Category Archives: adult merchant accounts

Articles referencing merchant account services for merchants in the adult industry from Adult Merchant Services.

best adult payment processor

Best Adult Payment Processor

Why do you need the best adult payment processor?
Experienced merchants in the online adult industry understand the importance of partnering with the best adult payment processors to build their business, while newbies to the industry might search out only the lowest rates and fee schedules, points that do not guarantee that a company is the best adult payment processor to work with. Understanding the common problems and issues that plague the adult credit card processing industry will help merchants ask the right questions so they can find the best adult merchant account provider to partner long-term with and grow their business to the fullest potential.

Many experienced adult webmasters and business operators will tell startups looking for adult payment processing services that finding a consistent and secure payment processor is more important than the payment services provider that promises the lowest rates. Many adult payment processors operating in Europe or other locations outside the USA will advertise processing fees under 5% for their services, and while those costs might be very appealing to newbies, the questions and unknowns surrounding the payment services might outweigh the any possible benefits.

As is the case with most of the high risk credit card processing companies, their payment services are only as good as their banks and banking relations that power their credit card processing services. Working with a payment processor that might not have a solid relationship with their acquiring bank could possibly create trouble for merchants with delayed payouts, holding of funds or account termination, very costly and potentially devastating financial occurrences that are all so common.

The choice of a payment services provider for an adult business is an important decision for the business to make, having consistent funding while providing customers with quick and easy payouts can help grow an adult business. Doing some research on the payment processor and asking the right questions of the customer service representatives can help a merchant narrow down their choices of find the best adult payment processor.

What makes a good adult payment processor?

Working with a payment processor that operates as a complete merchant services provider can make it much easier for a business to navigate the payments systems and networks that power the card acceptance process.  An informative payment processor can offer merchants a variety of options and help find the best solution for their businesses needs and budget, eliminating the hassle of making businesses educate themselves on available products and search for the solutions that offer it.

There are a few ways that payment processors can separate themselves from the other companies, one of the most common methods is by providing discount or low priced merchant services to their clients. Some merchant services providers have opted to focus on providing their services at discounted prices as their means of attracting customers and build a customer base, and while this method is can be beneficial to a merchant’s bottom, it can also mean for merchants that other services or benefits could become substandard or non-existent, possibly even making it harder for the merchant to operate their business in the long run.

The features and functionality of an adult merchant account can be the difference for some merchants when comparing the offers from various payment processing companies.  Some merchant accounts might be very limited to the types of transactions they can accept or the amount of sales they will allow per month, this can make finding an adult payment processor that has a wide range of acceptance methods and flexible terms an important feature for adult merchants that have special needs and requirements for their payment processing services.

Working with a payment processor that makes an effort to provide great customer service and support is many times what separates a merchant services provider from another, even if their fees are not the lowest when compared to other adult payment processors. Partnering with a merchant services company that can help navigate a merchant and make the payment side of their business easier can truly distinguish one company verses the others – imagine trying to figure out technical issues on a Friday afternoon and having to find your way through an automated tech support line alone.

Other payment processors have focused on their technical offerings by providing merchants with a quality payment gateway that can help make transactions flow faster and assist merchants by providing functionality within the gateway to help the business run smooth and save merchants time through simple management and reporting capabilities.  A quality gateway will usually work with the major shopping carts while offering a fast and simple integration process through an API that can plug directly into the merchants shopping cart. Some lower priced shopping cart programs might be included with the merchant account, but the functionality of many of these payment gateways might not be as advanced as others, making such functions as re-billing and transaction management more difficult for merchants.

Merchant accounts and payment processors comes in all different shapes and sizes making the hunt for the best adult payment processor somewhat of a challenge for merchants looking for a solution that fits their special needs or business requirements.

Where to find the best adult payment processors?

Finding merchant service providers for adult businesses can be challenging at times since most payment processors and financial institutions will not work with businesses in the industry due to their classification as high risk.  This has forced many merchants with no option but to find a solution for their adult business on their own, with most companies turning to the internet to find an adult payment processor.

One of the easiest and fastest ways to find an adult payment processing company is by doing a search engine query for suggestions of payment processors.   A quick search of either “adult merchant account” or “adult credit card processing” can lead a merchant to finding a number of different payment service providers that specialize in the adult industry. This method can give merchants a number of different options when contacting prospective payment processors, but knowing if the payment processor is one of the best in the adult industry can be difficult without having much information beside the search results about these companies.

A common way that many merchants find a payment processor for their business is by accessing some of the online forums that specialize in the adult or other high risk industries.  Many of these forums allow for merchant services providers to advertise their companies and allow for easy access by merchants to ask the necessary questions of the companies.  Some forums will rank payment processors due to a number of factors, while many of the websites might provide good information, some websites can use other ranking factors that can lead to skewed results and potentially misleading information.

Probably one of the better ways for adult merchants to find the best adult payment processor would be to ask for referrals from other business owners in the industry. When receiving a referral from another merchant, customers will know that the merchant services provider has experience in the adult industry and that the payment processor has provided good customer services in the past.  This unbiased information can be worth its weight in gold in the future if the merchant and merchant services company can build a solid, long term relationship.

However an adult merchant finds a payment processor, it is always best to make sure that the payment processor can accept adult clients and that they are available to help you throughout the term of the agreement.  Stability in the merchant services along with a good customer services program can make the management of an adult merchant account much easier and help the business run much smoother.

How do you know they are the best adult payment processor?

Verifying the claims of a merchant services company can be complicated at times, operating in an industry that is small and not widely discussed, finding quality information about different companies can take some effort. One of the best ways to learn about a specific payment service provider, or to find a list of the best adult payment processors is to read industry publications geared towards businesses and the business owners.

Many of the credit card processing review sites and blogs work on a pay to play basis, meaning not all payment processors are reviewed or listed in the rankings, rather its only the companies willing to advertise. Such companies as Card Payment Options require users to pay to be listed on their sites, with the highest bidders receiving the top spots in their reviews of merchant services companies. How can websites that operate in this manner give merchants an unbiased and accurate review of a payment processor’s services when these determinations geared towards advertisers?

Another common place for merchants in the adult industry to go and seek out information is online at the various industry forums. While many of the users have an association with the adult industry at varying degrees, its been known for some companies to enlist employees to follow these forums and post replies as being the best adult payment processor that might otherwise not warrant such high regard. Similar to the review sites of the internet, merchants might want to take information found on forum with a grain of salt and research into greater depth on their own.

Many times businesses will find quality merchant service providers after speaking with other companies in the industry, by asking for a reference to their payment processing service many merchants have found solid companies to partner with. As one of the safest and most reliable sources of information, other businesses can usually give merchants an idea of how good one company is and what to services to look for or features to ask about when applying for merchant services.

As most information on the internet, merchants should be critical and question the sources of the information they are reading. Many review websites and industry forums provide biased information that might not always be accurate and the payment processing services might not be the best option available to merchants. Using information from trusted sources from within the industry or by conducting in-depth research on the various payment processors firsthand might prove to be one of the better ways to determine the best adult payment processor for an adult business.

Who are the best adult payment processors?

Many companies working in the adult credit card processing industry offer a variety of different services for different segments.  As a full service adult merchant account provider, we have always felt that our staff at Adult Merchant Services is one of the best companies for adult merchants to partner with.  We urge merchants shopping for a new adult merchant account to contact one of our helpful adult payment professionals for more information about what we can offer and what we can save most businesses that partner with us.

adult merchant underwriting

Adult Merchant Underwriting Guidelines

In the merchant account industry, the payment service providers and merchant acquirers are required to follow the procedures established by Visa and MasterCard’s payment card association to complete the proper adult merchant underwriting process while higher risk payment processors and acquiring banks have additional guidelines and requirements to follow when considering an adult merchant account application. Many of these higher risk payment processors and acquiring banks also have their own internal guidelines and protocols in place that they follow in addition to the payment card association guidelines to determine the risk of a prospective business apply for adult merchant services.

Who enforces the adult merchant underwriting guidelines?

The payment card association of Visa and MasterCard has established strict rules and regulations for the members of their payment card network to follow, whether they are underwriting new merchants or are the merchants themselves. These guidelines help insure that the products or services being offered along with the other practices of the merchant members of the network fully abide by all local and federal laws and assist in the maintenance of the card brand reputation.

Underwriters from the various payment service providers, acquirers and other payment facilitating organizations are required to verify that the guidelines set forth in their payment card network agreements are maintained by merchants and prospective merchants before being admitted to the network. Failure to maintain compliance with these guidelines can jeopardize both the merchant’s and the merchant acquirer’s relationship with the card association; resulting in warnings, fines or the possible loss of their card network relationship.

What are the adult merchant underwriting guidelines?

Adult businesses operate in an environment that can open themselves up to many potential legalities or other problems that more conventional businesses do not normally face. This has lead the card brands that are part of the payment card association to create their strict guidelines and provide underwriters and payment service providers with updated information about their concerns and potential problems they may face when reviewing new or auditing existing merchant accounts.

To keep payment services providers updated and informed with the card association guidelines, each member of the payment card association has created their own acquirers program; Visa named their program the Global Brand Protection Program (GBPP) and MasterCard refers to their program as the Business Risk Assessment and Mitigation (BRAM).  Both companies regularly review and update their programs to reflect the changes and concerns that they want to inform acquirers and merchants to.

Though each program has different guidelines and regulations to follow,  higher risk industries share most of the terms and conditions, including the requirements of adult merchants accepting credit cards.  A few of the most important conditions that both companies require are:

  • 2257 Compliance
  • No Child Exploitation
  • No Offensive Adult Pornography
  • Certified Web Scan Completion
  • Members Area/Password Protected
  • Proper MCC Coding

One of the most important requirements of online adult merchants is the 2257 Compliance required by federal law, meaning that whether they produce content or publish content, they have to know that the material being used is within the guidelines of the law. Producers, both the creators of the content and the organizations that publish content, print and/or electronically, must maintain specific records that can be produced upon request by the FBI during unannounced visits, failure to maintain these records or any violations will lead to strict punishments.

Another important audit done by payment service providers checks that the content on the merchant’s website do not portray, reference or otherwise imply any type of offensive pornography, including images or speech from the webmasters or users alike. Using companies such as G2 to run onsite and offsite scans to check for any violations or questionable content is a common practice of underwriters prior to accepting a merchant and periodically during the merchant services agreement.

During the adult merchant underwriting process, the acquirers check that the content published by the merchant is legal and compliant with federal compliance guidelines and are also confirming that the website is not accessible by non paying web browsers. To maintain the security of an adult website and to prevent any potential legal ramifications, it is important for webmasters to install a members area that prevents adult material from being viewed by users that might be underage in the jurisdiction.

One of the final rules that the payment card association enforces is the use of the correct MCC (merchant category code) for the adult businesses. Content providers, publishers and other publications are generally placed in MCC 5967, requiring USA acquirers to charge merchants an annual registration fee for being an adult business.  Adult video stores and similar type businesses are generally placed in MCC 7841 whose merchants are not necessarily required to register with the card association and pay the annual fee.  This is the reason why MCC enforcement confirms that all merchants are properly coded to their correct industry to prevent any problems with the card association or other legal consequences that might be affecting the industry in its entirety.

Why are the adult merchant underwriting guidelines so strict?

The payment card association realizes that the adult industry generates a substantial amount of revenue for the themselves and the banks they partner with, but there are also large risks that come with allowing these merchants to access their payment card network. As an industry that operates in an area that attracts a significant amount of attention, and many times the attention is negative, has the potential for legal problems that can loom overhead.

Insuring that merchants are in compliance with 18 U.S.C. §2257 can help protect the merchant services companies, merchant acquirers and card brands from any potential legal problems that might arise from a violation on the business side.  Merchants can face enormous fines and up to 5 years in jail for their first violation, while companies or individuals that may not be publishing material but are otherwise benefiting from the sales of content can also potentially face large fines and up to a year a prison for a violation of 2257.

How do acquirers keep merchants compliant?

Upon approval with the payment services provider or acquirer, merchants of MCC 5967 are registered as an adult provider with MasterCard of the payment card association. The annual fee for registration in the USA is $500, charged to the merchant by the acquirer informs MasterCard that the acquirer has verified the merchant’s compliance and that the merchant remain in compliance during their tenure as an adult content publisher.

Another way that the acquirer and payment service providers check on merchants in MCC 5967 is by running site wide scans of their content along with offsite scans to verify that no violations or potential violations have occurred since the last yearly review. Protecting both the merchants and acquirers helps keep the adult industry compliant with federal laws and helps fuel its exponential online payments growth year over year.

Where do you start your adult merchant underwriting process?

Merchants operating an adult business that feel they should become compliant with the payment card association guidelines or are processing outside the USA and want to change to a domestic bank are encouraged to speak to one of our adult merchant account professionals. Our team at Adult Merchant Services will be happy to answer any questions or clear up any uncertainties about your company and help direct you to the best solution for your adult credit card processing and adult merchant account needs.

pci compliance

What is PCI Compliance?

PCI Compliance 101

As technology advances and credit card usage increases, the threat to both cardholders and merchants of payment account theft continues to grow.  Large corporations such as Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and TJ Maxx have all fallen victim to data breaches from cybertheft.  These instances end up costing corporations hundreds of millions of dollars and affect the tens of millions of cardholders who used these retailers.  In an attempt to prevent future attacks and protect the information of the cardholders, the PCI Security Standard Council was formed to combat this growing problem.

In 2006, the Payment Card Industry (PCI) council was created to help train and educate vendors, merchants, hardware and software manufacturers along with other financial institutions about fraud and securing customer payment card account information. Through educational material and industry-wide guidelines, PCI security standards were set in place to help combat fraud and provide safe and secure environments for customers shopping online, over the phone or in a retail locations.

Who is the Payment Card Industry?

The Payment Card Industry council, comprised of the members who are responsible for creating the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) are the largest payment card brands and payment card networks in the financial services industry, including:

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • JCB

These members are all responsible for creating, maintaining and updating the PCI standards that vendors, merchants and financial institutions are required to abide by when handling customer card account information.

What is PCI-DSS Compliance and Why Does It Exist?

As technology has evolved and payment cards have grown to become the most common form of payment, the threat of fraud and the cost of payment card theft has also increased. In 2017 alone, over 1 million cases of payment card fraud was reported to the FTC, resulting in over $900 million worth of fraud losses by merchants, financial institutions and credit card networks.

By creating the PCI-DSS standards and requiring financial institutions to ensure vendors and merchants are compliant every year, the Payment Card Industry is working to prevent some forms of credit card fraud. The goals that were set forth by the PCI council include:

  • Building and Maintaining a Secure Payment Network
  • Protecting Cardholder Account Information
  • Maintain a Network Security Management Program
  • Require Strict Access Controls by Merchants
  • Regular Monitoring and Testing of Network Security
  • Maintain a Policy of Security Measure for Network Users

Maintaining a Secure Network: Merchants utilizing credit card terminals, point of sale systems and/or payment gateway applications are required to maintain a firewall to strengthen the network security and lessen the threat of any security breaches. When merchants are set up with new payment card services and equipment, when an employee leaves the business or as an ongoing security precaution; merchants are required to maintain strong passwords that can not be easily guessed and are encouraged to change passwords on a regular basis.

Protecting Cardholder Data: Businesses that store cardholder data for future billing are responsible for maintaining the account information in a secure manner that prevents the possibility of theft or fraud. Account information should never be written down or stored in a physical manner, rather it should be held in a PCI Compliant location that prevents full account information from being accessible. When sending card account information online from a shopping cart through a payment gateway or through a wireless card reader, card account information is required to be encrypted to prevent any possible threats from vulnerable connections or programs.

System Management Programs: Merchants operating e commerce websites or using wifi connections to transmit payment card transactions should maintain a strong system security protocols; whether its by using a secured WiFi connection, utilizing anti virus software on a computer or maintaining a TLS/SSL certificate for e commerce websites, maintaining this high level of protection will help ensure that transactions are sent through secure environments, reducing the chances of information being compromised.

Physical Access Control: One of the most common ways that cardholder account data is lost and compromised is through the physical handling of payment card information. This threat can be limited by controlling the access by employees to the cardholder information, restricting this account information to only individuals that are required to handle the cardholder data. Merchants using POS systems, using a payment gateway or virtual terminal can restrict employee access to cardholder data by implementing user accounts and controlling the permissions within those accounts. Merchants should never store cardholder account information in a physical form, rather utilize a secure PCI compliant storage application to retain this sensitive data.

Ongoing Testing of Networks: PCI Compliance requires merchants to perform annual, if not more frequent, testing of their systems to ensure that all security protocols and programs are functioning properly. These scans are conducted through various companies, whether its sponsored by the merchant acquirer or from an outside company, demonstrating that all parts of the network are fully PCI Compliant.

Maintaining Current Security Policies: Keeping employees, along with the merchants, up to date on PCI regulations and guidelines is one of the best ways to insure that the business remains compliant during the course of the year. By providing ongoing information and training, merchants can make sure that all facets of their business from their website and credit card terminals to their payment gateway and employees are fully aware and current with all aspects of the PCI-DSS regulations.

Why Does PCI Compliance matter?

The members of the Payment Card Industry came together to help create an environment for merchants and customers alike that promoted security and trust among all individuals using the payment card networks. When security is strengthened by all users, it excels the growth of the network by allowing for more customers to feel confident and use their payment cards more often while merchants will realize more sales and larger revenues.

Without guidelines for the network access, merchants and financial institutions along with the payment card brands risk losing the trust of customers, a potential threat that could cripple the industry indefinitely, this is why PCI-DSS standards and guidelines have been established and required the compliance of merchants, vendors and financial institutions.

Non-compliance by companies can create a variety of potential costly and troublesome problems with not only the Payment Card Networks but also a number of different industries closely associated with the financial system. Potential problems that could arise from non-compliance includes:

  • Increased costs of merchant services
  • Fines and penalties from the Payment Card Industry
  • Termination of merchant services by the PCI
  • Costs from legal judgments and any settlements
  • Loss of customer trust with a business
  • Decline in revenues or incomes, potential loss of job
  • Closing of the business

Though some of these scenarios can appear to be extreme, the costs associated with non-compliance can become tremendous if a theft or fraud does occur due to a merchant’s inaction to become or maintain compliance.

Who Needs to be PCI Compliant?

Any business or company that has access provides a payment service or builds hardware to accept payments is required to follow the PCI guidelines for compliance. These businesses include, but are not limited to:

  • Merchants; including all employees regardless of their industry
  • Financial institutions; including merchant acquirers and payment service providers
  • Manufacturers of credit card terminals and POS systems
  • Payment gateway service providers
  • Web hosting companies providing e Commerce hosting services
  • Online shopping cart services
  • e Wallet service providers

Some of these businesses might not directly handle payment card transactions, but the security protocols and services they provide that are used by merchants should at minimum reach the standards set forth by the Payment Card Industry.

How do Merchants become PCI Compliant?

PCI Compliance for smaller companies can be accomplished through self-assessmentss that are provided online by the merchant acquirers. Answering a series of questions as to the practices and methods of payment card acceptance, the merchant acquirer can determine if the business is operating in a way that limits their potential for payment card fraud. Some of the questions that are asked of merchants during their PCI Compliance scan are:

  • If anti-virus security software is used on their computer systems
  • If the merchant uses a firewall to prevent remote access to their computer systems
  • The strength of the passwords and the frequency of which they are changed
  • The type of software they using on their computers
  • The name of their payment gateway service
  • The name of other security services providers (SSL
  • The types of credit card terminals (if they accept EMV chip cards)
  • The practices of employees for accepting payments ( mail order, phone order and in store)
  • How card account information is stored for future billing purposes

Merchants that are located in throughout the world are required to maintain their PCI Compliance, while the level of compliance and the dates that compliance is required by might vary, the program does exist throughout the world where payment card transactions are accepted.

Merchants are classified as one of a 4 levels depending on the amount of transactions per year that they are processing through their networks. Larger merchants require additional security measures than smaller merchants. The levels of PCI Compliance are determined by the following:

  • Level 1 – More than 6,000,000 transactions annually
  • Level 2 – Between 1,000,000 and 5,999,999 transactions annually
  • Level 3 – Between 20,000 and 999,999 transactions annually
  • Level 4 – Less than 20,000 transactions annually

Level 1 merchants are required to do the annual self assessment questionnaire along with an annual onsite audit conducted by a certified security assessor. Merchants in levels 2 – 4 are required to complete a yearly self assessment questionnaire and partake in a remote scan of their merchant hardware and software.

Who Checks that Companies are PCI Compliant?

Level 1 merchants along with third party payment processors that are connected to VisaNet and MasterCard are required to participate in yearly onsite audits of their software, hardware and procedures. Level 2-4 merchants have remote scans available to them to audit their business in a rather quick and simple process, some annual audits can be finished in under 10 minutes.

Onsite PCI DSS compliance audits are administered by Qualified Security Assessors (QSA) that are located throughout the world, servicing various regions, countries and markets. With well over 100 different companies throughout the world that are recognized as qualified by the Payment Card Industry as authorized assessors, merchants and payment processors can rather quickly find an assessor to audit their company.

Questions about PCI Compliance for Adult Merchants

Merchants and other companies operating in the adult industry that have any questions or concerns about their current PCI Compliance or about becoming PCI Compliant can contact one of our adult merchant account professionals at Adult Merchant Services. Our team will be happy to speak with any merchants and help direct them in the right direction.