Payment Services

This page is a collective effort of Banned Writers members to make quick evaluations of the various large scale (US, EU, Oceana) payment services. One thing the PayPal firestorm has taught us all, is that we’d be fools to lock our commerce systems into a single payment provider if we can possibly avoid it.  We present here information about a payment company, it’s ‘icky’ policy, and, a link to the relevant TOS or user agreement.

We have 16 payment service currently rated.

This page is a call to all Banned Writers members (and other interested parties) to help. We need your input.

Can you help gather data?

This list is intended to be a resource for writers, presses, and small publishers.

Very special thanks to Erika L Firanc and JR Wesley for a tremendous amount of research work for this effort.

If you’d like to help, or have data, or have an opinion on format or other information that would be useful for this page (for example,would posting fee policies here be a good idea, or too much info?),  please comment below!

Company Ick Policy Summary Relevant passages TOS Link
2checkout “Sexually oriented” “If your products or services are listed below, although our standard accounts will not fit your company, 2CO has additional options and may be able to provide you with an alternative solution.
-Illegal and Potentially Illegal Products/Services
-Adult Entertainment (Sexually Oriented)
-Pre-Adult Content- Pictures, Videos, etc. of individuals under the age of 18″
FAQProhibition List
Ayden “Adult Content” Under “2.11 WARNING – FINES SCHEME OWNERS”:”For violations of certain key requirements under the Scheme Rules by Merchants, some Scheme Owners (and in particular the Card Schemes) can levy significant Fines, ranging from 25.000 euro to over 1 million euro. [...] Key examples of Scheme Rules which are subject to such Fines: [...] (iii) using the Payment Method for selling Merchant Products and Services for which the Scheme Owner explicitly prohibited its use (e.g. adult content, medicine, arms);” TOS Download
CCBill “Obscene; publicly immoral; company finds it offensive” “Prohibited are Goods, literature, products, or other materials that: […]• Contravene public morality • Are considered obscene4. ILLEGAL PRODUCTS, REGULATED GOODS AND MISC. ITEMS THAT WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED […]Any other items or activities which in Company’s judgment are illegal, inappropriate, or offensive”NOTE: If many adult companies use CCBill this is either an axe waiting to fall, or a meaningless restriction. Terms and Conditions
Dwolla
(US Only)
‘None’, but see letter. “Per our terms and services, as long as the product being sold via Dwolla is not deemed illegal then you are able to utilize the Dwolla system.” TOS Link
Entropay
(US Only)
VISA Prepaid VISA card – not a payement service per seRESTRICTIONS: Lawful Conduct and Prohibited Activities - Use the Service in any way that is illegal in any jurisdiction in which you are present or conduct business in or in which Provider is present or conducts business in. TermsRestrictions
Google Checkout “Sexually suggestive materials, porn involving minors, contravene public morality” Unacceptable product categories & Examples: Adult goods and services (Pornography and other sexually suggestive materials (including literature, imagery and other media); escort or dating services; novelties and toys); Child pornography (Pornographic materials involving minors, or content that can be perceived as pedophilia erotica) Offensive goods (Goods, literature, products, or other materials that: […]Contravene public morality” Policies Content Policy
Gumroad “obsene, profane” “Posting and Communication Restrictions. You will not post on the Website, transmit to other Users, communicate any User Content (or links thereto) or Digital Goods (or links thereto), or otherwise engage in any activity on the Website or through the Service, that:promotes racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual;is defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, obscene, profane, child pornographic, offensive, obscene or otherwise objectionable;harmful to minors in any way;”Note: That last shouldn’t be relevant… unless they decide that any “adult content” is “harmful to minors.” However, they don’t specifically have rules against adult content or “pornography,” and may be fine with processing pretty much any legal erotica. User Agreement
PayLoadz Nothing illegal “You may not use the PayLoadz System or the products or services provided through or in connection with the PayLoadz System to:child pornography – hosting, distributing, or linking to pornography Involving a person under legal age.” Terms
Payoneer MasterCard (Payoneer Prepaid MasterCard is issued by Choice Bank Limited or First Covenant Bank) (Ecommerce businesses such as Plimus, 2Checkout and Avangate currently offer Payoneer’s prepaid MasterCard for ecommerce payment processing.) NOT an online payment system; it’s a prepaid Mastercard. People have to apply for it, and vendors have to figure out a way to accept it. FAQ
PayPal “Miller Test” “…prohibit use of PayPal for the sale of e-books that contain child pornography, or e-books with text and obscene images of rape, bestiality or incest (as defined by the U.S. legal standard for obscenity: material that appeals to the prurient interest, depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value).” Legal Agreements Links
PaySimple “Prohibited Activities” Illegal use Using the Services to transmit any material that, intentionally or unintentionally, violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, or any rules or regulations there under.
Offensive Materials Disseminating or posting material that is unlawful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, indecent, lewd, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory or otherwise objectionable as determined by PaySimple.”
Restrictions
Primus “Pornography & adult content” “You may not sell or promote any of the items listed below: […] Pornography and adult content of any sort including and not limited to pre-adult content featuring individuals under the age of 18 Years. This includes products or content on your web site where Plimus BuyNow links are placed”NOTE: WTF is “pre-adult content?”
Legal/ Prohibitions
SimpleMerchantAccounts (TBD) No… “relevant quote” TOS Link
Skrill
(was Moneybookers)
“Porn and hardcore content” “6.7. It is strictly forbidden to send payments in order to pay for: […]porn and hardcore content or services” TOS Link
Stripe (Wells Fargo ties) “Sexually-oriented content” By registering for a Stripe Service Account, you are confirming that you will not accept payments in connection with the following businesses, business activities or business practices: [...] (38) sexually-oriented or pornographic products or services” TOS Link
Squareup(US Only) “adult entertainment, occult” “you will not accept payments in connection with the following businesses or business activities: […](22) adult entertainment oriented products or services (in any medium, e.g., internet, telephone or printed material) […](26) occult materials” User Agreement
WePay  “Obscene or pornographic” Listed under Restricted Activities: “The following uses are prohibited by the WePay Terms of Service. Any Account found to be created for the following uses will be closed. [...]• Using WePay to sell: *items that are obscene or pornographic”(Sending an email to request clarification got a reply of: “Best way to ensure that your products don’t violate our terms of service is to send some examples in to our review team. They can review them and let you know!” TOS Link
Company Ick Relevant Passages TOS Link

16 Responses to Payment Services

  1. Erika L Firanc on March 15, 2012 at 2:12 am

    I’d be happy to help gather data. (I’ve been doing research in this direction for a while for ForbiddenFiction.com, although I didn’t specifically track the results.) I think the basic format is good, but may need some tweaking–it may be useful to quote more than one section of a TOS, because different parts my object to different types of materials. (For example, a payment company may have different terms for physical and digital objects, or different for products vs services, and each of those might have its own definitions of “icky content” it won’t deal with.)

    It’d probably be a good idea to collect a dozen or so payment sites and sort out what they don’t allow before going public with them, because enough have similarly-phrased policies that the “icky policy summary” could probably mostly be a handful of phrases, with the ability to make new ones as necessary. (PayPal’s new policy of Miller Test might be unique; most don’t allow “pornographic or sexual content.”)

  2. Raziel Moore on March 15, 2012 at 2:23 am

    I agree on al your points, Erika. I want to balance hitting the correct quotes with not having too much verbiage in the table, though. I guess we’ll see what is needed when we evaluate more policies.

    As for the “icky policy summary” I also agree. It’s possible that “PorSC” for “pornographic or sexual content” may be one of our ‘standard’ terms if it is oft-repeated.

  3. Erika L Firanc on March 15, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Companies I’ve looked into:

    CCBill, Dwolla, WePay, Stripe, Ayden, SimpleMerchantAccounts (“Merchant is responsible and liable for the cats or omission of its employees”) and some others that I don’t have specific records of, but could find again.

    • Raziel Moore on March 15, 2012 at 2:40 am

      Excellent! I’ll make placeholder entries, at least to see how it looks to start.

  4. Erika L Firanc on March 15, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Links to screencaps might work for additional reference, especially since some companies might try to hide the specific details of their TOS if they get enough negative feedback.

    • JR Wesley on March 15, 2012 at 3:04 am

      It would be against their best interests to hide the specifics of their Terms related to sexual content.

      The sense I’ve been getting from the various TOS’s is that no one has ever bothered to expressly question why erotica was lumped in with pornography. Now that PayPal has publicly [favorably] clarified their policy stance, with the blessing of the credit card companies, I think most of the PayPal competitors could also be brought around to a more enlightened policy for erotica.

      • Raziel Moore on March 15, 2012 at 3:15 am

        That’s exactly my hope – and a primary reason for this page to exist. I would like a place to point to and say to a payment company, “look what your competitors are doing”.

  5. JR Wesley on March 15, 2012 at 2:47 am

    My two cents:
    As Erika noted, PayPal’s “Miller Test” is unique. Most TOS policies don’t have an easy way to be summarized, and contain phrases that are ambiguous. Simply having the “relevant passage” column would probably be the best data capture (there are a few that say some version of sexually or adult oriented content, but all are worded differently – as an interesting note, only GoogleCheckout’s TOS has a policy statement specific enough to include literature under it’s “adult goods and services” stipulation).

    Location availability would also be useful, specifically regarding where someone can open up a merchant (receiver) account and where a potential customer (sender) can open an account.

    Some of the companies that I’ve been looking at over the last few weeks:
    Dwolla.com
    Stripe.com (waiting to hear back from their underwriters to specify their policy)
    WePay.com
    Skrill.com (aka Moneybookers)
    Payoneer.com
    2checkout.com
    Squareup.com (Specifically, if their CardCase app can be used not in proximity to a physical store. If not, they are only useful for in-person sales.)

    • Raziel Moore on March 15, 2012 at 3:01 am

      Those are all great suggestions. And I agree with the difficulties. I guess to start we might be better to air on the side of ‘over-inclusiveness’ of information. We can pare it down or divide it differently if it gets too hard to follow.

  6. Erika L Firanc on March 15, 2012 at 3:20 am

    I hope the formatting here works. First roundup of info.
    Ayden (http://www.adyen.com/): TOS on remote site, downloadable from https://support.adyen.com/index.php?_m=downloads&_a=viewdownload&downloaditemid=57
    RESTRICTION: “adult content.”
    Pg 5, under “2.11 WARNING – FINES SCHEME OWNERS”:

    For violations of certain key requirements under the Scheme Rules by Merchants, some Scheme Owners (and in particular the Card Schemes) can levy significant Fines, ranging from 25.000 euro to over 1 million euro. [...] Key examples of Scheme Rules which are subject to such Fines: [...] (iii) using the Payment Method for selling Merchant Products and Services for which the Scheme Owner explicitly prohibited its use (e.g. adult content, medicine, arms);

    Dwolla (http://dwolla.com): TOS https://www.dwolla.com/tos?height=200&width=400&nolayout=true
    No content/product restrictions; an email sent to them got a response (http://www.voy.com/65598/3647.html)

    Per our terms and services, as long as the product being sold via Dwolla is not deemed illegal then you are able to utilize the Dwolla system.

    (Caveat: US Only.)
    WePay (https://www.wepay.com): TOS https://www.wepay.com/about/terms
    RESTRICTION: “Obscene or pornographic”. Listed under Restricted Activities:

    The following uses are prohibited by the WePay Terms of Service. Any Account found to be created for the following uses will be closed.
    [...]• Using WePay to sell:
    *items that are obscene or pornographic

    (Sending an email to request clarification got a reply of Best way to ensure that your products don’t violate our terms of service is to send some examples in to our review team. They can review them and let you know!”)
    Stripe (https://stripe.com/): TOS https://stripe.com/terms
    RESTRICTIONS: Sexually-oriented content

    By registering for a Stripe Service Account, you are confirming that you will not accept payments in connection with the following businesses, business activities or business practices: [...] (38) sexually-oriented or pornographic products or services

    Note: tied to Wells Fargo bank.

  7. Erika L Firanc on March 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    More payment processors! (It’ll take me a while to get SimpleMerchantAccounts’ details; their TOS is a 7-page legal-sized doc in 4pt type. I’ve mostly converted it to Word, but I haven’t sorted out the right phrases yet. Mostly, it accepts any content, and it wants ridiculous financial concessions for that.)

    Payoneer http://payoneer.com/ FAQ http://www.payoneer.com/faq.aspx#About_the_Payoneer_Prepaid_MasterCard (Payoneer Prepaid MasterCard is issued by Choice Bank Limited or First Covenant Bank) (Ecommerce businesses such as Plimus, 2Checkout and Avangate currently offer Payoneer’s prepaid MasterCard for ecommerce payment processing.) NOT an online payment system; it’s a prepaid Mastercard. People have to apply for it, and vendors have to figure out a way to accept it. (They have affiliates; I’ll look into those.)

    Plimus http://home.plimus.com/ecommerce/ Legal/Prohibitions: http://home.plimus.com/ecommerce/company/legal/prohibitions-dmca#prohibited
    RESTRICTIONS: Pornography & adult content

    You may not sell or promote any of the items listed below: […] Pornography and adult content of any sort including and not limited to pre-adult content featuring individuals under the age of 18 Years. This includes products or content on your web site where Plimus BuyNow links are placed

    NOTES: WTF is “pre-adult content?”

    Skrill/Moneybookers https://www.moneybookers.com/app/ TOS https://www.moneybookers.com/app/help.pl?s=terms
    RESTRICTIONS: “Porn and hardcore content”

    6.7. It is strictly forbidden to send payments in order to pay for: […]porn and hardcore content or services

    Squareup https://squareup.com/ User Agreement https://squareup.com/legal/ua
    RESTRICTIONS: adult entertainment, occult (are vampire novels “occult materials?”)

    you will not accept payments in connection with the following businesses or business activities: […](22) adult entertainment oriented products or services (in any medium, e.g., internet, telephone or printed material) […](26) occult materials

    Also, US-only

    CCBill http://www.ccbill.com/ Client Terms & Conditions http://www.ccbill.com/cs/client/policies/ccbill/terms_and_conditions_cc.html
    RESTRICTIONS: Obscene; publicly immoral; company finds it offensive

    Prohibited are Goods, literature, products, or other materials that: […]• Contravene public morality • Are considered obscene

    4. ILLEGAL PRODUCTS, REGULATED GOODS AND MISC. ITEMS THAT WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED […]Any other items or activities which in Company’s judgment are illegal, inappropriate, or offensive

    Google Checkout checkout.google.com TOS http://checkout.google.com/seller/policies.html Content Policy: https://support.google.com/checkout/sell/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=75724
    RESTRICTIONS: Sexually suggestive materials, porn involving minors, contravene public morality

    Unacceptable product categories & Examples: Adult goods and services (Pornography and other sexually suggestive materials (including literature, imagery and other media); escort or dating services; novelties and toys); Child pornography (Pornographic materials involving minors, or content that can be perceived as pedophilia erotica) Offensive goods (Goods, literature, products, or other materials that: […]Contravene public morality

  8. JR Wesley on March 19, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Copying formatting as best as I can.

    2Checkout http://www.2checkout.com/ FAQ http://www.2checkout.com/faq/
    RESTRICTIONS: Prohibited Product List https://www.2checkout.com/ppl/

    If your products or services are listed below, although our standard accounts will not fit your company, 2CO has additional options and may be able to provide you with an alternative solution.
    -Illegal and Potentially Illegal Products/Services
    -Adult Entertainment (Sexually Oriented)
    -Pre-Adult Content- Pictures, Videos, etc. of individuals under the age of 18

  9. JR Wesley on March 22, 2012 at 3:59 am

    Stumbled across another similar to Payoneer, except associated with VISA instead of MasterCard.

    To clarifiy, yes, neither are payment processors. What I’m looking at them for is an alternate method to distribute royalties.

    Entropay https://payment-solutions.entropay.com/index.php Terms https://www.entropay.com/popups/terms.general.php
    RESTRICTIONS: Lawful Conduct and Prohibited Activities https://www.entropay.com/popups/terms.general.php#business

    Use the Service in any way that is illegal in any jurisdiction in which you are present or conduct business in or in which Provider is present or conducts business in.

  10. JR Wesley on March 22, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    PaySimple http://paysimple.com/
    RESTRICTIONS: Prohibited Activities http://www.paysimple.com/aup.html

    Illegal use Using the Services to transmit any material that, intentionally or unintentionally, violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, or any rules or regulations there under.
    Offensive Materials Disseminating or posting material that is unlawful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, indecent, lewd, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory or otherwise objectionable as determined by PaySimple.

  11. Erika L Firanc on March 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Gumroad: https://gumroad.com/
    RESTRICTIONS: User Agreement https://gumroad.com/about/terms

    Posting and Communication Restrictions. You will not post on the Website, transmit to other Users, communicate any User Content (or links thereto) or Digital Goods (or links thereto), or otherwise engage in any activity on the Website or through the Service, that:promotes racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual;is defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, obscene, profane, child pornographic, offensive, obscene or otherwise objectionable;harmful to minors in any way;

    That last shouldn’t be relevant… unless they decide that any “adult content” is “harmful to minors.” However, they don’t specifically have rules against adult content or “pornography,” and may be fine with processing pretty much any legal erotica.

  12. B. Alae on October 25, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I was looking at adult affiliate sites and many seem to use Paxum.com, which I did not see listed here

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