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Online and In Love: How Online Dating Merchants Risk Heartbreak

Industry-leading wedding brand The Knot recently found that nearly 20% of brides met their future spouses online in 2017. This was compared to meeting through friends (17%), college (15%), and work (12%).

With the prevalence of social media, singles are much more likely to turn to online spaces to build meaningful relationships. According to IBISWorld, online dating has grown by over 11% in the past five years to become a $3 billion industry in the US. Clearly, business is booming and many merchants are jumping on this popular trend.

But before you “swipe right” to online dating, consider how your choice of industry can affect the process of acquiring a stable merchant account.

Online dating industry risks

Love may be a gamble, but the online dating industry comes with a lot of risks, and not the fun kind. Unfaithful customers and high rates of fraud often lead to suspicious processors and the heartbreak of sudden account termination.

Unfaithful customers

Online dating business depends on the success of romantic relationships for customer satisfaction, which can be tricky at the best of times. When people search for lasting relationships online, most of them believe that the onus is on the dating merchant to deliver their ideal match.

If the attempt doesn’t work or the relationship doesn’t last, who is more likely to get the blame? The online dating site. Even with terms and conditions stating that success is not guaranteed, customer dissatisfaction doesn’t bode well for business. Through no fault of your own, you might even find yourself dealing with claims of false advertising.

Other unfaithful customers use online dating services to search for extra romantic relationships and may turn on you when they get caught. In 2015, online dating service Ashley Madison was the target of a major hack that exposed thousands of users having extramarital affairs. By the end of 2017, the company had already had to pay over $11 million in settlements.

Unfaithful customers mean lots of chargebacks, a reputation-killer for online dating merchants.

High fraud rates

Online dating merchants are subject to multiple types of fraud, the most common being “friendly fraud”. Customers engage in this type of chargeback when they make legitimate purchases on card-not-present websites and then dispute the charges.

They may attempt to defraud you by contacting their issuing bank and claiming not to have made the purchase in the first place, even if they did.

Dissatisfied online daters may also initiate a chargeback as a refund if their paid membership is not as successful as they wished.

This can be a major headache, especially if you don’t find out about the chargebacks until too late. But fraudulent practices can be avoided by implementing extra steps, like requiring a signature agreeing to your site’s terms and conditions.

Suspicious processors and heartbreak for dating merchants

The high volume of chargebacks that come with changeable customers makes it difficult to open a traditional merchant account. The online dating industry’s risky reputation also leaves it on shaky ground for provider account applications.

Even third-party aggregators like Square or PayPal can be a big relationship mistake. At first glance, they may seem like the perfect match, with instant approval and low fees to make the attraction complete. But aggregators reserve the right to flag accounts months after the relationship has begun.

Stuck on a restricted list, your business may suddenly find itself heartbroken over a terminated merchant account or frozen funds thanks to a less-than-ideal match.

A happy ending for dating merchants

Thankfully, the story doesn’t have to end there. Your online dating business can thrive with the right partnerships, provided you do your research before committing.

Start by looking for payment processors that specialize in high-risk merchant accounts. You can even find a provider with a history of working with online dating merchants better equipped to handle industry-specific challenges. This will also help you avoid higher-than-usual processing rates for high-risk merchants.

An experienced online dating merchant account provider will meet your accounting and payment processing needs. They’ll also help you minimize risks in your business so you can qualify for lower rates. Most importantly, they can help you avoid the heartbreak of termination.



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Jared Ronski

Jared Ronski



Member since

11 May 2018



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Payments strategies 2015-2020-2030

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