Someone processes adult sales. Who are they?
May 9, 2012 2:12 PM   Subscribe

I need names of United States banks that offer merchant accounts for adult web businesses.

I have grown beyond my need for the processing services of someone else. I would like to transition my decade+ adult website to a merchant account of my own, and am starting my search.

Not every bank is willing to do it. I am contacting some, but having a list of banks currently providing merchant accounts to the adult industry would shave a lot of legwork off my search.

Note: I am NOT looking for a third party solution that gets between me and the bank. No CCBill, Verotel, Ibill...

Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your safest bet is to go with those third parties. It will cover your ass somewhat. Just speaking from experience.
posted by melt away at 2:24 PM on May 9, 2012

Technically, no matter what you do online, you need a third party solution that gets between you and the bank -- it's called a payment gateway. They are essentially a virtual ZON machine, the facility to "swipe" a card and get a response from the merchant account bank. Using the payment gateway's code, you can still essentially "hide" the payment gateway's existence, so the end user doesn't need to know who's handling the transaction, which I believe is your actual goal by not using CCBill et al.

Getting a merchant account for intangibles (website membership, online subscriptions, etc. -- things not delivered by a postman or UPS) is a very, very difficult process and not financially viable for a single small website doing a couple thousand dollars a month in business. You're better off using CCBill, it's just easier, cheaper, faster, and pretty much every other non-negative adjective you can come up with to compare CCBill to getting a merchant account for intangible adult products.

If you're selling tangibles -- DVDs, toys, books, magazines, etc -- an adult website I did the integration for used e-onlinedata for credit card transactions for tangible adult products. They have an API so, when checkout is complete, the website asks the merchant account system for authorization, gets a response, and if it was successful the payment is credited to your bank account within a few days (minus fees). Realize, however, that this is still enormously complex system to put into place -- you need to have PCI compliance for your website to avoid hackers stealing credit card information, you need to be able to write extensive error handling to avoid charging when you don't intend to or doing whatever happens when a charge fails, and a variety of other handling abilities -- do you attempt to run a charge if the credit card number entered by the customer is only 11 digits, or has a letter in it? How do you implement credit card checksum checking? Do you validate ZIP codes before running the charge? What about international customrs? The complciations of security compliance and data validation are why most small-scale websites go with a CCBill or other payment processing service anyway. It's not for the faint-hearted. If you end up doing a bunch of refunds or have chargebacks because transactions aren't being handled correctly, you'll lose your merchant account anyway -- and you're not going to fare well if a security hole gets traceed back to you.
posted by AzraelBrown at 8:07 AM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

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