Sex Worker Laments Over Why Mainstream Payment Processors Shun Porn

Apr 4, 2014 9:15 AM PST

LOS ANGELES — Why do PayPal and other mainstream payment processors discriminate against porn-related ventures? Sex writer and performer Kitty Stryker lamented on the disturbing circumstance in her recent blog.

Stryker said her crowdfunding attempt at Patreon got shot down by PayPal simply because of her sexually related content. And the practice is not uncommon when it comes to anything adult.

“As the organizer of an event with burlesque, I had my account frozen for a week, losing vital time to purchase supplies, and I had to submit via email all sorts of information to ‘prove’ I was legit (meaning, of course, not a sex worker),” Stryker wrote.

Patreon’s apologetic email to Stryker said, “[A]s you can imagine, this would be detrimental to creators — hundreds of thousands of dollars were to be ‘frozen’ unless we flagged all adult content pages, made them private, and removed PayPal functionality from their individual pages… I’m so sorry that we had to do this without warning you first, but it was SUCH an emergency! We simply had to take action to avoid a situation where creators would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of legitimate pledges.”

Stryker also talked about other adult entertainers who've had similar problems with PayPal, WePay and Fundly, resulting in frozen accounts and returned donations.

And sometimes even non-sex efforts also get bounced simply because the client is affiliated with adult.

Stryker noted that alternative/queer porn star Andre Shakti was nailed by payment processor WePay, shutting down her Fundly efforts account causing the Sex Workers Outreach Project to ask Fundly to stop using WePay and be true to its “crowdfunding for all” tagline.

Porn performer Maggie Mayhem, was also denied PayPal funds to raise money for Haiti relief work, and Michelle Austin had accounts at PayPal and WePay shuttered because they were linked to adult.

The author said that PayPal and WePay are not required to give answers as to why they freeze or shut down accounts. “But often all that’s required is the history (or even the suspicion) of sex work."

Porn discrimination by payment processors stems from the old high risk chargeback bugaboo, Stryker believes, although she couldn’t find actual stats to back up the "risky" investments, but noted that other risky non-porn entities like travel and computer services are not blacklisted like porn.

The writer cautioned that people who may be thinking about getting into a potentially lucrative porn venture to help make ends meet could easily be shut out by services like PayPal and WePay.

“With PayPal and WePay controlling most of the online payment market, having a scarlet letter banning sex workers past or present from using them can mean that any other sort of small business idea is made impossible for us. I may want to stop doing sex work and write instead, but if I can’t process online payments because of having an adult history, and companies won’t hire me because they can Google my sex work history, I’m stuck in the business whether I like it or not,” Stryker said.

She also noted that there's often confusion between porn and “erotic” ventures. Some erotica sites told PayPal “morally objectionable” content wasn’t allowed … including books with BDSM content. Stryker said Vicki Gallas, a former escort’s memoirs were banned because they included sex work, and the Seattle Erotic Art Festival had their account frozen even though they only used the service to process fine art submission fees.

Stryker concluded that there may be some help coming however with the acceptance of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that’s now being accepted by Verotel — but for now, porn is still taboo.


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