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Credit Card Processing for Dating Sites

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DigiWorld Partners had the opportunity recently to sit down with Conal Cunningham of InovioPay to discuss some of his insights regarding credit card processing. More specifically, the short session was dedicated to credit card processing for dating sites, which has become a booming industry now estimated to have annual revenues of about $2 billion in the U.S. According to Pew Research, online dating among 18- to 24-year olds has nearly tripled in the past three years and doubled among 55- to 64-year olds. This trend shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Credit card payments for dating sites, however, is considered risky business for many card issuers, which was a main topic during this interview.

Why Dating Sites Are Different

The reason dating sites are considered to be one of the most dangerous environments for credit card processing is because of the unusually high probability of chargebacks. If, for example, a legitimate charge is made on an individual’s credit card and this purchase is later discovered by that person’s significant other, he or she may dispute the charge and initiate a chargeback through their bank.

When this occurs, the dating site receives a black mark from their card processor, even though the site itself has no control over the situation, since the purchase made on the card was totally legitimate. This is why businesses utilizing credit card processing for dating sites should have the necessary risk mitigation services in place to protect themselves from the negative aspects associated with this industry. Failure to stay ahead of chargeback problems and bank disputes so prevalent in the online dating sector can result in revenue losses, increased transaction costs and even fines.

Charges Versus Fees

While the percentages that banks charge dating sites per transaction are typically in line with those for other online retailers, the real cost stemming from disputes turning into chargebacks is in the fees your bank will levy. Cunningham explains that in many cases these can be as high as $45 per incident. In addition, many banks set fraud thresholds of as low as 1% for dating sites. According to Conal, anything in excess of this 1% can carry fines starting at $100 per incident.

 

Keeping Outside of the Chargeback Channel

To get in front of these problematic chargeback issues, InovioPay works with networks that have good standing relationships with the big name banks that issue most of the credit cards used by dating site visitors. In the event of a dispute, rather than going to the bank whose name is on the credit card and initiating the chargeback process, it’s handled in the background without ever going through the card issuer. A refund is guaranteed to the customer and the entire matter is handled without incurring high fees or fines. This also keeps the incidence of fraud below the 1% threshold, thereby keeping the account in a healthy condition.

 

Friendly Chargebacks and Chargeback Mitigation

No matter how sophisticated your credit card processing for dating sites may be, there will always be people who try to beat the system by purchasing your service and then later going to their bank, complaining for some reason and demanding a refund. This is called “friendly fraud,” and there’s basically nothing you can do to prevent it. If, however, you maintain a friendly relationship with the merchant banks that issue credit cards, Cunningham states that it’s possible that those banks will simply issue a refund without any fanfare and without incurring any charges, fees or fines.

 

Communication With Customers

Good communication with your customers is another critical factor in keeping your relationship with your credit card processing company on a healthy footing. Conal explains the importance of the descriptor you include on customers’ bank statements. This message should provide them with an easy means for contacting your company, either by phone or on the website, if they have a questions, problems, or disputes. You want them to feel it’s easier to contact you than to contact their bank. This is why your customer service lines should be open and answered immediately. If someone goes to the website for assistance they should see a message that says: “Do you have a problem? Click here.” Communication should be quick, easy and responsive.

 

High-Risk/Low-Risk Classifications

Conal goes into options the credit card companies have in classifying businesses as either high- or low-risk. He explains that much depends on your payment relationship with the banks. This can affect the 1% fraud threshold when fines start being levied. While businesses classified high-risk may have a higher fraud threshold, the downside is that some banks may decline charges from a high-risk business.

Learn more about InovioPay and credit card processing for dating sites by watching the entire interview video. It’s important information for those in the dating site game.

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