Buckle up cos this is a long one…(#twss).
So as a porn consumer you may or may not be aware that any site which has credit card processing is strictly limited in the type of content it can sell. Every site which has credit card processing has to undergo a compliance review before it goes live, and is subject to periodic/random spot checks on an ongoing basis after that.
There’s a whole range of terms (and matching content) which you’re not even allowed to *mention* on a site. Terms like pissing, hypno, intox etc can get your merchant account suspended and you won’t be able to process payments anymore. Game over.
Even mentioning those terms in a blog or having them in tags (just like above) would already result in a stern email from the compliance department and would have to be removed immediately.
These terms are part of the VISA/Mastercard “BRAM Guidelines” (Business Risk Assessment and Mitigation) “guidelines”, but the actual contents of the list of terms are “secret”, and (apparently) somewhat open to interpretation (but not by you), which makes it quite difficult to comply, but never fear, your cc processing compliance department will be sure to let you know right away if they find anything they don’t like.
What’s interesting is that this list of terms has little to do with what’s actually *legal* by way of content, so there’s a whole bunch of content which may be perfectly *legal* to perform and sell in your jurisdiction, but is not allowed, basically because Visa says so. Cool eh?
So what are the rules? Well, we can’t tell you, but not like that. xD
What’s legal in your country or where the site is hosted doesn’t really matter – every site with credit card processing is subject to basically the same rules because Visa/MC said so and till recently they were the only game in town.
Some sites flout these rules or try to circumvent them with elaborate schemes but you’ll notice they don’t tend to last long, or they’re constantly having to change merchant account as they fail compliance and have their payment privileges removed, and end up having to go elsewhere.
There’s some very diligent sexworkers & advocates who have put together a list of what’s allowed on each site – you’ll see there’s some variety but ultimately most of the limits are pretty similar: https://twitter.com/sophie_ladder/status/1500890681706827776
Also, a few years ago payment processors started introducing additional “high risk fees” (as well as the higher “commission” rates) which means site operators have to pay $500 (or more) per year for Visa processing and $500 (or more) per year for Mastercard processing (these prices are from CCbill, may be more on other providers). You can run many sites on one merchant account and you only have to pay the processing fees once per merchant account, not for each site, so if you run half a dozen sites it’s a lot more cost-effective than if you only run one. This also means it can be worth getting together with a couple of other people and running all your sites off the same merchant account, which lets you split the cost of the Visa/MC payments, but that requires quite a lot of trust because if one of the sites starts flouting the rules it could get you all shut down, so choose your friends carefully.
For a small site just starting out that’s quite an outlay, especially when you factor in having to have the site built, figure out hosting, domains etc too as well as yearly subscriptions for any plugins you’re using – like the many very good, but expensive woocommerce plugins like “woocommerce members“, and the completely awful, barely functional “Magic Members” plugin (who i will not link to because fuck those guys). These plugins can be several hundred dollars to buy, or $150/year or more anually and you may need several of them, as well as plugins to link to Amazon S3 etc if that’s something you use.
As an independent sexworker you would likely be looking at several thousand dollars just to get a site up and running, as well as maybe $1000+ *per year* to keep it running. That’s quite a lot of overhead and unsurprisingly this means SWers tend to rely on clips sites, which again centralises control to larger corporations, who usually take 30-60% of a model’s revenue and also strictly control what they can sell. So for example Adultwork takes a fairly reasonable 30% but has quite a high payout threshold, onlyfans is more like 20% and has quite a low payout threshold (but seem to regularly get hacked), and streamate takes a whopping 60% (!!!) and also has quite a high payout threshold ($100 iirc).
When you factor in the exchange rate – if you’re a camgirl in the uk, sites like streamate are barely viable unless you’re charging upwards of $6-10/min or can regularly manage to have several *paying* customers in your cam room at once. Bear in mind when you have a paying customer in the room generally they want all the attention so maintaining several in a room is quite difficult unless it’s a “shut the fuck up and watch” type show. My stuff tended to always work best as one-on-one so having multiple paying viewers at once wasn’t really an option, soi I had to go for higher rates, but people don’t really like that either.
So when you tip your favourite camgirl $20 on streamate, she’ll only get at best $8 of it, and even that only once she’s met the payout threshold which can be as high as $100 (this varies from site to site). So actually you’re not tipping her, as much as you’re tipping the payment company and website operators, who (spoiler) don’t give a shit about you and also won’t show your their boobs ;).
Camgirls, camboys and cam-thembies are acutely aware of these commission rates and payout thresholds so if you’re genuinely wanting to do a nice thing for your favourite performer, *ask them* how/where they’d like to be tipped before you do.. since tipping on a site like streamate is a nice notion but they’re not going to really get much benefit from it. So you think you’ve done a nice thing but they’re barely going to see any benefit, which may explain why you maybe only got a luke-warm response vs what you were expecting. Visa/MC and the site operator says cheers though 😉
Typically the actual credit card processing itself (based on CCbill) costs about 22% plus around 5% extra is witheld for 6 months to cover chargebacks (figures based on CCbill who are one of the best ime) , so even if you’re processing payments on your own site, the most you can get is about 83-85% with a clearing time of 2 weeks for most of it, and the last 5% coming in after 6 mo. This high cut is because of adult sites are considered “high risk”. Non-adult sites get processing much cheaper – like 3% (e.g. on Square). Not forgettign this 22-25% cut is ON TOP of the $500/year for Visa processing and $500/year for MC.
Every time someone gets rumbled by their wife for spending money on porn sites and tries to claim it was a mistake, that they “must have got hacked” and initiates a chargeback, they’re directly contributing to making this situation worse for adult content providers, so yeah, thanks for that 😛
This all seems kinda scammy don’t you think? Not just for us providers, but for you too – why does a credit card company get to decide that the perfectly legal content/kink you enjoy is not allowed anymore? That’s pretty fucked up imho.
You’ll notice that these restrictions have been getting tighter too recently, so every year there’s more and more fringe kinks being excluded completely. The sites shut down or go underground and you as a consumer are shit outta luck.
On adultwork even mentioning intox will get your profile suspended. Clips4sale no longer allows mention of stuff like breathplay or choking/smothering. Forced feminisation, “forced bi”, anything which even suggests coercion or any whiff of coinsensual non-consent – gone. Same goes for even mentioning hypno (e.g. on onlyfans) and many places have also banned findom altogether.
And does this actually make the kinks go away? of course not, so the whole thing is a charade. No, meanwhile the police are killing (mostly black/brown) people with impunity and Disney employees are getting busted as people traffickers. It’s almost as if the people shouting about sexwork being bad are actually the problem, not sexwork/workers themselves. hmm…
What we could really do with is some sort of settlement/payment network which is independent of the powers that be, right? Somewhere you can buy some sort of universal “token” or thing which you can then spend anywhere you like – a bit like cash – rather than having Visa/MC decide what you can and can’t get off to.
Thankfully this system already exists – it’s called BItcoin (BTC).
What makes Bitcoin special, and separates it from the many other cryptocurrencies and tokens available is that it’s not owned by anyone. It was the first of its type and because of that was a unique position which can’t really be recreated, and apparently the creators were smart enough and humble enough to realise that whoever ‘owned’ this thing would be subject to something along the lines of a “$5 wrench attack” – i.e. if a cryptocurrency has a CEO, a foundation or someone obviously in charge.. then that’s someone that the 3-letter agencies, governments etc can show up at their door with guns or threat of imprisonment and get them to change it or add code which complies with what they want.
Conversely Bitcoin has no owner, it’s really just a standard that’s agreed upon buy a bunch of ~150+ developers from around the world, some of whom remain anonymous – so even if an agency was to show up at one or more of those developers houses and “persuade” them to insert some backdoor code or whatever, when that developer submitted the code, the other devs would be like “er nice try bro.. nope” and the code wouldn’t get added. Because there are so many developers, and especially since some remain anonymous, that makes it very difficult to mess with, especially now that it’s become such a large system.
There are many clones and alternate versions of bitcoin (aka “shitcoins”) like Bitcoin cash (which then split and became bitcoin ABC and the even worse and ever controversial “Bitcoin SV” – both of which are poorly thought out, scammy af and entirely centralised bullshit – in the sense that they only have a few developers so would be/are easy to compromise, have very few and not-diverse miners, and in the case of BSV – a founder/creator who is regarded by many as an outright fraud and has been at the centre of a number of controversies and scammy activities.
Many of these shitcoins also include a sort of “stupidity tax” either by way of that the founders/devs secretly “premine” a bunch of coins before it’s released (meaning that if it becomes popular they become rich), or things like Zcash and Dash which have a “founders fee” so a certain percentage (which can be as much as 20%) of all mining goes back to feed the corporation which controls it. Nice and fair, huh?
There’a couple of “altcoins” which are interesting and less scammy. – e.g. Litecoin/LTC which (as far as I’m aware) had a fair issuance with no premine. It has a foundation but they seem to be mostly kinda independent of the developers and the founder (Charlie Lee aka “Satoshi lite”) removed himself from the project a few years back so as (supposedly) not to influence it (and the price) unfairly every time he shitposted on twitter. Litecoin’s main practical purpose seems to be as a testbed for new ideas which then later get implemented on bitcoin (e.g. Taproot, Schnorr signatures), and from my own personal experience it’s quite useful sometimes because the block times are quicker than BTC (2.5 mins rather than 10 mins) and the fees are generally much lower… which means payments confirm quicker and cost less, but there’s less software support so it’s a bit more tricky to implement.
So sometimes when the Bitcoin network is congested and fees go up (e.g. when there’s a spam attack or some major event), it’s easier and quicker to use Litecoin to transact, but I’m not about to put my retirement fund (lol!) in it. Anywhere you can buy bitcoin you can also normally buy LTC and the wallets work the same as with Bitcoin so if you can work one you can work the other. It’s not terrible.
Monero/XMR is also quite interesting – (afaik) also had a fair issuance and has privacy by default (which neither Bitcoin nor Litecoin have). Some other coins claim some level of privacy but it’s usually pretty weak and opt-in rather than by-default, which kinda defeats the purpose somewhat. Monero is very private in comparison and as anyone who has researched Darknet market activity knows, it has kinda become the standard on there, even in favour of Bitcoin which is only “pseudononymous” as it uses a public ledger (so all bitcoin transactions are public). Hence XMR has also found itself somewhat “banned” (or rather its use discouraged as you can’t really ban it) in some countries (e.g. japan) and on certain exchanges. It’s a bit more tricky to use than Bitcoin/Litecoin and as a developer there’s less support and the way the addresses/wallets work is a little different from bitcoin but it actually works pretty well and is also constantly being improved.
If you are looking for a wallet which can handle all 3 conveniently – Cake wallet lets you store BTC, LTC and XMR and also lets you convert between them anonymously. There’s a mobile app and (i think) also a desktop app and in my experience it works pretty well. You can buy on coinbase (funds on exchange) and then move your funds to cakewallet (self-custody) and then you’re basically off the grid and free to transact with whomever you please.
What does all this have to do with porn?
Well, as you may or may not know I enjoy some quite unusual kinks and I love weird and wonderful kinks in others too, but even something as tame as watersports isn’t allowed on sites with credit card processing. And whilst WS isn’t really my thing personally, that doesn’t mean I’m not happy to indulge someone who requests a custom clip…but I wouldn’t be allowed to do so, or even talk about it, on this site if i had CC processing enabled.
In fact there’s quite a bit in this post (even though there’s no disallowed content) that would get my merchant account suspended if i was still using credit card processing services. Thankfully, I’m not 🙂
Since I ended up being “absent” for a while and ended up doing other work I wound up stepping away from making clips etc so having CC processing wasn’t really so important anyway and I let it lapse. Even now that I’m back, tbh I don’t really want someone telling me that I can’t make clips for my perfectly legal kink, or can’t even *talk* about it on my own damn site. Hell No.
Fuck That Shit!
So whilst I have resumed Domming services to some extent, part of not doing things the same as before is re-thinking the payments side of things, and that means ditching credit cards from the mix.
A couple of years ago I wrote a very simple Btcoin payment page for my site (which I made free and open source) – the reply-guys in my mentions on twitter told me it was dumb and I should use BTCpayserver – which, to be fair, is a truly excellent system but either has quite a high technical threshold since you need to run a “full node” as well as the server itself, or again requires a 3rd-party payment processor who runs the node and BTCPayserver install for you and who themselves has Terms and Conditions.
Whilst those T+Cs tend to be a lot more relaxed than any CC processing (e.g. the very useful BTCpayjungle), it’s still *another* 3rd party involved and another set of T+Cs, and I wanted my transactions to be JUST between me and the Bitcoin network. Unreasonable, maybe..but I don’t cliam to always be reasonable. So i wrote my payment page thing using only open-source tools and public APIs (which need no logins/API keys or identification) to check balances etc.
My payment page uses a fresh address for each payment which helps with privacy. I could have just put up a single address/QR code which would have been really easy to do, but then anyone who sent me a tribute to that address could be linked to anyone/everyone else who had sent to it, as well as to me, and do you really want to be linked to *everyone* else who’se sent me funds or to who I send funds on to? I don’t think so. Not reusing addresses prevents that, or at least makes drawing those connections much more difficult.
That little payment page worked so well that I was inspired to do more along these lines. I’d retrained my subs to use coinbase instead of paypal and since most of my Domming income comes from direct tributes from subs I already know (rather than random people I don’t know), the switch to Bitcoin was much easier than I’d thought it would be, and much easier than if I’d been relying on walk-in traffic.
Coinbase, whilst kinda evil and have been involved in a number of shady moves, are not really much worse than Paypal and the system basically works exactly the same way – you register a card with them, buy some BTC and send it to me. Easy peasy. If you can work Paypal, you can work CB. CB also sell Litcoin for the occasions when the BTC network is under heavy load or fees are high.
But just like Paypal, or your bank, CB perform a useful service but are not your friends. They may as well be seen as the feds, since they effectively are, and actually many of the monitoring activities seem to have originated from or have links to CB.
But unfortunately, like with Paypal or your bank, however evil they might be, there’s not that much choice in where to buy BTC…and hey, once your bitcoin is no longer on there, you’re free to transact with whomever you like for whatever you like (or at least I am, if you’ve sent it to me ;)).
You can buy Bitcoin in a bunch of places but they pretty much all have very invasive KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements, supposedly to prevent money laundering, even though most money laundering happens with the US dollar, not with cryptocurrencies.
Paypal have recently added the ability to buy bitcoin, but as far as I can tell you can only buy it to speculate on it, you can’t actually send it anywhere. So really all you’re buying is an IOU from paypal to say you own some bitcoin. You never actually own the bitcoin itself – so if paypal decide that they don’t like you anymore, your crypto holdings can be frozen indefinitely or taken from you just like your normal paypal account funds.
I believe Cashapp lets you buy BTC in the usa but not in the UK, and I *think* you may only be able to buy to speculate (but not send), like with paypal..(somebody please correct me if that’s wrong). Not super useful, hence so many people end up using Coinbase. Whilst it may be flawed/evil in many ways, for the most part getting signed up is pretty simple, you can use it on desktop or there’s a mobile app which isn’t terrible, and overall it works pretty well for what we want. We also all use banks and we know they’re blatantly evil too.
Further down the rabbithole
So then having found my little payment page workied so well I thought hey let’s see what else we can do with it. I’d been using Woocommerce for wordpress a while on other (non-adult) sites and found it to be excellent but despite the promise of various bitcoin/cryptocurrency plugins for it, I found they mostly just didn’t work, required signing up to yet another 3rd party service who would take a cut and have opinions about what I was selling, or just sucked in some other new and unforeseen way (or some combination of all 3). ugh!
So once again if you want something doing properly you gotta do it yourself, so I went back to the drawing board and built on what I’d learnt from my payment page. and wrote Woocommerce-gateway-bitcoin which as the name suggests, is a payment gateway for woocommerce, also doesn’t reuse addresses, also only uses public APIs to check balances and is really just a modified version of the “manual payment” checkout which is shipped with woocommerce by default and has some bitcoin stuff bolted onto it.
There is no registration and there are no 3rd parties trying to take a percentage or having opinions about what you sell, no terms+conditions, and is also very lightweight in that is doesn’t require a full node or signing up to a “full node” service/api to work. It also has a failover system in that whilst you can specific whether you’d prefer to use blockchain.info or blockstream.info’s public APIs, if one is down it will automatically switch over to the other, providing some redundancy in case of a failure/restriction from either provider. It does need a few specific php modules to be installed but most hosting places have them installed by default, and of course it’s also open-source and free.
The plugin uses HD (“Hierarchical Deterministic”) address generation which is a fancy way of saying there’s a special formula used along with an initial private key, and all subsequent addresses in that “wallet” are generated from that. If you use a wallet like electrum, that’s how it works and this checkout uses the same exact maths which means you can put a fragment of that key into the bitcoin checkout (your master *public* key aka “xpub”) and then the addresses the site generates will line up 100% with the addresses in your electrum (or similar HD) wallet.. so when someone pays in your shop, the payments magically land in your electrum (or whatever) wallet. Very cool maths shit and works really well in practice.
Since computing those addresses is quite cpu-intensive I and I found doing it on the fly slowed the payment page down to an unacceptable degree, addresses are pre-calculated in batches of 50 (or more, you can specify) and then just issued from a list which means the page doesn’t slow down. When an order is created in woocommerce, one of the addresses is popped off the list and attached to the order via “postmeta” and then that address is removed from the list so it won’t be used on other orders. Payment clears and *boop*, as if by magic Bitcoin appears in your wallet. Kerching!
Hence one order, one address, very simple to check whether it’s been paid or not. You can specify whether you want to accept 0-confirmation transactions and up to what value (e.g. below $10 you may find 0-conf is an acceptable risk). I don’t really recommend it but but you do you and what’s right for your shop & threat model.
You can set pricing to be “fiat-first” (i.e. your clip will always be $10 and it works out how much BTC that is at the moment of sale) or “BTC-first” (i.e. your clip will always be a fixed btc price like 0.00012 BTC and it works out how much $ that is at the time (for the user’s convenience).
You can then pair that with something like my woocommerce-membership-by-role plugin and create a membership site which uses BTC, completely for free – no need to buy plugins or pay annual subscriptions or anything of the sort \o/
By default, Woocommerce also has a bunch of extra name and address fields during checkout which as a porn site, you don’t really need for downloadable content, so I made yet another plugin woocommerce-remove address-fields which removes all but a name field (can be a nickname.. it’s just how the customer would like to be referred to in correspondence), email (so you can contact them in case of an issue with the order) and optional country code.
You can see these plugins in use on Stacysadistic.com (membership-based site) and Transgendence.com (individual clips site), both of which have both Bitcoin and CCbill checkouts (so have to adhere to the content guidelines). Femdomvideos.net is another clipsite which uses them, but has no CC processing so doesn’t have any content restrictions. The Bitcoin gateway for woocommerce and membership plugin is also used on MistressLovely.com.
The woocommerce-gateway-bitcoin plugins is built on top of the Bit-wasp php bitcoin library which does all the maths heavy-lifting and the plugins themselves are published under GNU public license V3 and are completely free with no nag messages and can be used in commercial sites without limitation other than that they cannot become part of closed-source software as specified by the license. So you can happily use them on a commercial site and make as much money with that as you like, but if you build on them and use them as part of a product, that must also be open-source – aka “copyleft”. There is no “premium version” this is The Only Version and it’s free. Tbh I’m not super au fait with the licensing side of it but that’s about the most aggressively anti-copyright license i could find and that’s how I understand it to work.
*Of course you can use these techniques and plugins on non-porn sites…there’s no mention of adult content etc and nothing which makes them exclusively useful to porn sites, but it’s what I built them for.
The future, custom “speciality” clips etc
As I’m looking to the future and how to structure things moving forward now that I’m back in (or on?) the game, all of this starts to be a bit more relevant. Being outside the traditional payment mechanisms means I can not just talk about things which would be otherwise banned, but also make content for/around them.
So that means stuff like Watersports/pissing, hypno & mental conditioning (getting quite into hypno lately and have always enjoyed mental conditioning), breathplay/choking/smothering, intox/forced intox, whipping, flogging, corporal punishment, needles, knives, blood, piercings, extreme bondage (love extreme bondage!), forced feminisation, medical/surgical, findom/financial domination/teamviewer/remote-control (love a bit of findom and it works SO will with Bitcoin), selling used panties/underwear, used footwear/stockings, humiliation, sissy etc…you name it.. as long as it’s legal to do there’s no reason I can’t consider making content of that type…and that’s a LOT of possibilities 🙂
So if you feel like you’ve been abandoned or edged out of your favourite clipsite or your favourite content creator can no longer make content to satisfy what you want – then perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere, like here 🙂
There’s some things I’m just not into – I don’t do hardsports (though I guess enough BTC may change that viewpoint haha), I don’t do ageplay/ABDL or raceplay because I just don’t feel comfortable doing them, and I won’t touch blackmail or forced-bi because from experience the nature of it means the folks involved in it tend to be quite unstable, and I don’t need that hassle. But otherwise as long as it’s legal and ultimately consensual (including CNC/consensual non-consent), pretty much anything goes – I’m open to suggestions.
I like interesting and unusual kinks and I’m not bound by BRAM guidelines, so as long as it’s legal, there’s a pretty good chance I’m down to clown. If you’ve got a special request, no matter how weird and whacky…just ask and the worst you’ll get is a “no sorry”.
I can accept pretty much any cryptocurrency, though obviously my preferred is Bitcoin, with Litecoin and Monero close behind – but I will happily help you unload your shitcoin bags just the same 🙂
You can send me a tribute with Bitcoin at any time using my payment page and having sent a tip/tribute (even just a small one) is a good way to start a conversation with any Domme. Alternatively if you don’t care about making a good impression you can just send an email.
You can buy bitcoin from coinbase.com and whilst I mostly only accept cryptocurrency, I can also accept *unrelated* tips on other platforms, but things will be around 20-30% more expensive depending on the platform, since I have to pay comissions on there, whereas I get to keep all the BTC i get sent, so I really have all but stopped using them. Also any amount you send will need to be enough for me to make payout otherwise the money is literally of no use (because I don’t really use the platforms).
If you’re a sexworker and thinking of setting up a site I am happy to talk to you (for free) about what bits and bobs you might need and how it might be best to structure things but if you want me to actually do it for you that will be paid work. Generally the earlier in the process we can talk the better as some steps need to be got right first time. I currently have some availabilty for (paid) development work, fixing broken/hacked wordpress sites etc. Most of my work is back-end, woocommerce and making plugins but I don’t mind a bit of front-end/design too now and then 🙂
FOR THE RECORD: I have been using CCbill for over 10 years and my experience with them has been nothing short of excellent. Their support have always been knowledgable and super-helpful and if you want a CC payment provider I really can’t fault them (unlike some others like Zombaio). What’s more, as a trans woman they were always respectful and referred to me by my preferred name/pronouns, even before my paperwork had caught up to match. Unfortunately CCbill are bound by the same BRAM guidelines and compliance stuff as all other CC providers so no matter how nice and competent they are, what they have to enforce by way of content limitations and what they require by way of KYC/AML identification is not really up to them, and is way more invasive than I’m comfortable with – but they just have to do what Visa/MC tell them to do, and that’s what I have issue with. I have chosen to remove CC processing from my sites to free myself from those constraints, not because I was unhappy with their service. I continue to help manage ccbill accounts for other people’s sites but I don’t appear on any of that paperwork anymore. As long as you’re happy with the content restrictions I would recommend CCBill without hesitation.