Mastercard Is Imposing Stricter Regulations for the Adult Industry: Sex Workers Are Affected


There is no denying that the adult industry remains controversial to this day, even if people have already come to accept it. Being in adult entertainment and tagged as a high-risk merchant means there are more regulations to follow than the average business, especially when it comes to payment processing. Aside from applying for adult merchant accounts, those working in the adult industry also need to follow stricter measures for their activities.

In April 2021, Mastercard, one of the largest card networks in the world, announced that it will impose stricter regulations in processing payments for sellers of adult content.

These “specialty merchant” regulations took effect on October 15 and now require those working in the adult industry, including sex workers, to follow stricter requirements when processing payments for their trade.

The card network explained: “The banks that connect merchants to our network will need to certify that the seller of adult content has effective controls in place to monitor, block, and, where necessary, take down all illegal content.”

Mastercard’s main reason for this change is the fact that content has been easier to upload on the internet and it states that the primary goal for these new requirements will be to protect customers and the network itself from being involved in any anonymous content.

What this means for sex workers is that they need to provide “clear, unambiguous and documented consent” agreeing to be published in any adult content.

Mastercard will only approve a business transaction with a content creator in the adult industry if everyone involved in the content, especially the sex workers, provides documentation that they consent to be part of the content, to have it distributed, and to have it available for downloading online.

The card network also requires all content to be reviewed before it can be published and for merchants to provide Mastercard with moderation reports every month. What this means for sex workers is that they will need to do more work than just appear in adult content. But it also protects them from being exploited in their job. Aside from these requirements, Mastercard also mandates banks to require their merchants in the adult industry to create an appeals process system. It is where anyone who has been in the adult content can request for their photos or videos to be removed if they didn’t consent to it being published online.

The Future of Adult Content Payment Processing

This isn’t the first time major card networks have imposed stricter measures on the adult industry.

In December 2020, Visa, Discover, and Mastercard announced that they will no longer allow their credit cards to be used on Pornhub after they assessed that the website uncovered unlawful content, especially after claims about sex trafficking were published in an opinion piece in The New York Times.

As the adult entertainment industry continues to evolve, there’s also a need to be aware of these regulations to make sure that you avoid anything that could keep your business from operating smoothly. Finding the right high-risk merchant account providers is crucial in this process

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