If you own or manage an adult website, then there’s a good chance you might have already applied for payment processing services and been denied. It may seem unbelievable in today’s global economy, but there are still dozens of industries that have a next-to-impossible chance of getting approved for payment processing services. These merchant services are vital for any business, because they enable business owners to offer their customers a variety of payment solutions, including credit card, e-check, and mobile app payment methods.
Adult entertainment industry entrepreneurs have an especially difficult time getting merchant accounts for adult websites due to a variety of reasons. Fortunately, a number of high-risk payment processors do handle merchant accounts for adult websites, but some of them charge inordinately high fees, especially for credit card processing. Likewise, some merchant account processors only offer limited services to adult websites, so it’s almost not worth paying the higher fees involved.
Bankcard specializes in providing a full range of processing services for high-risk accounts, including merchant accounts for adult s. Bankcard enables high-risk merchants to provide credit card, debit card, e-check, and mobile app payment options for their customers. In addition, Bankcard automated billing and invoicing, plus convenient payment tracking tools for adult entertainment merchants and other high-risk businesses.
Why can’t adult websites get payment processing services? There’s a variety of reasons, all of them having to do with financing, backing, and perceived financial risk for high-risk industries.
You might wonder, where’s the risk? You’d be justified in wondering, because adult website revenues have grown an average of 12.7 percent each year since 2016. In 2021, the estimated market revenue for adult websites totals $803.6 million. Just one popular site, PornHub, claimed approximately 81 million visits per day in 2017, and counted 25 billion searches the previous year. Likewise, another study shows that 40 million adults regularly visit adult websites. Yet with numbers and revenues like these, gateway payment processing companies are still reluctant to take adult website merchant accounts.
From a business perspective, adult merchant accounts can include the following categories:
If you own or manage a business in any of these categories, you probably already realize that you’re in a so-called “high-risk” industry for payment processing services. You may have even applied for Paypal, Stripe, or Square payment services, and been accepted — only to have your account deleted after the first credit card transaction. If you’ve been denied approval from any of these payment gateway processors, be aware that it’s not because they think your business is unsuccessful — it’s just because of the industry you’re in. And ultimately, it’s all due to underwriting.
Payment processing companies receive financial backing and protection from a variety of financial institutions. This way, they’re protected from the risks of money loss and fraud. Credit card companies, banks, and other institutions work as banking partners with these payment gateway companies, and when things go well, everyone profits in the end.
However, banks, credit cards, and financial institutions don’t like to take risks. That’s why they’ll refuse loans and funding to various businesses, including high-risk online businesses and adult entertainment merchants. And that’s also why they’ll refuse to provide high-risk merchant services. Without underwriting from these financial organizations, payment processing companies can’t afford to offer their services to high-risk accounts.
With this in mind, here’s a look at some of the reasons why adult website merchant accounts are considered to be high-risk.
Every company has to put up with a certain number of chargebacks — it’s part of being in business. For most industries, a typical chargeback ratio hovers at around one percent.
For some industries, however, chargeback ratios are significantly higher. For example, the tourist industry is particularly prone to high chargeback rates because people are often compelled to cancel their vacation plans and companies are required to give refunds. This has been especially true during the pandemic, when cancellations wreaked havoc on tourism.
Among payment processing companies, the adult entertainment industry has a reputation for having significantly higher-than-normal chargeback rates, and this is a primary reason why payment processors won’t work with these businesses. This higher chargeback rate is due to a number of factors, including the following:
“Friendly fraud” occurs when someone is complicit with, or has knowledge of, a transaction on their credit card — yet to benefit themselves, they still report it as an unauthorized charge. The customer actually makes or accepts the charge initially, then misrepresents it as unauthorized so the bank has no choice but to refund them. In a typical friendly fraud scenario, the customer will file a chargeback with the credit card company, rather than first trying to get a refund from the merchant.
Friendly fraud isn’t always malicious; sometimes the customer makes an honest mistake by not following the correct protocols. Whatever the reason, friendly fraud numbers are increasing rapidly each year. Statistics indicate that, by 2023, six in every ten chargebacks will be friendly fraud cases. For now, eight out of ten merchants say that they’ve seen a significant increase in friendly fraud chargebacks. And among merchants that try to contest them, at least 31 percent say that they’ve had difficulties reversing fraudulent refunds.
Adult merchant accounts are especially vulnerable to friendly fraud chargebacks. One reason has to do with discovery — specifically, when a customer’s adult website usage is discovered by a parent, spouse, friend, or employer, and the customer decides to deny it and claim the charge as fraudulent.
As we’ll discuss below, Bankcard has a variety of tools that can help you decrease your chargeback rate, even in cases of friendly fraud, so your profits and revenues won’t be impacted.
Subscription cancelations are another reason for high chargebacks. Many adult entertainment websites offer various types of subscription services. These typically offer free trials, which customers forget to cancel when the trial is over. When the first charge comes in, these customers will request a chargeback if they don’t want to pay for the subscription.
High costs and fraudulent sites
Customer chargebacks can also be motivated by the overall high cost of adult entertainment services. In many cases, a customer might get angry about the cost of services and simply refuse to pay, or dispute the charge to try to get a discount. Reputable adult entertainment companies provide full disclosure for their services; but as with every industry, there are always a few bad apples that try to get away with charging more than the customer bargained for. These hidden fees and costs by fraudulent merchants are another reason for high chargebacks in the industry.
The adult entertainment industry is also to other high-risk factors, such as regulatory and security issues.
Certain industries, such as adult entertainment and cannabis, are regulated more heavily than others. This is especially true of industries where a minimum legal age is imposed and IDs have to be shown before purchases can be made. Many merchant account processors simply don’t want to deal with the work involved with following regulatory requirements to meet compliance.
Have you ever noticed the high incidence of cybercrime and hacking associated with adult websites? Hackers intentionally target adult websites, making it even riskier for automated payments to process safely. Because of this, payment gateway providers have to be especially vigilant with adult website merchant accounts, and may even have to add extra layers of security to accommodate these businesses.
“Card-not-present” refers to transactions that use debit or credit card information without using the physical card itself. These typically occur when either the merchant or customer manually processes the credit card information remotely. A card-not-present transaction eliminates the need for the card to be swiped through a card reader — and while this makes the transaction more convenient, it also makes it riskier. As e-commerce providers, adult websites have a much higher-than-normal rate of card-not-present transactions, which adds another risk factor to the industry.
Bankcard can help you mitigate the risks of CNP transactions, with tools to verify and match billing addresses and transaction locations.
Throughout the US, there’s still an inherent stigma associated with adult entertainment products, such as sex toys, adult websites, and other merchandise and services. In this respect, adult entertainment providers fall into the same category as cannabis and e-cigarette vendors. Their products are considered to be “underground,” and not ready for prime-time retailers.
This social stigma carries over into the business arena as well. Some banks and gateway payment providers are reluctant to accept adult website merchant accounts because they fear that it will harm their reputations to be associated with controversial industries, no matter how legal they are.
A payment gateway processor will enable you to provide a variety of payment options for your customers, including:
Statistics show that customers prefer credit cards over any other method of payment, and secure online payment processing is especially crucial for adult website merchant accounts. By offering convenient payment options, you’ll retain customer loyalty and increase customer satisfaction. Plus, a merchant account enables you to take foreign currencies, so you’ll be able to expand internationally.
Bankcard offers high-risk businesses a full roster of payment processing methods, and integrates with 99.99% of payment gateways around the world. In addition, Bankcard provides high-risk credit card processing tools that enable businesses to accept and process all types of online transactions quickly and securely.
A payment processing company will provide real-time tracking for your payments, from the point of sale until the charges have been fully processed.
Business management tools
By using a payment processing company, you’ll have access to online management tools that will help with invoicing and billing, while eliminating time-consuming paperwork and bookkeeping.
Secure payment processing
If you’re tired of chasing bouncing checks, you’ll be glad to know that a merchant account offers safe, secure e-check processing options.
How to get payment processing for your adult website
Getting payment processing approval for a high-risk merchant account can be a difficult process. These tips can help, but it’s best to get expert guidance from a high-risk merchant account specialist.
Maintain a top-notch credit rating
It bears repeating — there’s nothing as valuable to a business as a good credit rating. Make sure your bills are all paid on time, and pay off your debts as quickly as possible.
Stash some cash
Payment processors appreciate a healthy bank account. The more cash you have, the more successful your business will appear to be.
Save your documents
Payment processors may ask for bank statements going back at least six months, plus tax returns covering several years. Be prepared to provide as many documents as you can, because you’ll need to show how successful your business has been.
Try to prevent chargebacks
Yes, it’s easier said than done, but you can actually develop chargeback prevention strategies. For example, with enough documentation, plus proof that a product or service was paid for through your website, you might be able to dispute some of your chargebacks successfully. Be sure to keep all email correspondence with your customers, as well as signed delivery slips and other documents relative to the sale.
Bankcard has a wide variety of solutions to help decrease damaging chargebacks in merchant accounts for adult websites. These tools include an Address Verification Service (which matches billing addresses for every transaction), security code monitoring for credit cards, and 3-D Secure Protocol, a tool that validates identity across various devices.
Increase privacy protections
If your business has a name that associates it with the adult entertainment industry, it’s a good idea to change this name to a more discreet one on all your invoices and billing documents. This will help your customers keep their transactions private from the public eye — and in turn, will help prevent chargebacks.
As the name implies, high-risk merchant account companies specialize in facilitating payment processing approval for high-risk merchants. Before choosing one, however, be aware that some high-risk companies will only work with specific businesses within the adult entertainment industry. For example, some high-risk credit card processors might not work with merchant accounts for adult s.
Also, look for fair pricing policies. Some high-risk merchant processing firms may charge varying fees rates for different credit cards, but these fees should be uniform across the board. Make sure to get complete disclosure on all fees and rates.
And finally, make sure that the payment processor is experienced in working with merchant accounts for adult websites, and doesn’t impose payment limitations. A good processor will help you provide your customers with a full roster of credit card, e-check, and mobile app payment options.
If you’re ready to take your adult entertainment business to the next level by offering convenient credit card and online payments to your customers, Bankcard can help. As one of the internet’s earliest adult entertainment payment processors, our experience gives us the expertise to handle every type of adult merchant account. Our expertise covers every aspect of the adult content industry, including e-commerce sites for sex toys and novelties, adult webcams, dating sites, gentleman’s clubs, strip clubs, and adult bookstores. Because of our commitment to providing adult credit card processing and helping merchant accounts for adult websites, Bankcard is the No. 1 merchant processor for the adult entertainment industry.
If you’re ready to boost revenues and increase customer satisfaction, contact Bankcard to learn how we can help you take your business to a whole new level of success.
Getting started takes one minute
Bankcard Connect integrates seamlessly with ISV software to simplify payment processing for merchants: any payment type, on any device, anywhere.
Bankcard integrates with over 99% of the tools you are already using, including popular accounting software and e-commerce apps, regardless of your industry. Our payment services were designed to be adaptable to provide seamless integrations for our customers.
Paid Memberships Pro
911 Software, Inc.
Aldelo Systems, Inc.
Applied Micro Technology
Advanced Retail Management Solutions (ARMs)
Data Business Systems
Datacap Systems, Inc.
Epicor (CRS, NSB)
Gateway Ticketing Systems
Main Street Softworks
MBS Textbook Exchange
/n Software, Inc.
RATEX Business Solutions
Retail Data Systems
RTL Payment Systems
Sicom Systems, Inc.
Tender Retail Systems
The Software Mills
Total Computing Solutions
TouchNet Information Systems
XProtean, Inc. (C-Payment Software)
Vista Entertainment Systems
911 Software, Inc.
Data Business Systems
Datacap Systems, Inc.
Main Street Softworks
Menusoft Systems Corp.
Midnite Express, Inc.
/n Software Inc.
Sicom Systems, Inc.
XProtean, Inc. (C-Payment Software)
Elavon (previously Southern DataComm and Global Card Services)
Fiscal Systems, Inc.
Main Street Softworks
VeriFone Ruby System
911 Software, Inc.
Hotel Software Systems
Government organizations face a growing need for secure payment processing services while managing highly specific needs for content management and security.
We can work with popular technology products government agencies prefer, like Ciber and Cubic, to create an integrated solution that meets all your needs for processing payments, managing information, and more.
Instant everything. Amazing technology.
Friendly, US-based support from our headquarters in Michigan.
Regardless of your industry, we can help you get approved for a high-risk merchant account.
The industries we accept for high risk merchant accounts include, but are not limited to the below industries.
Bankcard can provide merchant accounts to customers in the below countries. Kindly note that many payment solutions are regulated based on location.
Being a start-up business will not hinder a business from getting approved for a merchant account. While having a processing history helps your likelihood of getting approved, the lack of processing will not necessarily stop you from getting an approval. Consult an experienced Account Executive today to learn more.
There are never guarantees when it comes to the approval of a merchant account. However, we do work with merchants that have low credit scores. Reach out to an Account Executive today for a consultation.
If you’re a United States citizen applying for a merchant account for a United States registered business, a social security number is required.
A merchant account can be labeled high risk for many reasons. You can be labeled as such due to high average tickets, being in an industry that historically has high chargebacks, or an industry that tier one banks do not support.
To apply for a high-risk merchant account, you need to complete our pre-qualification form and upload all required documentation. Once the pre-qualification is complete your Account Executive will locate the best placement for your account, and send you a final agreement. Once that final agreement is signed, underwriting will complete a full package review for approval.
There is no fee to apply for a merchant services account with Bankcard. However, If you get approved with us there may be a small setup fee for your gateway account.
Square, Stripe, and Paypal are all payment facilitators and do not accept high-risk merchant accounts. Signing up with Bankcard gives you a direct merchant relationship with a sponsor bank. The approval process requires more documentation, but you’re at a significantly lower risk of getting terminated.
This depends upon how quickly you, the merchant, completes our pre-qualification form. Once we have all of your documentation, we get to work. We can typically locate placement for your merchant services account in 48 hours.
Once you get an approval, you’ll be able to accept credit card payments within 24 business hours.
Depending upon the program, you will receive your funds anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after the batch is settled.
The industry type is a major determining factor when it comes to risk levels of merchant services. But, other factors such as credit, card-present vs not present, and chargeback ratios can also push an account into the high-risk category as well.
Your legal business name should match the business name on the state business registration or licensure. However, if you are a sole proprietor, your name would be the legal business name.
If you’re not sure how much processing you’ll do, we recommend applying for $5,000 to $10,000 monthly. You don’t need to hit that number each month, but if you’re close to going over, reach out to your Account Executive for assistance.
Your average transaction amount should be the average of all transactions you would accept with your merchant account. Your maximum transaction should be the anticipated maximum amount accepted in one transaction. If you attempt to process a transaction that is higher than the maximum amount provided, additional proof of purchase may be requested.
You may provide personal bank statements in lieu of bank statements if your business bank account is new or does not have any activity.
If you’re applying for a merchant account for ecommerce processing you will need a fully functional website with products or services listed with associated pricing.
Yes, a credit check is required in order to obtain a high-risk merchant account. Once a final agreement is signed, a hard credit pull is done. Credit scores are taken into consideration when underwriting reviews a full application for merchant services.
If you’re a United States citizen applying for a merchant account for a business registered in the United States, your social security number will be required to apply.
The first step to applying for a high-risk merchant account is completing the pre-qualification form. Three months bank statements, three months processing statements (if applicable), a voided check or bank letter, and driver’s license or passport will be required to apply.
If your business does not utilize checks, we can accept a bank letter that includes your full account and routing number as well as the business or account holder’s name. The letter should be on bank letterhead, be dated within the last 30 days, and be signed by a bank representative.
If you don’t have three months of business bank statements, don’t fret. We can accept three months’ personal bank statements from a business owner, or director.
Bank statements show a lot about a prospective merchant, namely, processing activity, and the average monthly ending balance. If a merchant is currently processing, we want to know why they’re switching, if we know a merchant’s pain points we can find better solutions for their needs. The average monthly ending balance is also relevant to show financial stability within the business as well as validating the monthly volume requested.
If a merchant is currently processing credit card payments and successfully managing a merchant account this can increase the likelihood of getting approved. Some payment facilitators such as Paypal, Stripe, and Square might not supply monthly processing statements. Underwriting may request login credentials so they can get an overview of the processing activities.
For in-person retail card acceptance, Bankcard can provide equipment that will arrive programmed and ready to accept payments. Discuss your equipment options with your experienced Account Executive.
Here at Bankcard, we do offer our own gateway solution that’s exclusive to merchants that sign up with us. Of course, if there’s a gateway you prefer we are willing to work with you as long as integration is possible. Please reach out to your dedicated Account Executive for details.
Bankcard integrates with NMI, Authorize.net, and more. For specific gateway integration questions reach out to an experienced Account Executive.
Your merchant account will be set up to accept Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and ATM cards.
Load balancing is the strategy of spreading transactions over more than one MID. It’s not necessary for all high-risk accounts, but can be considered as a way to manage chargeback ratios with high-risk merchants.
Not to worry, this number can be increased as needed. However, the bank underwriting your merchant account needs to be aware of the expected monthly volume to ensure they have capacity available for all merchants processing with that bank.
If you go over by a small amount you might be asked for a copy of the invoice or receipt. However, if you go over the monthly limit by a large amount there is a chance your excess funds might be held temporarily.
When it comes to high-risk accounts, banks ideally want chargeback ratios below the 3% threshold. If you can provide long term processing history the bank may take this into consideration. Lower chargeback ratios are ideal. Consult your knowledgeable Account Executive for assistance in lowering your chargeback ratio.
Rolling reserves are a way to financially protect the processing bank from potential losses from chargebacks or refunds. Not all high-risk merchant accounts require a rolling reserve. The risk department will determine if and when a rolling reserve is required.
Interchange fees refer to the issuing credit card brand fees such as Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American express. These fees vary depending on the card type, American Express tends to be the most expensive card to process. Interchange rates can range from 1% to 2.5%.
Of course! Once you’ve established a healthy processing history, you may reach out to your Account Executive for a rate review. We recommend only doing this if your processing history shows low chargeback ratios and relatively low refund activity.
You may request an increase in your monthly volume at any time. However, it’s recommended to wait until your merchant account reflects healthy processing history as well as financial stability from your bank statements.
Reach out to our support team, or your dedicated Account Executive for any account-related updates you may need.
Depending on the program your merchant account fees are either taken at the beginning of each month. Some programs require daily discounts. Program details will be notated on your final agreement and if you have further questions you can always consult your Account Executive.
Bankcard can assist with ACH or eCheck services. An application and approval process still applies to this service, or it can be an added service with your processing account. Reach out to your Account Executive for details.
The approval process requires less documentation than applying for a merchant services account. And if you’re already processing with Bankcard an approval can be expedited.
Every account is different, however, most programs allow next-day settlements for ACH transactions.
ACH payment acceptance can be integrated into most website platforms. Reach out to a dedicated Account Executive for more information.
High-risk merchant accounts are priced higher than low-risk accounts because fewer banks are willing to work with businesses labeled “high risk”. Banks also need additional financial protections from loss on these accounts.
Bankcard will always provide fair pricing based on the risk level of every merchant. And if a current processing statement is provided we’ll do everything in our power to beat the merchant’s current rates.
While we love working with merchants that are considered high risk. There are limitations put in place by bank and card brand rules. If a merchant does not abide by the specific program rules described by the Account Executive assisting them we cannot ensure an approval.
Think of merchant accounts as a loan or a line of credit. And processing banks take on the risk of transactions getting charged back. Banks can end up liable for the actions of merchants, a problematic merchant can damage the reputation of the bank funding and processing the transactions.