As internet-based businesses offer efficient and convenient new ways of handling an increasing number of everyday tasks, it should come as no surprise that online dating websites have become more and more popular in the past several years. With so many people relocating for work or school to large cities where they have no social network, internet dating sites provide them with a means of reaching out to receptive and compatible peers. The proliferation of dating sites allows potential customers to choose from one of the “big names” or numerous smaller sites that cater to singles with specific interests. Some sites are designed for singles seeking partners who share their religious or ethnic background, while others invite potential matches to bond over mutually-cherished hobbies and passions. Uniting factors like these are an excellent tool to help customers pare down the dating pool and better find their special someone, which is why successful new dating sites are springing up every day.
However, it’s not all chocolate and roses for the owners of online dating companies. Any successful business needs to bring in money, which means it needs a method for accepting payment from customers. For businesses based primarily on the internet, this generally requires a credit card processing merchant account. But in spite of the profitable nature of online dating websites, most banks will turn away a business owner looking to open a merchant account for a dating site. This decision is solely financially-motivated; due to the nature of the industry, online dating businesses are at a higher risk of chargebacks and fraudulent activity by customers than the average merchant. Along with several other widely varied industries – including travel, collectibles, debt repair, and gambling – dating sites are labeled “high risk” and therefore undesirable by many major financial institutions. It has nothing to do with the reliability or trustworthiness of the individual business owner; for the bank, it all comes down to statistics, and they prefer to play it safe.
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Fortunately, not all payment processing companies are quite so skittish. Some companies specialize in catering to the needs of merchants in industries deemed “high risk,” and accept the reality of slightly more frequent chargebacks associated with those fields. Naturally the accounts offered to high risk merchants will look a little different from more traditional accounts; these accounts may require a cash reserve to be maintained to cover the cost of potential chargebacks, and the rates are generally a bit higher than those on lower-risk accounts. Still, these drawbacks are more than offset by the fact that you’re dealing with a payment processor that understands the nature of your business and won’t hold the unpredictable behavior of your customers against you.
Not all high risk merchant account providers are created equal. Consider the specific needs of your business, and look for a provider that meets those needs. If your dating site has an international customer base, you’ll need to be able to process multiple currencies. Some providers offer internet marketing tools to help you reach out to potential clients. And of course, readily available and helpful customer support is vital for keeping a minor snag from turning into a profit-impacting disaster. Your needs are as unique as your business, so don’t be afraid to ask questions when approaching a payment card processing provider about a high risk merchant account. At the end of the day, it may be a little more challenging to obtain a merchant account for your online dating website than for some other businesses, but accepting credit and debit payments from your clients is vital in today’s world.