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Interactivity 2.0: Silicon Valley sex workers embrace the Square app

Jay MacDonald

Practitioners of the world’s oldest profession are apparently using a smartphone app to accept credit card payments for their services from members of one of the world’s youngest professions.

I’m not sure Siri would approve.

According to CNN, sex workers in California’s Silicon Valley have embraced (ahem) the popular Square app, which allows them to accept credit card payments anytime, anywhere, for a modest 2.75 percent transaction fee per card swipe. Square’s free square-shaped card reader, called a dongle, instantly transforms any Android — or iPhone or iPad — into a nerd magnet.

Not that Silicon Valley sex workers need the help. San Jose law enforcement reports that prostitution jumped 35 percent from 2010 to 2011 and continues to grow, largely because the average tech salary of $96,000 tends to attract friends for hire.

One valley sex worker told CNN she charges $400 to $500 per hour and has made “close to $1 million” through paid collaboration with clients from several major tech companies. So much IPO money, so little time for a social life, apparently.

While it’s hardly the first time that sex workers have benefitted from leaps in technology, cellphones and Internet connectivity have arguably been the biggest boon to the flesh trade since the invention of the automobile.

Some sex workers advertise their services via online escort or modeling sites, while others prefer a more entrepreneurial approach. “I have a Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, two websites (and) Google Voice,” another sex worker told CNN. One can just imagine the “likes.”

Technology is even helping early adopters sidestep that age-old nuisance, the law. One sex worker who uses the Square app told CNN, “I file it under a different business name … As far as Square knows, it’s a consulting business.” No word on how that income translates to a federal income tax return however.

What other high-tech innovations might one day surface in the sex trade? GPS for the randy? Pimpterist perhaps? Where there’s a will (or a Wilma), I suppose there’s a way.

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