Financial inclusion is a fundamental aspect of societal development, ensuring equal access to financial services for all individuals. Unfortunately, sex workers face significant challenges in achieving financial inclusion due to stigma, discrimination, and bias. 

In this blog post, we will explore the future of financial inclusion for sex workers that’s beyond Cash App, Venmo and Paypal bias and discuss how payment technology is playing a crucial role in breaking down barriers. We will also examine the impact of payment processor bias and provide actionable steps to fight financial discrimination.

I. Understanding Financial Inclusion and its Importance for Sex Workers

    • Financial inclusion refers to the availability and accessibility of financial services to all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic background or profession. It includes access to banking services, credit facilities, savings accounts, insurance, and other financial products. Financial inclusion plays an important role in empowering individuals by enabling them to manage their finances, invest, and plan for the future. For sex workers, financial inclusion is particularly important as it can help break the cycle of poverty and provide opportunities for economic stability and social upliftment.
    • Stigma and discrimination as barriers to access
      • Legal sex workers are subjected to stigma and discrimination due to the perceived nature of their profession. This societal bias often translates into financial exclusion, making it difficult for them to access mainstream financial services.
      • Many banks and payment processors have policies in place that specifically exclude sex workers, citing legal and moral concerns. This exclusion further perpetuates the marginalization and vulnerability of sex workers, denying them the basic financial tools and services they need to thrive.
    • Impact on housing, healthcare, and essential services
      • Financial exclusion has a profound impact on the overall well-being of sex workers. Without access to formal banking services, they face difficulties in securing housing or even renting properties.
      • Financial institutions often require bank statements or proof of income, which can be challenging for sex workers who are ‘forced’ to rely on cash transactions, thanks to systemic financial exclusion. Limited access to financial services directly impedes their ability to access healthcare and other essential services, leaving them more vulnerable to exploitation and health risks.
    • Recognizing the unique challenges faced by sex workers in achieving financial inclusion, there is an increasing need for tailored payment solutions that cater to their specific circumstances. These solutions should not only provide access to necessary financial services but also prioritize privacy, safety, and dignity for sex workers.
    • TickleCharge has built a network of payment processors and acquiring banks who specifically work with adult content creators, including sex workers. By offloading their payment processing to TickleCharge, adult industry professionals can expect to integrate secure payment processing services that come with built-in fraud protection. Our team works with sex-workers to get them legit adult merchant accounts, which allows them to accept all kinds of credit and debit card payments without any payment processor bias or discrimination.
    • In addition to TickleCharge-like platform-based solutions, there are also initiatives and organizations that actively support the financial autonomy and inclusion of sex workers. The Red Umbrella Fund is a prominent example. It provides grants to sex worker-led organizations and initiatives worldwide, enabling them to develop their own financial strategies and build financial resilience.
    • The Red Umbrella fund not only provides direct financial support but also empowers sex workers to advocate for policy changes that promote financial inclusion and challenge discriminatory practices.

II. Technological Advancements Driving Financial Inclusion for Sex Workers

    • According to an article from Stanford Social Innovation Review, Red Umbrella Fund, Tides Foundation, and the Desiree Alliance partnered to launch the Red Canary Song Credit Union, a financial institution designed for sex workers. The credit union offers savings accounts, loans, and other financial services to sex workers. This community-led initiative is run by its members and is improving financial security and well-being of the sex workers.
    • Technology’s role in breaking down barriers to financial inclusion for sex workers is notable. By harnessing the power of digital advancements, technology has provided avenues for sex workers to access financial services and manage their finances securely, without trespassing the regulatory framework. 
    • These technological solutions have been instrumental in challenging the stigma and discrimination that sex workers often face when trying to access traditional financial institutions.
    • Mobile banking solutions and digital wallets have emerged as key tools in promoting financial inclusion for sex workers. These innovative technologies enable sex workers to access financial services conveniently through their smartphones, eliminating the need for physical bank branches and paperwork.
    • With mobile banking apps and digital wallets, sex workers can perform a wide range of financial transactions, such as sending and receiving money, paying bills, and monitoring their account balances, all from the palm of their hand.
    • Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies have emerged as powerful tools for promoting financial inclusion and ensuring anonymity and security for sex workers. Cryptocurrencies offer an alternative payment method that operates outside of traditional financial systems, providing sex workers with increased privacy and discretion in their financial transactions.
    • Case studies demonstrating the benefits of cryptocurrencies (h3)
      • Using crypto to facilitate payments is one of the best options for online sex workers.
      • Cryptocurrency offers anonymity, traceability, irreversibility, and freedom from commissions, making it an appealing payment method for various industries including sex work.
      • Allie Rae, an ICU nurse turned OnlyFans model turned entrepreneur, experienced the advantages of using Bitcoin firsthand. When starting her private show service over Skype, her client instructed her to hold a QR code up to the camera. With a quick scan, the money was securely transferred, belonging solely to her without any intermediaries or transaction fees. Within 15 minutes, the transaction was complete, unhindered by banks or commissions.
      • Cryptocurrency can be a lifeline for sex workers, but it also has its drawbacks. The volatility of cryptocurrency can make it difficult to plan for the future, and the fact that it is not widely accepted can make it difficult to use for day-to-day expenses. However, the use of cryptocurrency by sex workers is growing, and it is likely that the industry will continue to find ways to use it to their advantage

III. Overcoming Payment Processor Bias and Fighting Financial Discrimination

    • Payment processor bias is a form of discrimination that occurs when payment processors refuse to process payments for certain types of businesses or individuals. This can have a devastating impact on businesses and individuals who rely on electronic payments to conduct their business or personal transactions.
    • Sex workers are one of the groups that are most often affected by payment processor bias. This is because sex work is often seen as a high-risk activity, and payment processors may be reluctant to process payments for businesses that are involved in sex work. This can make it difficult for sex workers to accept payments for their services, and it can also make it difficult for them to access other financial services, such as bank accounts and loans.
    • There are a number of steps that can be taken to combat payment processor bias. One step is to raise awareness of the issue and to educate payment processors about the importance of providing equal access to financial services for all businesses and individuals. Another step is to work with financial institutions and regulators to develop policies that will prevent payment processor bias. Finally, it is also important to develop alternative payment platforms that are not subject to the same biases as traditional payment processors.
    • Statistical data showcasing disparities in payment processing (h3)
      There is a significant disparity in payment processing between sex workers and other businesses. A study by the National Task Force on Prostitution found that 63% of sex workers had experienced difficulty in obtaining or keeping a merchant account. This is compared to just 12% of other businesses.
    • The study also found that sex workers were more likely to have their merchant accounts terminated without warning. 23% of sex workers had their accounts terminated, compared to just 4% of other businesses.
    • The study concluded that payment processor bias against sex workers is a significant barrier to their ability to conduct business.
    • There are a number of steps that can be taken to combat payment processor bias. One step is to raise awareness of the issue and to educate payment processors about the importance of providing equal access to financial services for all businesses and individuals.
    • Another step is to work with financial institutions and regulators to develop policies that will prevent payment processor bias. Finally, the  important decision that sex workers need to take is to evaluate alternative payment platforms like TickleCharge that are not built with the same biases as traditional payment processors. TickleCharge founder herself faced fintech biases while building up her adult wellness content platform called TickleLife and decided to jump in to fixing the broken rails within the payment ecosystem.  
    • Advocacy and awareness campaigns
    • One way to combat payment processor bias is to raise awareness of the issue and to educate payment processors about the importance of providing equal access to financial services for all businesses and individuals. This can be done through advocacy and awareness campaigns.
    • For instance, advocacy groups can lobby policymakers to implement legal protections for sex workers’ financial rights. These advocacy campaigns can be used to open dialogue with payment processors to make their policies more inclusive for all businesses and individuals, including adult industries.
    • Awareness campaigns can be used to educate the public about the wide-ranging issue of payment processor bias and to encourage them to support small-medium businesses that are affected by it.
  • Collaboration with financial institutions and regulators
    • Another way to combat payment processor bias is to work directly with financial institutions and regulators to develop policies that will prevent payment processor bias. This can be done through active community-led collaboration and dialogue.
    • Collaboration can be used to develop policies that will ensure that payment processors do not discriminate against businesses or individuals. Dialogue can be used to discuss the issue of payment processor bias and to develop solutions that will address it.
  • Developing alternative payment platforms
    • Innovation and entrepreneurship play a vital role in developing alternative payment platforms that do not penalize high-risk sectors like adult entertainment.
    • For example, platforms like TickleCharge have emerged specifically to offer payment processing solutions that can be tailored for adult and sex workers. These alternate payment solutions are designed keeping in mind the regulatory and compliance expectations of the adult industries.
    • By fostering the development of such alternative payment platforms, sex workers can overcome the challenges imposed by payment processor bias and gain access to financial services that meet their specific needs.


Financial inclusion is a crucial aspect of empowering sex workers and enabling them to access essential services and improve their overall well-being. The future of financial inclusion for sex workers lies in leveraging technological advancements and challenging payment processor bias. 

If we can successfully address the financial inclusion challenges faced by sex workers, we can expect to see a number of positive outcomes. Here is what we can hope to achieve in future:

  • Improved economic stability: With access to banking and financial services, sex workers can manage their finances more effectively, save for the future, and achieve greater economic stability.
  • Increased safety and security: Digital payment solutions can help protect sex workers from theft and violence by reducing the amount of cash they need to carry.
  • Reduced stigma and discrimination: By promoting financial inclusion and challenging payment processor bias, we can reduce stigma and discrimination against sex workers, leading to a more inclusive and equitable society.
  • Increased entrepreneurship: With access to financial resources, sex workers can start and grow their own businesses, creating new jobs and contributing to the economy.
  • Improved access to healthcare: By leveraging digital payment solutions, sex workers can access healthcare services more easily and affordably, leading to improved health outcomes.

By working towards financial inclusion for sex workers, we can create a more just and equitable society that benefits us all.