Five Processing Concerns

Holly Moss
Online merchants in the adult industry have many more processing options than they had just a few years ago. In the beginning — throughout the middle and late 1990s — there were few choices. Alternate billing options were difficult to find, and those that did exist came with enormous integration issues and more downside than up.

Thankfully, things have changed since the e-commerce revolution began. Merchant processing options now abound and comprehensive monetization strategies can be adopted to accommodate a global customer base.

Since new payment processing alternatives are hitting the marketplace on an almost daily basis, today's online adult businesses must constantly keep one ear to the ground. Choosing the right processor can add hundreds and thousands of dollars to your bottom line, but choosing the wrong one can cost you dearly.

Do the Math
Often new processors try to make a splash by luring merchants with low introductory rates. Don't be misled. Read the fine print. Low rates are certainly great, but if they're accompanied by hidden processing charges, you may be losing money – in both the long and short run.

Check for Referrals
Don't just take their word for it. This is a fast-paced, constantly changing industry with new businesses forming and disbanding all the time. Some are brilliant, some are doomed to failure — even if they have a big booth at Internext, even if they leave compelling posts on your favorite webmaster board. Before deciding on a billing partner, ask several companies what they've heard. It could save you a ton of time and money.

Is Your Business Model Their Strong Suit?
This is especially true for industry entrepreneurs. The best processor for a colleague's business might be the worst one for yours, so analyze everything. For example, a company specializing in video-on-demand or live video chat will not have the same processing needs as a paysite owner. Look to companies with business models similar to your own for answers to important processing questions.

How Does Support Match Up?
It's Christmas Eve, and your join page is down. When you call your processor, will you get a quick fix or voicemail? Don't sacrifice your business to save a few dollars. If push comes to shove, pay a little extra for a processor with 24/7 live customer support. Do they issue trouble tickets? Do they have a dedicated person on staff to handle merchant issues? If they don't, beware, especially if they're located outside the U.S.

And Finally... Ask Questions
Ask lots of them! Ask everybody! The vast majority of people in this industry are extremely generous with their knowledge. Take advantage of it, and put it to work for you.

Holly Moss is owner of her own consulting firm, HMoss Consulting, which provides integrated processing solutions for unique business models and clientele. She can be reached at