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Adult Merchant High-Risk Verification

A low-stress solution for high-risk merchants

Acquiring merchants deemed ‘high-risk’ by the card associations can be daunting. Following recent controversies and Mastercard rule changes, this goes double for adult content merchants. Web Shield helps acquirers who want to keep their existing portfolio compliant or are planning on entering this market.

Risk at a glance

High-Risk Verification delivers a full compliance review of any adult content merchant.

Use our experience

Our team of underwriters have more than a decade of experience in high-risk merchant acceptance to deliver high-quality analysis.

Step-by-step compliance

Four simple steps to adult content compliance

1. KYC and upload review

We verify the registration and content upload process for compliance e.g., by checking if a written agreement and age verification are required.

2. Policy analysis

Our team reviews all available policies on the website to ensure there is moderation, monitoring and a content removal process.

3. Content scan

Our tried-and-tested web crawler scans the website as well as any backlinks for known content violations according to card scheme rules.

4. Summary report

All findings are summarised in a PDF report, with clear indications for which areas are compliant - and which are not.

Download our guide

Master Mastercard rules for adult content merchants with our detailed free guide. Responsibly build your high-risk merchant portfolio.


Do you still have questions? Take a look at our FAQs for more information about our adult content merchant solution.

Why is acquiring adult merchants high-risk?

High sales volumes, traffic and user numbers make the adult sector attractive to fraudulent merchants. The sector also overtrades in ‘friendly fraud’ from cardholders. Affiliate marketing is key for customer acquisition but opens merchants to fraudulent affiliates attracted by high commissions.

What are the acceptance risks of acquiring adult merchants?

Acquirers face acceptance risks if their merchants sell copyright-infringing or age-restricted content. Or that prohibited by the card schemes, for example, material related to child abuse, bestiality and rape. This is in addition to the credit risks they face as a result of merchant, cardholder, affiliate or third-party fraud.

What is the position of the card schemes to adult merchants?

Card schemes don’t want to be associated with any illegal or brand-damaging activities. Mastercard and Visa have had high brand-risk programmes in place for over a decade. Those wishing to acquire adult merchants, must register with the schemes and prove they have adequate controls in place before acquiring such merchants.

What is the background to Mastercard’s revised standards for adult merchants?

Mastercard strengthened its existing Speciality Merchant Registration requirements for adult content merchants, effective 15 October 2021. Acquirers must register their remote adult content merchants with Mastercard before acquiring transactions, and certify that they have effective controls in place to monitor, block and, where necessary, take down all illegal content.

What are the main principles of Mastercard’s revised standards for adult merchants?

Acquirers must ensure that their adult merchants only permit uploads from verified content providers; verify the age and identity of all persons depicted in content; have written agreements with each content provider, and pre-screen content. Further rules stipulate how adult merchants market their content, administer complaints and take-down requests and report activity to their acquirers.

Stay on top of card scheme rules

Visa and Mastercard rules for adult content merchants are strict, and non-compliance is severly penalised. Let us help you stay compliant.