Did you know that adult content is considered “high risk” by most payment processors? While it’s unclear to me exactly what that means (Are they worried about getting pregnant? Catching an STI? They know that can’t happen through the computer screen, right?) I do know what it means in real time for adult content producers: It’s harder to collect payment and, therefore, pay their own bills.
(And BTW, I’m being facetious when I joke about the payment processors getting pregnant, obviously. The real reason these companies are considered high risk is a combination of the risk of fraud in online payments, the high volume of transactions, and sex negativity. But that’s the topic for another post on another day.)
So, yeah, despite being a driver for online payments back in the early days of the internet, adult content producers aren’t able to use most common payment processors or the ones that will take them tack on a bunch of fees to “mitigate” their “risk.” However, Lux Alptraum, who I will forever refer to as the Queen of Sex Tech, reports in Motherboard that at least one site is loosening the reigns just a little bit on adult content producers. Patreon, the site that helps artists support their work by setting up regular payments from fans, sent an email last week to announcing that Patreon artists who fit under the “adult content” label — formerly known as NSFW — will now be able to accept payments via the PayPal subsidiary Braintree.
One adult content creator, Rebekah Nazarian of Filly Films, wishes that this topic wasn’t even one we found necessary to talk about.
“If only Paetron letting adult content creators use Braintree/Paypal for payments was a norm from the jump,” Nazarian tells MiKandi. “But, alas, I am definitely happy that these payment systems and platforms are getting together to allow adult content creators to make adults happy in an easy way. So many people trust these payment systems and have their information stored, it’ll make everyone’s lives easier. It’s annoying not being able to trust a payment system with full confidence, and hopefully this will help change that for people.”
“They’ll be helping us, we’ll be helping them, it just seems so simple and obvious,” she continues. “I think porn is finally coming in style as something most of us are a part of in one way or another, or that bashing and excluding an industry that has managed to survive the era of free content on the internet is going out of style.”
But before you get too excited, smut-makers, Alptraum cautions that this is just a baby step toward PayPal becoming a more open platform — and that it’s very possible that it’s the only step we’ll ever see them take. In fact, Patreon itself is super clear that this move is really a special one, just for them.
“After many long discussions we were able to convince PayPal, or more specifically their subsidiary Braintree, that Adult Content creators on Patreon are not a serious risk,” the Patreon email, posted on reddit, says. “Our content policy, and the nature of subscription payments, means that Adult Content creators on Patreon are less risky than most creators making adult content. We also have a very diverse mix of content types, so even if our Adult Content creators are higher risk than other types of creators, Patreon as a whole is less risky.”
Basically what it boils down to is that age-old, perpetually unclear, difference between “art” and “pornography.” Because Patreon is a platform for artists, they’ve been able to convince PayPal/Braintree that their kind of smut is the right kind of smut. And while I’m glad that more adult content creators will be able to get paid for their work more easily, this art versus porn debate is a tiresome distinction, mainly because people’s interpretations and opinions about what’s art and what’s “obscene” vary so widely. (Please see every single Greek and Roman statute that’s missing its penis in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for reference.)
So, yes, let’s celebrate this sex positive step. But let’s also make sure we keep on these payment processors to stop discriminating against adult content creators and, as Alptraum says so eloquently, “leave those arguments over what’s art and what’s porn to stoned philosophy majors and art students while the rest of us just revel in an abundance of indie smut put together by people being fairly compensated for their work.”
Images: Dom Jamieson/Flickr