Home Estate Planning Onlyfans challenger created by Cambridge PhD grad sees rapid sign-up growth

Onlyfans challenger created by Cambridge PhD grad sees rapid sign-up growth

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A challenger to Onlyfans has already seen a wave of sign-ups as it offers content creators greater profits than the highly successful adult entertainment platform.

Jessica Van Meir, who has a PhD from Cambridge University, said her platform Mintstars has seen more than 600 user sign-ups in the past four days and, as of last week, it had a similar number of creators.

The 28-year-old told City A.M. her platform is designed to give the power back to online sex workers, who she says are being debanked and having a large portion of their profits taken by Onlyfans.

“Minstars is built to protect our creators from financial discrimination and censorship and from egregious fees,” said Van Meir, who is now researching sex workers’ rights at Harvard.

Through her research, Van Meir said she came to see the “immense amount” of financial discrimination that online sex workers are facing, “even though what they’re doing is completely legal.”

She said sex workers are increasingly having their PayPal and cash app accounts shut down as well as being debanked – when a customer’s bank accounts are closed.

“A lot of the people doing this are students or their mothers, and this is their livelihood,” said Van Meir.

Her web-based platform – the App Store does not allow platforms “used primarily for pornographic content” – only takes a five per cent cut of creators’ content, compared to 20 per cent taken by Onlyfans.

Mintstars can do this using crypto payment rails, allowing fans to pay with a normal card payment. The platform then converts it to USDC, a stable crypto coin, which creators can cash out directly to their bank accounts.

“And that enables us to offer much lower fees, lower censorship and provide creators immediate payouts and security. They’re not going to get their accounts shut down,” Van Meir explained.

UK-based MintStars, which calls itself a ‘sex-positive NFT subscription platform’, was co-founded last year by Van Meir and entrepreneur Daniel Sargent, whose partner had their Onlyfans content stolen and pirated.

Onlyfans hit pre-tax profits of £417m in 2022. As of then, the site had 3.2m content creators and around 239m ‘fans’. The so-called porn unicorn hit a $1bn valuation in 2021 with its platform that allows anyone to earn money off homemade ‘spicy’ content.

Globally, the adult entertainment market is expected to surpass $96bn (£76bn) by 2032, according to Allied Market Research.

Onlyfans has come under fire for the rampant exploitation, online abuse, piracy and underage users that exist on its platform. Former chief executive Amrapali Gan has rejected some of the claims, saying in 2022 that the company is “truly the safest and most inclusive social media platform.”

Van Meir said a lot of the debanking happens because banks are concerned about trafficking and revenge porn, “which are serious issues.”

“But unfortunately, the efforts to protect people from those issues are resulting in an even larger problem, where people who are doing this consensually and voluntarily are completely losing their ability to engage in a legal business,” she added.

An official petition to have the issue of ensuring sex workers are not excluded from banking services debated in Parliament currently has 2,600 signatures.

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