Dating apps hit sex industry hard

Prostitutes are facing a shortage of clients, as the rapid rise of hook-up smartphone apps such as Tinder erode the market for paid sex.

New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective national co-ordinator Catherine Healy said the most common complaint both here and globally was a lack of work.

In part, that was the result of the rise of online dating websites where people could find casual sex for free, she said.

"In the last 15 years, it feels like maybe the number of commercial sex encounters are in competition with those sites."

The likes of and have tens of thousands of active members.

Location-based apps such as Tinder and Grindr have also experienced enormous growth in recent years.

Tinder does not reveal user numbers, but said, globally, people swiped through 1.2 billion profiles every day.

Casual sex worker Eva* said it was so quiet in Wellington that she took a trip to Sydney last week to try to drum up new business.

While over there, she ran into two Kiwi acquaintances doing the same thing.

She typically fitted three or four clients a week around work and family commitments, but would ideally see one every day.

"I make enough money in the other job to live," she said. "This is for if I want to go on holiday, buy some nice things, or even go out for dinner."

Eva said the rise of online speed dating had been harder on male prostitutes, as the hook-up culture in the gay community was more socially acceptable.

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Auckland freelancer Jay*, whose clients are men, said he was getting enough work, but had heard of others who were struggling.

Not everyone using Grindr had a positive experience, with many still preferring to pay, he said.

"They think hiring a sex worker is a more straightforward and easy process, which gets them what they want."

Both Jay and Eva said the internet had some big advantages, such as being able to advertise cheaply and effectively.

"The interface between yourself and your client can change quite rapidly," Jay said. "You need to be up to speed with ways to attract clients using the internet."

He said he was looking into Madam, a New Zealand-developed online service that uses location technology to connect clients with prostitutes in the same area.

Customers are able to search by the likes of body type or hair colour, and workers can get details on the best times and locations to win custom.

The service said safety was of "a paramount concern", and workers were also able to lodge warnings about certain users. Fairfax NZ

The Dominion Post