Phoenix Forum Kicks Off With Billing Panel

Gretchen Gallen
PHOENIX, AZ – After a long night of webmaster parties and late night cavorting on the palatial grounds of La Posada Resort, webmaster attendees hunkered down to hear advice on what matters most: their bottom line and how to keep it safe from chargebacks.

Moderated by Randall Crocket of DRM Networks, the billing panel was well represented by leading figures in the billing space, including Chris Mallick of Epoch/Paycom, Jeff Neis of CCBill, Holly Moss of Goodthinxx, and Mitch Farber of Net Billing.

The panel got right down to reviewing some of the billing opportunities out there, how to stay in good standing with Visa, and new regulations that are affecting the way webmasters sell online adult content.

With nearly 60 percent of all online transactions being handled by Visa, love or hate them, the panel agreed, it is critical to stay in the game with Visa as long as possible.

Without the backing of Visa, it is still possible to maintain a healthy business model, but not being able to process through Visa is a definite problem, Chris Mallick pointed out to the audience.

“You’ve got to have Visa,” said Jeff Neis. “If you’re just starting out, it’s important to explore as many payment options as possible, like dialers and 900 number, but Visa is critical.”

Tips for keeping in good standing with Visa, the panelists agreed, was all about providing excellent customer service, and most of all, selling what you say you’re selling.

“Don’t fool the consumer, that will only lead to chargebacks,” said Mallick. “Do what you say you’re going to do.”

Mallick and many other third party billing systems try many tactics when it comes to maintaining Visa’s strict chargeback ratio and avoiding fraudulent transactions, among them a technique called ‘scrubbing’ in which consumers who are chronically delinquent are red-flagged and blocked via negative databases.

Holly Moss and her company Goodthinxx are exploring a new alternative billing method called biometrics for verifying online check transactions, which uses a voice or keyboard stroke to verify that the user is infact who they claim to be. Moss added that biometrics is still in the testing phase.

Mitch Farber stressed the undeniably important issue of providing consumers with a reliable form of customer service for both technical and billing problems that can arise within any given 24-hour period among international and domestic clients.

“Chargebacks occur when customer care is ignored,” said Farber. “You need to take care of emails immediately and be proactive with members.”

Farber also stressed that adult webmasters need to make it easier for customers to cancel their memberships.

“If you make it difficult, they will call their bank right away,” Farber said. “Being user friendly can help you avoid fraud.”

Other issues the panel touched on were some of the more high-risk areas of the industry and how Visa perceives certain content, a determination that is changing day-by-day in more subtler ways, but still maintains a steady code of regulations when it comes to certain types of hardcore and illegal porn.

“If it includes bestiality or child porn, there’s going to be problem,” said Moss.

“There are many borderline issues,” said Neis. “If you are providing content that includes 18-year old models, but then you market it as ‘young, young girls’ there is going to be a crackdown of some sort.”

Mallick added: “A general rule is stick to consensual adult sex and you won’t have a problem with Visa.” He also warned webmasters to stay away from anything that has to do with celebrity content, which is most likely to bring down a landslide of costly litigation. “Very dangerous,” he cautioned.

Mallick also said that online pharmacies are lately seeing the wrath of major credit card companies too, and that as of Thursday of last week, MasterCard said that it would deny processing those transactions entirely.

“Anything you could be involved in that might lead to something being illegal is pushing the boundaries,” said Mallick.”

Additionally, the panelists cautioned webmasters to be as fully informed of international laws as possible when it comes to processing transactions that involve shipping products to regions where that content is illegal.

“You need to be aware of the laws,” said Farber. “You must do research.”

Farber urged any webmasters in the room who were engaged in that type of commerce to spend their money on a good lawyer, rather than getting sued by the U.S. Justice Department.

“ Spend the money now rather than using it to bail yourself out.”