25 Mar 2018 · 4 min read

Bitcoin Has Become a Secrecy Device for Trustless Couples

Lying in a relationship is nothing new. In a 2017 survey, three quarters of Brits admitted to having lied at least once to their partners, while a 2014 survey found that 33% of Americans with joint bank accounts hide money from their partners.

It's into such a deceptive culture that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been born, providing spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends with a fancy new tool for hiding things from their significant others.

And not only is bitcoin now being used by individuals to hide their financial assets from their most 'trusted ones,' but there are emerging signs that it's being used to keep certain 'impure' behaviour under wraps.

However, while bitcoin may indeed be serving as a device that facilitates and amplifies our seemingly inbuilt deceitfulness, it's debatable as to whether cryptocurrencies are making people any more deceitful than they already were. On top of this, the growing popularity of bitcoin means that people are becoming increasingly aware that their partner may have a secret crypto stash.

Bitcoin: no receipts, no credit card bills

The most recent manifestation of bitcoin becoming a secrecy device for couples came last month from Las Vegas. Here, in the appropriately named 'Marriage Capital of the World,' a strip club has opened which lets customers pay using every cryptocurrency listed on Bittrex exchange.

Called The Legends Room, it's even issuing its own Legends (LGD) tokens, which as of writing are trading for USD 0.78 and 0.00007362 BTC. Alluding to why its customers might want to pay using bitcoin, club founder Nick Blomgren explained to Motherboard:

"The first question they ask me in the club when they use a credit card is, 'What does your receipt say on the statement?' So if you can use bitcoin, well, there's no problem."

Taking the concept of using cryptocurrency to hide unflattering behaviour from the wife even further, the most famous/notorious brothel in the world is also planning to accept payments in bitcoin. The Bunny Ranch – also in the state of Nevada – is expecting to introduce bitcoin payments this month, with owner Dennis Hof clearing up any vestigial doubt as to why it and his six other legal brothels are doing so.

“There are people out there that are not coming here because there is not enough anonymity in their credit card, in their debit card, and they don’t have the access to a lot of cash without their wife seeing the withdrawals,” he told International Business Times. “With this [bitcoin], nobody knows. And that’s what the Bunny Ranch is about, privacy and discretion.”

Porn sites and online dating

If bitcoin is good enough for brothels (and British escort services), then it will also come as little surprise that it's also good enough for adult websites and certain webcam services. Many of these have been accepting bitcoin payments for several years, with one of the most recent ventures being the Live Stars webcam platform that will pay its performers using cryptocurrency and provide maximum anonymity for users.

As its team wrote in a December blog post, the blockchain-based platform offers users a distinct advantage over previous webcam sites: "The main difference is complete anonymity guaranteed by the system and replacement of internal payment system with tokens" (our emphasis).

While there's no doubt that many (or perhaps most) of the people using such platforms will be single, there's also plenty of evidence testifying to coupled men using porn and webcam sites.

In fact, there's also a strong indication that people (mostly men) in a relationship use dating sites, something which makes sense of how sites such as Badoo are adopting bitcoin at an accelerating rate (OkCupid did so as far back as 2013).

Public hiding place

Cryptocurrencies aren't useful only in hiding questionable sexual practices, since people are now using their anonymity to hide wealth from partners.

This, at least, is what men's rights activists have recently been urging people to do. While there are no figures on how prevalent this might be as a practice, lawyers have been warning about this possibility since 2014, and there are a growing number of 'guides' available online as to how to do this.

Taken together with the expanding range of ways in which people can secretly obtain sexual gratification, this would suggest that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are enabling an explosion in secrecy and deception between couples. In turn, this might have the effect of making relationships less stable (or possibly more, given the prevalence and seeming necessity of lies).

However, two factors would warn against such a conclusion.

For one, the surveys highlighted above testify to how dishonesty and secrets were already common before bitcoin entered the mainstream. And just to provide some further evidence, a 2012 study discovered that 60% of Americans had kept at least once secret from their partners. Similarly, a survey from 2004 revealed that 83% of British women had told "big, life-changing lies" to their husbands, while in 2012, Sexual Health Australia estimated that some 70% of Australian marriages have experienced an affair.

Secondly, while cryptocurrencies may seem to offer an anonymous hiding place for assets, wives and officials are becoming increasingly hip to their use. For example, it emerged last month that a number of high-profile divorce cases have taken or are taking place in the UK, where in one instance a wife is fighting for a share of a crypto fortune worth USD 840,000.

It therefore seems that, even if bitcoin is now functioning as an enabler for dishonest partners, it's not likely to make them especially more dishonest than they were already.