Pornhub vs PayPal: Why Thousands of Amateur Performers Are Upset

Have you been affected by PayPal’s decision to shut off payments from Pornhub?

The popular payment processing platform, PayPal, announced in November that it would no longer be supporting transactions for Pornhub’s Model Program. The decision has potentially left over 100,000 people without easy access to their online earnings. The sex industry is already discriminated against by most other payment apps, banks and financial institutions and this latest move continues to perpetuate the stigmatization of what is a legitimate career for many.

In this feature we look at the latest news from PayPal as it prohibits its platform being used to process payments for the adult industry. We’ll also look at what alternatives are in place for getting paid online if you are working in the sex industry.

PayPal and the Adult Industry

PayPal has never been backwards in coming forwards when it comes to where it stands on its platform being used to process payments associated with the adult industry. Its terms and conditions specifically prohibit the transaction of money for goods and services that are ‘sexually orientated’.

With the exception of physical goods like DVDs and magazines and toys for U.S. account holders only, PayPal’s policy on sexually orientated goods and services is clear:

PayPal prohibits all account holders from buying or selling sexually oriented digital goods, including downloadable pictures or videos, subscriptions to websites, or other content delivered through a digital medium.

paypal vs pornhub
Used by 286 million people worldwide, PayPal is the #1 online payment processor in the world. Image via PxHere.

The payment processing giants have a long history of being anti-adult work and do not allow their platform to be used by plenty of businesses and individuals involved in the industry. This extends to cam models and adult websites as well as some sex toy retailers and premium porn producers.

It should therefore come as no surprise that PayPal has taken steps to withdraw its services from the porn giants, Pornhub. However, the decision made at the beginning of November 2019 is likely to affect over 100,000 models who use PayPal as a primary way to withdraw their earnings on the popular tube hosting site.

The decision was made on 14th November with PayPal releasing a statement claiming that they had ‘discovered that Pornhub has made certain business payments through PayPal without seeking our permission.’

Pornhub’s Model Program: The Fallout

Pornhub’s model program is a way for amateurs to make money from the sales of their digital content including:

  • Video Sales
  • Custom Videos
  • Live Cams
  • Fan Club Subscriptions

Models can make money through tipping as well as ad revenue and contest prizes and referrals. The whole program attracts thousands of women, men and couples who want to make money from their adult content.

pornhub amateur model program no paypal payments
Pornhub’s Model Program is used by hundreds of thousands of amateurs. Image via Pornhub.

Until the announcement that PayPal had withdrawn its services for the program, models could opt to withdraw their earnings using the popular processing platform.

So, without PayPal, what options do the 100,000+ models have when it comes to getting paid?

Pornhub responded immediately to the fallout with a statement to say:

“We are all devastated by PayPal’s decision to stop payouts to over a hundred thousand performers who rely on them for their livelihoods.”

Their blog then goes on to direct their models on how to set-up alternative methods for getting paid. This includes direct deposit but this option is only available to 36 countries; a full list can be found here.

Models can opt for checks which cannot be tracked and do take longer both to be issued but also to be received and for funds to be cleared. We should point out that checks do not carry the Pornhub logo nor mention ‘adult entertainment’

Pornhub also makes payment via the e-wallet service, Paxum but this does incur withdrawal fees.

Lastly, models can also receive payment via Verge cryptocurrency.

Pornhub concludes by saying:

“We sincerely apologize if this causes any delays and we will have staff working around the clock to make sure all payouts are processed as fast as possible on the new payment methods.”

The Future of Payment Processing in the Adult Industry

In an era following the Obama administration’s clampdown on the dealings of financial institutions with high risk businesses for fraud and money laundering, there has been a growing number of companies that have shut their doors on payment processing for the adult industry.

The Operation Chokepoint initiative (2013) opened investigations into Ponzi schemes, drug and firearms dealing but also extended into prostitution, escorting and porn businesses.

pornhub vs paypal dirty money
Operation Chokepoint was designed to investigate dirty money but has been used as an excuse to bolster anti-porn policies. Image via Pixabay.

However, the adult industry extends to many millions of people worldwide who provide legal businesses and services. These individuals and companies rely on payment processing apps and services for their livelihood.

Yet the majority of mainstream services like Visa, Venmo and Google Wallet all prohibit users from transacting business on their platforms for ‘sex-orientated’ goods and services. They join an already long list of major financial institutions which include Capital One, Citi Bank, Square, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase that also ‘decline’ to process money related to sex work.

All of these institutes and companies very much outline their own policies for what passes for ‘sex-orientated’ goods and services and this varies by organisation.  JP Morgan Chase, for instance, are known to make personal judgement calls on what it believes to be ‘socially acceptable’, thereby placing themselves in a position of moral superiority.

The problem is that many businesses and individuals can find themselves on the wrong side of the terms and conditions of their payment processing provider whilst others may not.  And, importantly, it raises the question of just why PayPal or JP Morgan Chase think they are in a position to judge whether a sex toy is acceptable whilst a sex video is ‘morally offensive’?

paypal vs pornhub payments
Who made Paypal the guardians of ‘social ethics’ and morality? Image via Pixabay.

PayPal currently use a series of factors to determine whether goods are permitted to be paid for using its platform. This includes:

  • Whether the description or depiction of sexual conduct is patently offensive.
  • Whether the material itself or website from which is sold has an overtly sexual theme.
  • Literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
  • Impact on the safety and protection of PayPal’s customers.
  • Potential medicinal or educational uses.

In our opinion, this wholesale stance of prohibition is a damaging one and effectively labels the industry as one that is not legitimate. It isolates those people who work within it and passes the power of judgement to financial institutes who, as previous experience has shown, are far from being ‘blemish-free’ on the ethical front themselves.

Whilst the motivating force behind many of the decisions by companies like PayPal to decline to offer their services to the adult industry may be a good one, the result has been widespread discrimination.

Denying adult industry workers the right to transact their business in the same way as other people sets a very dangerous precedent; one that effectively establishes a hierarchy of morality in which sex work is outlawed. The last time we checked, pornography in the United States (and many other international countries) is perfectly legal. Yet PayPal (and all the other companies who have adopted this same stance) have decided that porn and associated aspects of the adult industry are ‘unacceptable’ ways to earn money.

Whilst the situation is an abhorrent one for democracy and freedom, there is little evidence to suggest that their minds will be turned.

paypal vs pornhub cryptocurrency the answer
Surely cryptocurrency isn’t the only answer? Image via Pixabay.

What is obvious is that the adult industry is in dire need of a payment processing platform that is sex-worker friendly. One that doesn’t solely rely on cryptocurrency and that offers easy and fast access to money that has been legitimately earned. Whilst no-one in the industry expects this to happen for free, it would be nice to think that this could be provided at a low cost with minimal fees.

After all, the adult industry is a huge one with millions of people transacting billions of dollars. With this in mind, surely the stage is set for a viable alternative to PayPal. And, if they call it PlayPal, you heard it here first.