The Silent Tech Pioneers | Online Payment Services for the Adult Trade

Sorin Despot

by Sorin Despot

There is this viciously eloquent quote freely roaming the web that pretty much sums it up: "If they took porn off the internet, there would only be one website left, and it’d be called bring back porn dot com."

I suspect that the true source of the quote is forever lost in the annals of internet wisdom, but I’ve traced a version of it back to this Scrubs scene:

Charmingly hilarious as it may be, this Perry Cox quote is decidedly insightful. Adult entertainment is a dominant force on the world wide web and, at least in the foreseeable times to come, it is surely here to stay.

Adult entertainment is one of the most, if not the most prolific content generator online. Its constant expansion and commitment to diversity makes adult entertainment reliant on technological innovation, including financial technology innovation. That is why digital tech innovation is the most important competitive advantage in the adult entertainment industry today.

Two Innovations Rooted in the Adult Entertainment Industry

A quick Google search away lies a myriad of articles documenting the incredible number of innovations either generated or made popular by the adult industry. Examples range from the global proliferation of the Gutenberg printing press and the standardization of the eight-millimeter film to innovations made in IT subfields such as file compression and content delivery networks (CDNs).

I’ve selected a couple of monumental adult-related breakthroughs that are part of our culture, but will sadly not see the inside of history books anytime soon:

1. Home Video Entertainment

Home technology owes a lot to the adult trade, but VHS holds a special place in our hearts. It is one of the few technologies that paved the way for how we interact with technology today. The videotape cassette was the a-ha moment of the second part of the twentieth century, because it democratized the creation and consumption of video content.

However, the technology saw little to no corporate backing in the early days, mainly because of the objections brought to congress by the Motion Picture Association of America in the 1970s. They called it the “Boston Strangler of the movie industry” and they did their best to ban VHS forever.


So, what saved VHS? You’ve guessed it: adult entertainment. Well into the 80s, pornography accounted for more than half of global videotape sales, thus keeping the tech alive until prices dropped at a generally affordable level. The same mechanism applied to the more recent and - to our young readers - the more familiar DVD, the proliferation of which is also largely attributable to the adult entertainment industry.

2. Real-Time Online Payment Services

You will find articles and studies out there arguing that the Internet itself would be nowhere near what it is today if it weren’t for the adult trade, and their arguments are more compelling than you might think. Most internet technology breakthroughs can be traced back to the adult entertainment industry.

It should come as no surprise that instant online payment solutions have also been first implemented for the consumption of good-old adult content. More precisely, we have the adult trade to thank for real-time credit-card verification services.


In the early 90s, Richard J. Gordon founded Electronic Card Systems, a company which pioneered electronic transactions for a wide range of X-rated entertainment businesses. The payment system made it possible to verify cards in seconds, as opposed to days, which was the case prior to Gordon’s innovative solution. Consequently, we have the adult trade to thank for the invention and proliferation of a technology that triggered the emergence of an entire industry sector: ecommerce.

Payment Services for the Adult Entertainment Industry

If you’re in the business of adult entertainment, your ability to process payments quickly, reliably, and safely is as crucial to your success as it was two decades ago. Moreover, the adult trade is under the increasing scrutiny of state legislators, and the industry is still notoriously plagued by frequent account cancelations, high chargeback ratios, fraud attempts, and legally-disputed charges. This is why all online adult entertainment businesses are labeled as high-risk merchants.

In this business environment, it is challenging to find a reliable payment solution, since most acquiring banks don’t accept adult-trade merchants, and those who do aren’t truly interested in understanding and meeting the industry’s specific requirements and, perhaps most importantly, its aspirations.


When running a high-risk business, consider maintaining an open relationship with a payment service provider that explicitly addresses high-risk merchants. Twispay will help you identify potential threats, monitor suspicious transactions, fight excessive chargebacks, and manage your risk on a daily basis.

We are as eager to innovate as you are, so this just might be the beginning of that modern-day VHS story.

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Sorin Despot Sorin Despot