank and make a cash deposit within 2 hours.

Remember this is my wallet address and QR code, you will need to put your own in. The QR codes are the simplest way of sharing a wallet address and they can be scanned by another wallet or the payment facility at the participating newsagents. So if I wanted to pay you bitcoins I would just open my wallet app on my smartphone and scan the QR code created by yours.

Use bitcoin

A useful thing for us with bitcoin is to pay Backpage or Cracker ads.

On cracker and backpage (they are basically the same) log into your account and when you get to a payment section, or choose to add credits, you will bring up a page looking like this (it’s slightly different now because they have more options but it’s roughly the same), you will need to expand the bitcoin section. Backpage

On the new screen enter a credit amount and then I find it easiest to choose to generate a QR code.

QR Codes

Instead of typing in a long Bitcoin address, you can also use QR codes to speed up the process. When you scan a QR code with your smartphone, the details of a transaction will instantly be placed into the various “send” fields of your Bitcoin wallet. This is especially useful when shopping with your smartphone. While you’re going through the checkout process, a QR code will usually be displayed on your computer or a merchant’s POS device. All you have to do is scan the QR code and press “send” to complete the payment. http://bitcoin.cex.io/how-to-pay-with-bitcoins/

This will give you a page like this which has a QR code that can be scanned by a mobile wallet. I recommend getting you wallet on your phone ready to go before generating the QR code because the invoice page on backpage/cracker has been known to time out. If you’re using a desktop wallet on the same computer you’re doing your backpage ad with its probably easier to just copy the wallet address and paste that into your wallet.

Backpage3

Once you’ve done this the backpage screen will change shortly and say you’ve paid. And that’s it.

Another useful way of using them directly is with Purse which lets you buy off Amazon with a discount (I’ve used this, it is great!) and Living Room of Satoshi which lets you pay any BPay bills with no fees.

 

Turn bitcoin into money

The easiest way I have found for getting from bitcoin into dollars into my bank account is with Coinjar. Clients pay me into my Blockchain wallet which is set up with Corrines name and email and is not verified with identification. I then transfer to my Coinjar wallet (which is the same as transferring or paying anyone, I literally just scan my Coinjar QR code with my Blockchain wallet, or copy the wallet address, select how much to transfer and it’s there. My Coinjar account is in my real name, fully verified and linked to my personal bank accounts so I use this to transfer into my bank account. There is a 1% fee for this.

If you are really privacy conscious be aware that all bitcoin transactions are publicly viewable and available online (if you are interested you can see real time transactions here). If you are concerened about transactions between wallets being monitored I would suggest using a mixing service such as https://bitmixer.io/ but to be honest I don’t bother.

Other options could be the Local bitcoins link above and look for selling instead of buying.

Update: I’ve just noticed that the Living Room Of Satoshi do bank transfers to Australian banks now so that could be worth checking out too