If you run an online dating site, you may stumble upon some hidden pitfalls while creating a merchant account and choosing a payment gateway. Even though the digital adult content market reached US$ 44.8 Bn in 2022, it is still considered a high-risk industry for payment providers.
But before rushing further, it is better to clarify which businesses fall into digital adult entertainment. You may mistakenly believe that only unabashedly sex-themed websites with erotic and pornographic content are worth the title. However, any online dating site has the potential to be denied by b2b service providers and marked as high-risky.
So even if your website has pure intentions to match potential soulmates for long-term dating, modestly dressed couples on your homepage couldn't help a payment provider to accept you as a client.
Here are examples of some categories of adult entertainment:
There are several reasons why payment providers won’t accept working with adult entertainment businesses such as online dating:
By following their instincts, users are less alert and conscious while navigating through any explicit content or dating sites. It gives the opportunity to online criminals to take advantage. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2020 alone online daters lost around $304 million. This number increased during COVID 19 pandemy. However, online dating and adult content websites have been historically attractive to swindlers.
No matter how much income an online dating business generates, it maybe causes a reputation risk for companies that avoid being associated with the adult industry.
Businesses operating in an adult niche are usually heavily regulated by the local government. The age of consent may vary from state to state, so you must have transparently clear and strict website policies for users.
By allowing users to pay online, you are forcing them to share their payment details. If you have no clear policies for storing this data, nor the advanced technical measures to keep it secure, you put your clients and payment provider partner at high risk (and a scandal!). In this case, having a progressive security system is crucial for any dating site. If there is a small risk of a personal data leak, the site has no chance to be accepted by a payment provider. You can read more about safety on the dating site in the "Top safety features for dating sites to protect users from scams" article.
Before we list the payment providers and gateways we recommend, let's briefly see what to keep in mind while choosing a PG.
No one wants to spend even a dime on a website with a suspicious and unknown payment gateway. You have to provide users with a safe and easy-to-use checkout process if you want to keep them. Inform your customers about the system you are using by displaying the logos of reliable and popular payment options.
Always check all the costs that the provider will take from you. Calculate all the fees you are going to pay at each step while the payment is "traveling" from the client to your wallet. Apart from transactional fees, you may be charged for account usage, refunds, merchant account fees, etc. The main difficulty is that the majority of payment providers do not enclose the cost details for high-risk businesses like online dating. In this case, you may request a quote first to learn all the details.
Of course, the more payment gateways, the more chances the user will become a customer. However, you would rather have 3-4 popular payment options rather than 20 less-known. Think about the market you operate in, your target group, and clients' preferences.
There is no point in finding a good payment gateway that your website system does not support. Contact your dating platform providers, they might recommend to you the payment systems they operate with. Even if you are not sure about the dating site's compatibility with the particular payment gateway, if the last one has API, there is a chance they may match well together.
So which payment gateway to choose? Here are the popular online payment providers that most likely will accept online dating sites as clients:
Authorize.net has operated since 1996 and provides online payment solutions for various businesses in the US. To be able to get paid, you need to create a merchant account at the bank first. However, the company offers help in this procedure too. You can select their all-in-one option, and Authorize.net will help you with merchant account creation too.
Even though Stripe refuses to work with businesses providing adult content and services, it doesn't say anything about dating websites. So you may try your luck and apply for Stripe payment if your online project doesn't imply:
Keep in mind that Stripe does not operate in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and the Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk Regions.
PaymentCloud provides merchant services for small businesses including high-risk businesses like online dating. The company can not only provide you with the payment gateway but also helps you with starting a merchant account. Processing rates, as well as account fees, are not publicly disclosed, so for precise information, you better contact the company. PaymentCloud earned a good online reputation due to its personalized approach to each client. In case you won't be eligible for Stripe Payments, for example, you can apply for PC.
This payment provider has been operating for 2 decades and has built a reputation as one of the best on the market. Great customer service, reputation, and, according to the review, fair rates attract online business owners to use their services. It's a common practice for such companies to hide their fees and rates for high-risk businesses like online dating, so you have to request a quote for more information. If you are not a US resident and operate from abroad, Durango could help to set up an offshore merchant account.
Accepting payment on the website is a great opportunity to bring your business to a new level. With any possibility, there is a responsibility that you have to fulfill. If you are currently researching more about which payment providers to use for your dating website and need some help, contact us for more information and we'll try to help.
Alexa is a sure-handed digital marketing person who helps small and middle-size businesses to grow online. She believes that a well-thought SEO strategy, smart targeting, and communication strategy could skyrocket any business.