PayPal, Square and big banking’s war on the sex industry

Dec 2, 2015
Adult Business News
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For nearly a decade, PayPal, JPMorgan Chase, Visa/MasterCard, and now Square, have systematically denied or closed accounts of small businesses, artists and independent contractors whose business happens to be about sex. These payment processing authorities have also coerced websites to cease featuring sexual content under threat of service withdrawal, all while blaming ambiguous rules or pressure from one another.

Monday a federal appeals court ruled that pressuring credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard to stop doing business with speech-protected websites violates their First Amendment rights. Specifically ones that feature content from sex workers. And in June, the FDIC clarified that it’s against the rules for businesses like PayPal, Chase and Square to refuse business or close accounts based on “high risk” assessments related to human sexuality. But it may not be enough to stop what’s become an entrenched pattern of systematic discrimination by payment processors — one that disproportionately denies financial opportunities for women.

In 2012 TED speaker Cindy Gallop launched a crowdsourced porn site based on her TED Talk, “Make Love Not Porn,” which highlights unrealistic expectations about porn sex. Gallop had raised $500,000 from an undisclosed angel investor, but discovered her company “couldn’t work with PayPal, couldn’t work with Amazon, couldn’t work with Google Checkout, couldn’t work with any of the main merchant partner gateways.”

Gallop said, “So, we thought, let’s go back to Chase, we have a business banking account there, let’s apply for a commercial account. Unfortunately, that application surfaced the nature of our business within higher levels at Chase. And it resulted in a meeting with a more senior guy, who essentially said to us, not only can we not give you a commercial account, but you now need to close your business bank account and take your business away.”

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