A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that notes of ₹500 and ₹1,000 will become “illegal”, sex workers and escorts alike have taken to mobile wallets in accepting money, according to news report published in the Hindustan Times.
“Only Paytm users call or message me, otherwise don’t disturb … I also accept Airtel Money and MobiKwik,” said Shalu (name changed on request).
Shalu is not the usual merchant who accepts Paytm money transfer – she is an escort operating in south Delhi, who charges anything between ₹1,000 to ₹15,000 depending on the service – lowest for phone sex and the highest for an entire night.
Shalu is not new to the internet – she has been using Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram (the other two are owned by Facebook) for a few years, now. Then she started buying stuff from Flipkart and Snapdeal, and is on dating apps such as Tinder and Happn, where she finds some of her clients.
“If people can buy clothes on the internet, why can’t people buy sex online … I take all kinds of payments – I even have a card swiping machine at my house,” she said.
Only 25-30% of her customers pay by cash, as Shalu finds it much easier to handle digital money. She calls herself a “symbol of changing India”, or maybe for many, the biggest change in the country’s prostitution business (at least for the tech savvy), which has so far been dominated by cash – a large source of India’s black money.