Exclusive interview with AEN founder Robin Bos at cryptonews.comaentoken
Exclusive interview with AEN founder Robin Bos at cryptonews.com, an international news website dedicated to Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
Original Dutch article can be found here.
A few weeks ago, a group of over twenty-five large Dutch erotic websites and producers launched their own ‘erotic bitcoin’. The launch is the prelude to the first decentralized online sex network in the world. Visitors to affiliated sites can, among other things, protect their privacy much better. We spoke with the director of the Adult Entertainment Network, Robin Bos, about this project.
Porn and Crypto is not a combination that we had expected. How did this happen?
Actually, as long as I can remember, we as an industry are struggling with the stigma that even in 2018 still sticks to the subject of “sex”. In short, it means that all mainstream companies do not want to be associated with us, do not want to cooperate with us, or even ban us completely.
Think of banks that refuse us as a customer, making it impossible to arrange the most simple (government-mandated) matters, such as opening a business account. Or platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, which refuse us to advertise with them. They also make it almost impossible for us to use social media. Also important: the constant fight with payment companies such as Visa, Mastercard, Paypal… there are literally thousands of customers who want to pay for our – fully legal – services, but these companies literally forbid us to accept the money. And since the majority of all services are handled via the internet these days, as a company you will lose 90% of your turnover if you can not offer payment methods such as Ideal and credit card on your websites.
In practice, we spend half or more of our time arranging, setting up and maintaining our payment methods. And even if you meet all, sometimes bizarre, conditions imposed by the financial institutions, it is often a matter of time before problems arise. If a new director or account manager is appointed for example… if that person has nothing to do with “sex” or finds it “dirty”, there is a good chance they ban you as a customer without giving any reason. And there is absolutely nothing you can do here, which is very frustrating.
Because of this whole thing, I am constantly looking for alternative payment options. That is why I discovered Bitcoin in 2011-2012. In the beginning, this was anything but successful, simply because no consumer had ever heard of it, understood it, and therefore did not use it for that reason. That is also the biggest problem with alternative payment methods: customers are so accustomed to pay with credit card, that they simply drop out if you come up with something relatively unknown like Paysafecard or Bitcoin. It really took years before Bitcoin was used by our customers at all. The hype of 2017 of course set things up a bit and we now see the start of worldwide adoption of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
In addition to using cryptocurrencies as a means of payment, we have also deepened ourselves in blockchain technology in general. We discovered that it offered enormous potential for the optimization of other facets within our company structure, such as lowering the overall costs. Especially hosting and bandwidth costs play a big role here.
In a nutshell this is the reason that we as an industry, but certainly also I as a person, ended up in the blockchain world …
How would you describe the AEN Token for people who are not known in the world of crypto / blockchain?
AEN stands for “Adult Entertainment Network,” and that actually says exactly what the project is all about. By joining forces and working together with our partners and major international players from the same industry (instead of seeing them as a competitor) , and at the same time using new technologies such as blockchain, we are capable of delivering a worldwide porn network. In simple words: everyone who adds value to the network will be rewarded proportionally. Whether you’re making films, doing webcam shows, placing reviews, promoting models or help with storing content … everyone has their own function, value. And all these components together are crucial for the road to success. The aim is to create a fair ecosystem, where not only the platform owners fill their pockets, but an ecosystem in which everybody gets a fair slice of the pie.
Are you satisfied with the first developments of the AEN Token?
Yes! But I also find it important to mention that not everything has gone as planned. Logically, we are walking a path that has not been walked on before. So we ran into quite a few things that we simply did not expect. For example, we have been struggling with our marketing approach for a long time.
When we talk about ICO promotion, things like the use of influencers, promotion via Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Medium and press releases on websites like Cointelegraph.com and Coindesk.com play a huge role. 99% of all blockchain projects use paid marketing companies that mainly arrange “fake” followers. We absolutely did not want to do this, but the problem is that if all other parties around you do it, you are actually being forced to join this vague promotion circuit as well. Do not forget that most people don’t see the difference between real and fake/paid promotion, with the result that these kinds of practices are still being rewarded. And it also works psychologically: when people visit your Facebook page and see that there are only 3 followers, many people run away. However, if they see that thousands of people have liked your page, they are more inclined to participate too.
The same applies to paid press releases. 99% of all press releases that you see on the international bitcoin and cryptocurrency websites are just paid promotion. It is no longer about the projects, but about the highest bidder. Websites ask up to $ 20,000 for posting a press release. The same applies to influencers: a celebrity like John Mcafee, for example, asks $ 250,000 to send out one single tweet via his Twitter account. It’s bizarre! And I’m really not that naïve, but now that I am in the middle of the action, I really see that the whole world revolves around money. You do not want to know how many journalists and other parties indicate that anything is possible as long as you bring a big bag of money. This is also the reason why we are a great supporter of regulation. The crypto world is currently just the Wild West, where the ones who scream the loudest or have the deepest pockets are winning.
Anyway, all other developments are very positive. Perhaps nice to mention: the Dutch blockchain community is really very helpful. Really fantastic! For example, we work together with a number of other parties from the Netherlands that also run an ICO. We exchange advice, experience, tips and help each other where necessary / possible. In many regular sectors you often see that companies see each other as a competitor. In the blockchain world you see that many parties look for each other, cooperate with each other and make use of each other’s strength. That is really great!
Because the majority of our team members are based in the Netherlands, we also consciously choose to outsource all external help that we need to Dutch companies. This is not only useful for ourselves (doing face-to-face business makes things a lot easier and more familiar), but with this we hope to contribute indirectly to expanding and optimizing the Dutch blockchain industry.
What do you think are the biggest benefits for users and entrepreneurs?
In addition to benefits such as improved privacy and security, freedom is one of the most important aspects for users. The AEN ecosystem is set up in such a way that users can and may decide how, in what form and to what extent they want to be part of the network. After all, each user is unique, with his or her own demands and objectives. One is willing to pay for premium content, others might prefer a discount or free access in exchange for promotion or content storage, just to name a few. And users and models that have their earnings paid out in tokens, for example, do not have to pay a processing fee or commission. By way of comparison: with existing platforms such as Livejasmin.com and Chaturbate.com, users pay between 40% – 60% in commissions to the owner.
By combining the best of existing technologies with new technologies such as blockchain, we are able to minimize the costs for users.. or even completely abolish them if they opt for our blockchain methods. Forcing users to work with blockchain technology is not the right approach though. We have therefore deliberately chosen to offer our users a choice and reward them if they choose to use our blockchain solutions. Besides freedom for the user, this approach is also important for the AEN business model. The mass has not completely embraced blockchain technology yet. This simply needs time. Being a company, we believe it is important not to exclude any potential customer. We also want to serve users who are not yet familiar with blockchain technology. Hence a conscious choice to combine both worlds and gradually work towards a completely decentralized network.
If we look at the benefits of entrepreneurs, then the greatest opportunities are in the area of cost savings. In addition, the AEN network offers a direct link with companies from the same industry: lines are short, which makes it possible to switch faster and collaborations can be started up or expanded more quickly and easily. The platform also offers the possibility to promote and market products and services and thus not only increase their brand recognition, but also increase their turnover. Finally, I would like to mention that many entrepreneurs are still a bit skeptical about blockchain technology. Others simply do not have time to dive into it. The AEN platform offers them the opportunity to explore the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in a low-threshold way.
What are your plans for the coming months / years in the field of crypto / blockchain?
First of all, our priority is to roll out our projects and to further optimize them in the coming months where necessary. We already have some plans in mind, but given the speed at which the market is evolving, we try to focus on the present first. And there is so much work involved already, that we really do not have to get bored anytime soon 🙂
But, when I look at the current progress of the market, I expect that much attention will be shifted to regulations, audits and safety. Optimizing reliability. For our project, but certainly also for the industry in general. Of course it will be great if we can create the largest sex network in the world, but at least as important is our aim to show that companies that use blockchain technology, and therefore also companies that used an ICO, ITO or IPO for fundraising can actually be profitable, even in the long term. That would be good for both our project and the general trust in blockchain and blockchain related projects.
What would you like to see differently in the blockchain world in the Netherlands?
As mentioned above, I am generally very pleased with the blockchain world in the Netherlands. When we talk about things that I would like to see differently, I end up with the financial institutions again. We are now seeing the same thing as what we are struggling with in the sex industry. Many financial institutions are starting to ban blockchain related activities. For example, Rabobank and ABN Amro have already closed many accounts of companies and private individuals that trade in bitcoin. The high probability of money laundering, fraud and tax evasion are often used as an argument. But the banks are not acting fair at all. Two years ago, ABN Amro was, for example, completely against Bitcoin. Less than half a year later they were the main sponsor of a big bitcoin event in Amsterdam. And tomorrow things can be different again. The problem with these types of institutions is that they only seem to look at their own image and brand popularity.
Furthermore, I miss a real platform where Dutch blockchain enthusiasts and investors can come together. You do have a few relatively small communities, but in general the majority of knowledge sharing takes place on the international forums. Perhaps this is because almost all Dutch people can handle the English language perfectly, but still, a real Dutch blockchain hub would be handy.
Do you have more projects on the agenda besides the AEN Token project?
Yes, I have been approached by various companies who also want to step into the blockchain world. At the moment I advise and supervise a new blockchain project from Dutch soil that focuses on the gaming and gambling industry. This project will launch in a few months from now.