** EDIT – as of February 2022, Stripe has removed astrology from the high-risk category, though it’s always best to check the fine print!
Recently some members who use Stripe have been advised by Stripe that their accounts are being closed due to astrology being categorised as a restricted business. Stripe has somehow placed astrology in a category of high-risk businesses, along with many others including bankruptcy lawyers, computer technical support, travel reservation services and clubs, airlines, cruises, prepaid phone cards… the list is long and you can see it here. Stripe and their financial partners, including Mastercard and Visa, don’t want to take on the high cost of administration for these businesses.
Glenn Mitchell, as AFAN’s Legal Chair, reached out to Stripe earlier this week, to educate them that astrologers are not psychic or fortune-tellers and therefore pose no more risk for financial services than the typical business. Their response was clear that they do recognise astrology as a legal business however, astrology is classified as a high-risk business by their financial partners and as such, they do not allow astrologers to use their service. Basically, the risk measured is against refunds and admin fees and their statistics must show our field as having a higher risk.
Unfortunately, as Stripe is a corporate entity, they have the right to restrict access to their services, much like each of us as astrologers have the right to not offer our services to some clients. So AFAN doesn’t have much legal recourse to demand they change their terms of service. This is a real reminder to read all the terms and conditions of any contract you sign.
But it’s not all bad news. One of our members successfully had her account reinstated this week by asking Stripe to review her account to see that statistically, she as an individual account holder wasn’t high risk as she hasn’t had many refunds to issue in the past. Asking questions like “Can you explain how exactly my business poses a high risk or violates your policies?” and “Please look at my individual business’ history before making a final decision” can encourage a better result.
Square also has its prohibitions, including occult materials, but in a conversation with them in August 2019, Square indicated they didn’t see astrological services fitting into this. They stated “the claim that an item you are selling can perform a supernatural or metaphysical act or can be used in a way that is outside the normal physical limitations of the item, would be considered an occult item and would be prohibited under this section 6 of Square’s Terms. So long as you are not promoting, advertising, or otherwise claiming that what you are selling can do this, you are able to process payments using Square.”
It’s also a good idea for all astrologers to have a well-worded refund policy stated on their website so Stripe and other providers, such as Square and PayPal, know the process and see astrologers as professionals who take the financial side of their business seriously.
We are aware that a few astrologers are experiencing issues with PayPal, but haven’t had a dialogue with them yet. We will keep updating this article as new information comes in. Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org with any information, advice, or success stories that would help our community to build more effective partnerships with these payment providers.