Online Dating Merchant Account

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High risk merchant account
Emily Wallace
CEO
online dating merchant account

Since the launch of the first online dating website, Match.com, in 1995, online dating has seen a phenomenal growth worldwide. Analysts predict that the online dating industry will reach revenues of more than 3.5 billion USD by 2025. And according to Statista, more than 44 million people in the US currently use online dating services. With numbers like these, the industry is booming; yet getting an online dating merchant account continues to be challenging for today’s entrepreneurs.

If you’re a business owner or manager in the adult dating industry, you probably already know how difficult it is to get online dating merchant account services. Perhaps you’ve already gone through the application process for credit card processing services and been denied, or perhaps you’ve even been initially approved by Paypal or Stripe, only to see your account get canceled after the first transaction. If this has happened to you, you’re not alone, because even the most successful online dating business owners are experiencing the same obstacles to getting basic payment processing solutions. Fortunately, Bankcard is here to help. Thanks to years of experience working with so-called high-risk industries like adult entertainment and online dating, Bankcard can provide you with all the payment solutions you need, including credit card, debit card, mobile app, and e-check payments, at rates you can afford.

Why is the online dating industry considered high-risk? And why are payment processors reluctant to work with high-risk industries? The answer may surprise you, because it has little or nothing to do with your success or profit margin. Instead, bankers, financial institutions, and other underwriters are looking at your chargeback rates, as well as the reputational status of your industry.

Why are online dating companies high-risk?

If your industry is considered high-risk, you’re in good company. Here’s a look at some of the nation’s most successful industries, all of which have a high-risk designation:

  • Online dating
  • Adult entertainment
  • Vitamins, nutraceuticals, and dietary supplements
  • Document preparation
  • Cannabis and CBD
  • Property management
  • Travel and tourism
  • Antiques and collectibles
  • Fantasy sports
  • Guns and ammo
  • Payday lenders
  • Pawnshops
  • Health and beauty
  • Online gambling and gaming
  • Continuity subscriptions

These businesses all have two things in common: They’re part of a booming industry, and they all have difficulties in getting approved by credit card processors. And one of the primary reasons for this is chargebacks.

How chargebacks affect merchant accounts

Simply put, “chargebacks” are credit card refunds. Chargebacks happen when customers decide that they’re dissatisfied with a product or service and ask for a refund. Chargebacks can also occur when a customer’s credit card has been fraudulently used and the charge is unauthorized by the customer. For any industry, chargebacks are an expected part of commerce. But for some business types, chargeback ratios can be unusually high due to a number of factors.

Online dating services and dating apps are especially prone to high chargebacks because of their unique subscription business model. A customer might sign up, use the dating website only a couple of times, and then decide to cancel after only a month or two. Likewise, they might actually try the site, go out on a few unsatisfactory dates with a less-than-perfect match, then decide that the site isn’t worth the money.

Sometimes, a chargeback can be designated as “friendly fraud,” even when there isn’t any malicious intent. For example, a customer might sign up for a free trial, which is very common in online dating sites, and then forget to cancel their subscription once the introductory period is over. When they see that they’ve been charged full price, they’ll immediately call the credit card company and dispute the charge. In another scenario, a customer’s parents, spouse, or significant other might accidentally discover the bill for online dating services. As a result, that customer may decide to protect their relationship by calling the credit card company and claiming that the charge is fraudulent.

Because they operate on a subscription basis, e-commerce dating sites are especially vulnerable to these types of friendly fraud. While they’re usually non-malicious, the results are the same — the online dating service and payment gateway company both lose money.  

The numbers tell the story: In 2017, businesses lost 31 billion USD due to chargebacks. Today, eight out of 10 business owners say that friendly fraud chargebacks are increasing each year, and experts predict that by 2023, 1 in 10 chargebacks will involve a friendly fraud transaction. For online dating business, the good news is that Bankcard can provide your company with payment processing solutions that are strategized to mitigate chargebacks and friendly fraud.

Tips for chargeback prevention in online dating

Here’s a look at some of the things you can do to be proactive in chargeback mitigation and friendly fraud prevention:

Provide full, detailed descriptions of your online dating services

Explain exactly how your subscriptions work, and what’s included each month.

Provide accurate, up-to-date pricing information

Customers will cancel a subscription if they feel that their needs aren’t being met, so it’s a good idea to post your prices clearly and let subscribers know exactly what they’ll get for their money. In addition, it always helps to throw in a few extras, like a weekly newsletter, because this gives customers the impression that they’re getting more for their money.

Offer a generous, clear-cut cancellation policy

In any subscription business, cancellations are going to be inevitable, so make them as easy as possible. Customers will remember this and will be more likely to come back to you if they decide to try a dating service again.

Provide stellar customer service

In any type of business, it’s essential to be there for your customers, so make sure someone is always available to answer questions about your subscription services. Also, be sure to respond to phone calls and emails promptly. Otherwise, customers may get frustrated and cancel their subscriptions.

Use a discreet billing name

In the online dating industry, chargebacks can occur when bills and invoices are inadvertently seen by the wrong people. To protect customer privacy, it’s a good idea to use a discreet name on your bills and invoices that doesn’t tie you into the dating industry.

Post your name and contact information where it can be seen

Customers get frustrated when they have trouble contacting a business. Always make sure your name, phone number, and email address are placed where they can be clearly seen on every page of your website, as well as every billing and invoicing transaction.

Monitor your site’s activity

The online dating industry is vulnerable to all types of scammers. To protect yourself, be sure to monitor user activity on a daily basis. Check for red flags such as:

  • Changes or inconsistencies in an account
  • An unusually high number of messages from a user
  • A high ratio of connections from a user
  • Photos of subscribers who look like minors

By identifying and rooting out suspicious customers, you can protect your business as well as your company’s reputation.

And speaking of safety issues, when it comes to merchant account approval, online dating businesses can also be hampered by reputational risks and security concerns.

Reputational risks and transaction laundering

Adult entertainment and online dating industries have several things in common, and these are all factors in their high-risk status. As with adult entertainment, online dating is regulated with a number of protocols and age restrictions that limit access to minors. Because of these restrictions, industry breaches can lead to hefty fines and lawsuits, making underwriters reluctant to work with these accounts.

In addition, while most online dating services are reputable and legitimate, bad actors can use online dating sites as a front for a variety of illegal activities, including gentleman’s clubs. In these cases, the site is misrepresented and used to skirt state and federal laws.   

In another scam that’s currently popular, fraudsters are posing as dating site participants and tricking customers into sending them money and expensive gifts such as electronics. These “romance” transaction frauds have become so prevalent, the FBI has had to issue warnings to consumers about interacting with cybercriminals posing as potential dates.

Banks and financial institutions tend to shy away from any type of industry that’s particularly vulnerable to fraud and scams. And without this essential underwriting, payment processing companies can’t accept these high-risk merchant accounts.

Why underwriting impacts merchant account approval

“Underwriting” simply means financial backing. The term is most commonly used in the loan approval process, where banks and financial institutions provide the financial backing for a personal or business loan. In these instances, it’s crucial for the loan applicant to have a top-notch credit rating as well as reliable sources of income. When it comes to merchant accounts, payment processing companies rely upon banks and financial institutions for underwriting. If for any reason a merchant is in a high-risk industry, that merchant account will typically be denied.

Even in cases where payment processing is approved, merchant account providers will typically tack on higher fees and may also impose restrictions and limitations on certain industries.  And this is where Bankcard can help your online dating service. With a Bankcard account, you’ll be able to take every major credit card, plus debit card, e-check, and mobile app payments, all at reasonable processing fees that your business can afford.   

Advantages to an online dating merchant account

If you’re still on the fence about getting an online dating merchant account, here are some benefits to consider:

Multiple credit card and payment options

According to consumer studies, 90 percent of customers prefer having a wide choice of payment options, and this can actually influence where they decide to take their business. A merchant service provider can give you access to a variety of online payment solutions, including all major credit cards and e-checks.

Tracking tools to streamline your operations

As a full-service merchant provider, Bankcard can provide you with essential tracking tools that will monitor every transaction, from its point of sale to its completion. This way, you won’t have to spend hours searching for missing or delinquent payments.

Automated invoicing and billing

With Bankcard, you’ll be able to enjoy the convenience of automated invoicing and billing, with a customized schedule that works for you and your customers.

Secure payment gateway services

Bankcard provides safe, secure payment gateway services that protect every transaction with up-to-date encryption and encoding.

As a leading high-risk merchant account provider, Bankcard specializes in providing businesses in high-risk industries with a full roster of payment solutions. With Bankcard, you’ll be able to take VISA, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express credit and debit card payments. In addition, your customers will be able to use safe, convenient mobile app and e-check payment options, so you’ll never have to chase bounced checks again.

Bankcard also offers a wide range of payment management tools, including automated billing and invoicing at your preferred schedule, plus fast and easy tracking from point of sale to the end of the transaction, so you’ll never lose sight of your payments. And Bankcard’s fees are affordable, so you won’t have to worry about getting overcharged because you’re in a high-risk industry.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, contact Bankcard and learn how we can help you streamline your operations, boost ROI, generate revenues, and increase customer satisfaction.

Integrations

Bankcard Connect plays nice with others

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.

merchant account integrations c

BigCommerce
Formsite
Infusionsoft
Keap
Magento
Microsoft Dynamics
Network Solutions
SalesForce
Shopify
Volusion
Web.com
Weebly
WIX
WooCommerce
WordPress
Yola

Cart66
Checkfront
EASYCART
eShop
Event Espresso
events manager
GetShopped.org
GRAVITY
Jigoshop
Paid Memberships Pro
Shopp
SHOPPERPRESS
templatic
TheCartPress
WishList MEMBER
WooCommerce
WORDPRESS eSTORE
WP GATEWAYS
WpInvoice
wpmudev

Drupal Commerce
Ubercart

HikaShop
Miwisoft
VirtueMart

911 Software, Inc.
ACR Systems
Activant
Aldelo Systems, Inc.
Applied Micro Technology
Advanced Retail Management Solutions (ARMs)
Auto star
Cantaloupe Systems
Data Business Systems
Datacap Systems, Inc.
DataTech Corp
DataVantage
Edgil Associates
Elavon*
Epicor (CRS, NSB)
Freedom Pay
Gateway Ticketing Systems
Idalica Corp
IJN Systems
IT Retail
KWI
Main Street Softworks
MBS Textbook Exchange
Medasyst, Inc.
Microsoft
/n Software, Inc.
PC America
POSiFlex
RATEX Business Solutions
Retail Data Systems
RTL Payment Systems
ScanSource, Inc.
Sicom Systems, Inc.
Slim CD
Tempus Technologies
Tender Retail Systems
The Software Mills
Tomax Corporation
Total Computing Solutions
TouchNet Information Systems
XProtean, Inc. (C-Payment Software)
XPient Solutions
Vista Entertainment Systems

911 Software, Inc.
Data Business Systems
Dinerware
Datacap Systems, Inc.
Main Street Softworks
Menusoft Systems Corp.
Micros Systems
Midnite Express, Inc.
/n Software Inc.
NCR
onePOS.com
Ordyx
Radiant Systems
Revel Systems
Sicom Systems, Inc.
Squirrel Systems
Tempus Technologies
XPient Solutions
XProtean, Inc. (C-Payment Software)
Elavon (previously Southern DataComm and Global Card Services)

Dresser Wayne
Excentus
Fuel Links
Fiscal Systems, Inc.
Gilbarco
LOC Software
Main Street Softworks
Petro RX
PetroVend
Radiant Systems
Retalix
VeriFone Ruby System

Datacap Systems
JPMA
LOC Software
Logivision
MTX/EPS
RORC
StoreNext
Torex

911 Software, Inc.
Hotel Software Systems
Slim CD
Elavon
Tempus Technologies

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.

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We partnered with Bankcard in 2017 and they've been there for us every time. Everything is super fast and I love how well they communicate with our staff. They really know their stuff, and we work in a very complex industry! My account executive knows our business inside and out.

Alexandria, CMO
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FAQs: Table of Contents

Accepted Industries and Countries​

The industries we accept for high risk merchant accounts include, but are not limited to the below industries.

  • Adult merchant account
  • Bad credit
  • CBD
  • Credit Repair
  • MLM
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Payday loans
  • Private airlines
  • Subscriptions
  • Travel
  • Vape & eCig
  • Illegal business activity
  • Businesses without the proper license
  • Illegal drugs (CBD with less than 0.30% THC is acceptable)

Bankcard can provide merchant accounts to customers in the below countries. Kindly note that many payment solutions are regulated based on location.

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Bear Island 
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Channel Island
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Faroe Islands
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungry
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Vatican City

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.

Applying for a merchant account

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. 

Completing the Application

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. 

Documents

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. 

Equipment and Gateways

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. 

Existing Merchant Accounts

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. 

ACH payments

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. 

Pricing and Approval

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.