Starting an adult website is not an easy proposition. Regardless of what sector you are trying to enter, be it pornography, adult toys, camming, or more, trying to figure out how to get into the adult entertainment industry is an extremely difficult thing to do. You have to find talent, create enticing graphics, work out finances (including establishing an adult content payment gateway), acquire start-up capital, and much, much more.
There are some aspects of the adult entertainment industry that some people don’t even think about. Take The finances for example. Financial navigation for any industry is tough, but it’s even tougher when it comes to the adult entertainment industry. Many of the standard financial tools that businesses use to get off the ground simply aren’t available to people in the adult entertainment industry. Chief among them are merchant accounts for adult entertainment, which allow you access to the financial tools that can help you process credit cards and be successful.
This is much more complicated than it may sound, as many vendors and credit card processors simply will not do business with individuals who manage adult entertainment websites. All of this can make opening a merchant account for adult entertainment impossible. There are ways that you can still open a merchant account, but you do have to find vendors who are comfortable with this industry. Zenti is one excellent example.
What is Adult Entertainment?
The definition of adult entertainment may seem obvious, but the truth is that it is much more complicated and expansive than you may first realize. It may consist of multiple components, including:
- Pornographic websites, tubes, models, online strip clubs, lingerie, adult bookstores, or live webcam sites. These websites may sell memberships or other subscription-based services.
- Online dating websites concentrated on physical interactions over the building of emotional or romantic relationships.
- Dating sites that emphasize access to certain individuals of specific physical or racial characteristics.
- Websites that allow for the purchase of adult products, such as sex toys or other novelties.
For some, the adult entertainment industry can be quite lucrative, with people building adult careers or product empires via the sale of their products. There are also challenges to this industry that is highly specific, as the adult entertainment industry has a variety of rules, regulations, and legal liabilities. As such, before starting an adult website, it is highly advisable that you speak with an attorney who can help guide you through these issues and ensure that you are keeping your efforts legal.
In order to turn a profit in the adult entertainment industry, you have to be able to access financial services, such as adult content payment gateways, otherwise known as merchant accounts. This can be more difficult than you anticipate. If your website may be considered a business that answers the question “what is adult entertainment?” you may have trouble accessing these critical services.
What is an Adult Content Payment Gateway?
A payment gateway or merchant account for adult entertainment is a financial method by which you can process credit cards or other online payment transactions. Websites obviously can’t take cash, so in order to make money, you have to create a merchant account that allows you to take credit cards, ACH payments, check, or other online payment methods. These payment processing tools are literal requirements for any adult website that is selling adult content.
These services obviously cost money: Most payment gateways will charge you a set-up fee, a flat rate, and a percentage fee on each transaction that they process for you. They may also offer you additional services at a higher charge. For most businesses, accessing these services is usually as simple as finding the best deal they can, including accessing merchant account services at an affordable rate and finding a vendor who can provide a business with the specific services they need. For adult entertainment websites, it isn’t this simple: Many merchant account service providers simply won’t do business with adult websites. Fortunately, many vendors, such as Zenti, are willing to do just that.
What are the Barriers to Getting Merchant Accounts for Adult Entertainment?
When it comes to how to get into the adult entertainment business, one of your biggest barriers will absolutely be being able to access financial services. Indeed, many credit cards and merchant account vendors simply refuse to do business with an adult entertainment website or product provider. As a result, you may find it impossible to take credit card payments.
A high-risk industry has numerous challenges that put it at a higher-than-average risk of getting a chargeback or processing credit cards that may be fraudulently processed. This does involve the adult industry, as the purchase of pornography and other adult products are common among stolen or fraudulently created credit cards. Keep in mind that a vendor can also declare a merchant to be “high-risk” for any reason, as the term is not defined in law. The reputation of a business can thus come into play in determining what is and what isn’t high-risk, and this is where the adult entertainment industry’s reputation can hurt its ability to do business.
In addition to the items listed above, there are many reasons that an adult entertainment website is considered high-risk and why you will need a high-risk merchant account to manage your merchant services. These include:
- Card-not-present transactions: Fraud is more likely in instances where the card is not physically presented to the vendor, and this is clearly the case on adult entertainment websites.
- Foreign transactions: Many pornographic purchases come from foreign countries, and in instances like this, fraud is more likely.
- Higher chargeback requests: Adult websites typically come with elevated risks of chargeback requests. This comes as a result of the use of stolen credit cards or individuals whose purchases have been found out by others, such as loved ones, and then seek a refund.
If you are a high-risk vendor, you’ll find that you have higher fees, more robust paperwork requirements, the need to provide additional information to establish a credit history, higher cash reserve requirements, and more. Your credit score and the credit history of your business will also be examined. It is also very possible that you will have to be more upfront with your previous processing history and previously used processing solutions before gaining access to these services. You may also have to provide access to bank statements, bank accounts, enhanced information about business owners, and more. In other words: None of this is cheap, and being tagged as a high-risk vendor will make it harder for you to do business.
What Does an Adult Entertainment Merchant Need to Look For in a Provider?
As a result of their unique products and services, merchant accounts for adult entertainment unquestionably will need some services that other businesses don’t require. Fortunately, most websites – even those that are high-risk – can still access these services. You will need to identify a merchant account service that can provide access to an array of services that you may not otherwise need.
Most obvious among them is the need to process high-risk credit cards at affordable rates. A high-risk payment gateway is critical to your needs, as this will allow you to process credit cards from all major vendors, including Mastercard, Visa, and more. This is often not enough. You will also need to find a vendor who can allow you to make alternative payments, including payments via PayPal, Stripe, Venmo, or more. Being able to utilize a wide array of eCommerce services is absolutely critical for an adult entertainment website, so you will need to ensure that your payment processor has a diverse array of products available. Zenti is able to help you process all of these payment methods and more. It is constantly staying in tune with the changes in the financial world in order to ensure that all of the most up-to-date and popular methods of payment are being used.
These products may include even more non-traditional forms of payment, such as the use of offshore accounts or crypto. Crypto is becoming more popular than ever, and its lack of traceability is a plus in a business that values privacy and security as much as the adult industry does.
You will also want to examine the overall costs of processing for any merchant account, as well as other services. For example, some merchant account providers will give you a zero-cost processing program. This will obviously cost you extra but may be a purchase that is well worth it for your business. Some merchant account providers also provide some form of chargeback prevention, thus providing you with financial protection if and when there is a chargeback against your business. This service can be expensive, so you will want to make sure it is worth it for your business.
What Else Should My Adult Entertainment Website Ask About?
Committing to a merchant account processor is a major commitment. As such, there are many other things you should ask about that extend well beyond the services that a merchant account provider may give you.
Chief among these services must be security. When selecting a merchant account provider, you need to ask about what sort of security protections your vendor has that can protect the vital and sensitive information that your customers entrust you with when paying for your services on a credit card. The reasons for this are two-fold. The first is obvious: Every business must protect the credit card information of their customers, as a failure to do so will ensure that no customer will ever trust you enough to do business with you again. There are also unique pressures when it comes to the adult industry: Customers who make adult purchases truly value their anonymity and will do so in this industry more than in other ones. As such, you must protect the secrecy of a customer’s transactions.
You should make sure that any vendor has robust security. You should also find out what their plans are if there is a data breach and if they have ever experienced such a breach in the past. You should also inquire about what sort of experience a potential merchant account provider has within this realm. Keep in mind that doing business with a high-risk vendor is something that is complicated and requires unique experience in managing relationships with banks, customers, credit card processors, and more. As such, you must ensure that any potential provider has actually done high-risk processing before. Even within the credit card processing world, the adult entertainment industry has unique needs and challenges. As such, it is always preferable to find a vendor who has experience in dealing with this unique financial sector and the risks it presents.
You will also need to find out if there are any limits to your relationship with a merchant account provider. Some vendors have no problem processing credit cards for many adult industries but may draw the line at specific types of pornography, dating services, or other adult entertainment. When starting a relationship with a credit card provider, it is critical that you understand the limitations of their services. You must be honest about all of the services you provide and find out if there are any circumstances under which your relationship may change. Will they increase their fees? Given your product line and services, under what circumstances will they drop your account? If they do drop your account, what sort of warning will they give you? The answers to these questions should be worked out before any such incident occurs, giving you time to determine if you want to do business with this vendor and if there are alternative arrangements that you may need to make.
If you are wondering how to get into the adult entertainment industry and find a vendor who suits your needs, contact Zenti today. At Zenti, we have years of experience in working with high-risk vendors, including those who are in the adult entertainment industry. This gives us the experience you need to make sure that we can process your high-risk business at affordable rates.