It’s no surprise that the adult entertainment industry is considered controversial. Just like any sex-based business, owners of firms in this space are placed under heightened scrutiny by the government and the public. Our type of work involves sexual activity.
Outsiders often regard this as a taboo line of work and that it’s nothing more than prostitution or the illegal sex trade. Despite this assumption, there is rarely unlawful behavior involved given that the United States Department of Justice strictly regulates the whole adult entertainment industry.
Financial discrimination, however, is a very real issue when dealing with the available banking resources needed for adult industry entrepreneurs. Adult Site Broker has over two decades of experience in the adult industry, having dealt with all sorts of challenges and limitations. We too have faced this kind of discrimination. But the challenges we’re describing in this blog post are some of the most controversial and hardest to overcome given the institutional powers of several major banks and financial institutions across the globe. In this blog post, the Adult Site Broker team discusses financial discrimination against adult entertainment industry entrepreneurs and tips on how to deal with such treatment from the banks.
Financial discrimination is a very real issue. Outside of economic limitations on the types of work that people engage in, financial discrimination is a phenomenon where banks and financial groups intentionally or unintentionally deny financial and banking products to certain groups of people.
This discrimination is based on race, ethnicity, religion, low-income status, employment status, line of work, and the source of income deposited into a bank account. Actions taken by the banks could be as simple as closing accounts without notice and not releasing funds to the account holder and can go as far as reporting bank accounts to law enforcement authorities for perceived irregular activity.
Many adult industry professionals experience some form of financial discrimination if their financial institution believes that there is illegal activity going on or if the checking or savings account is being used for sex-based work. Most financial institutions in the United States don’t allow bank members to use their financial accounts for sex-based work. So, there are several roadblocks to accessing reliable banking services if you are an adult industry entrepreneur.
Financial censorship is yet another issue facing the adult entertainment industry. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), financial censorship occurs “when financial institutions and payment intermediaries shut down accounts or inhibit transactions” on the internet. EFF adds that this practice could “have serious ramifications for free expression online.” All of this translates into a sobering realization that a very small number of payment intermediaries (credit card companies, for example) carry insane amounts of influence over a website’s ability to monetize certain content. Companies like Visa and Mastercard are additionally “ill-suited,” in the parlance of EFF, to balance out consequences and decisions related to the elimination of financial resources for adult sites.
After journalist Nicholas Kristof wrote the “Children of Pornhub” in The New York Times, the moral panic trumpeted by right- and left-wing anti-porn activists caused the major credit card companies like Mastercard and Visa to demonetize and try and block all transactions for Pornhub premium
This also limited the ability of content creators on Pornhub to cash out their earnings from their content and rev-share. Such a decision was so catastrophic that it constitutes clear financial censorship. It also took many months for the major tube site to reach an agreement with the necessary payment services to resume some semblance of payout and monetization that was pre-Kristof. The explicit financial censorship of the credit card companies was an overly broad response to a moral panic that holds absolutely no concern for the legitimate interests of Pornhub.
Other cases of financial censorship and discrimination are just as challenging. For example, Alana Evans – a well-regarded and critically-acclaimed pornstar – was the victim of financial censorship and discrimination when her bank unilaterally decided to close her accounts for working in porn.
Her bank, Wells Fargo, sent a letter saying that her account was closing. After she thought it was a joke, she found out that Wells Fargo did so on purpose for engaging in a legitimate business. “In one fell swoop, a bank like Wells Fargo could identify which of their customers are involved in legal sex work and remove us all,” Alana Evans wrote in a guest essay to The Daily Beast this past September.
“As tax-paying workers, we deserve protection against the biases of big banks,” she wrote. “Credit card giants like Mastercard and Visa have already buckled to pressure in refusing their business to adult companies like Pornhub. Now, the banks are focusing on the more vulnerable target: the workers just trying to survive. But I believe our strength has been proven time and time again.”
We at Adult Site Broker believe that we should all fight against this kind of discrimination against our industry.