Stripe Fights Against Witches | WIRED
When I decided to start offering tarot readings, sell them through my website seems to be the easiest way. I’m a writer, and prefer to provide my readings in a written format — and after building my Squarespace site, the Stripe integration only took a few minutes to set up. Eventually I added many products — digital workbooks and study guides that fascinated my growth. Following on Instagram—and built a steady business selling these items online.
A few months later, I received a notification from Stripe that my sale violated their terms of service, as my tarot work seemed to fit into their broad category of “psychic services” and therefore considered a limited, “high risk” business. After emailing them back to defend my business, in vain, I restructured my fees to work with PayPal and continued to offer services through my website in this more limited capacity.
Then, in early 2020, with the start of the pandemic and the subsequent loss of my freelance photography income, I launched a Substack newsletter. After carefully studying Stripe’s terms of service and designing my personal tarot writings around them, I launched with great excitement, and was delighted to have people registering immediately for paid subscriptions. . I ran this for a month before I got the same familiar notice from Stripe, saying I had violated their terms. And once again, I resisted, this time winning my case and keeping my newsletter alive. I was relieved, believed my newsletter was safe, and continued to create content on Substack — only to encounter similar problems on Stripe a year ago.
I am not alone. Stripe, a technology company launched in 2011, serves as the exclusive payment processor for popular platforms such as Substack, Teachable, Circle, Ghost, Shopify, Medium, Revue, Memberful, and Clubhouse. Acting on over 3 million websites, they are one of the most numerous ubiquitous payment platforms on the internet — and they are not friendly to the people who run metaphysical businesses, which, due to the label “psychic services”, are often considered unfit for payment processing.
The lack of nuance in these terms, coupled with a constant misunderstanding of what real occultism is involved, has led many individuals and businesses into this space to be suspended from the platform, often without warning. Books, courses, workshops, lectures, consultations, reading, and other services are important sources of income for many freelancers and small business owners, so the non-payment of these offerings directly affects our livelihoods. . And most of these metaphysical services are offered by women, poor people, people of color, ug individuals with marginalized identities, this policy may be unbalanced to affect people who may already be at a financial disadvantage.
Occult creature classified as “high risk” is not new. Like companies Etsy and square it has also made it historically challenging for metaphysical practitioners to use their platforms to sell products and services. by Stripe official policy, per email from its support team, so that “these businesses often make claims that are not supported by science or past evidence, which can lead to high chargeback rates. Customers are promised a result, and if that doesn’t materialize, argue a charge like ‘Product not acceptable.’ ”Their policy is broad enough that the company can terminate the service immediately and permanently, even if the businesses operate without issue. for some time or before it is necessary to issue refunds to dissatisfied customers.
It is unreasonable that Stripe wants to protect customers from scam artists or bad salespeople. But for most, the general label of “psychic services” that tries to define and categorize our businesses isn’t even accurate. Occult services offer opportunities for meditation, self-recognition, and compassion, providing a variety of ways to explore truth, spirituality, and intuition. They can empower, comfort, and help people regain strength and purpose in times when they feel weak or afraid. Anyone who works in this industry has an interest in making sure clients know exactly what they’re getting — we also don’t want to have dissatisfied customers, or promise things we can never deliver. . The tarot readings I provide, for example, help my clients view challenges, questions, and situations through a different lens, providing clarity and new perspectives on a safe and affirming environment. I have never claimed to be a psychic, and I have actually clearly said that I am not psychic on my website.
“The use of terms such as psychic and psychic pejorative, demeaning, and discriminatory, such as suspension of service, “said the lawyer and Wiccan priestess Phyllis Curott about his own struggle with Stripe. “The fact that countless Wiccans, Witches, and Pagans have a similar Stripe problem began not as random, algorithmic follies but as a pattern of religious discrimination.” Legal questions about metaphysical services are already complex, and centuries of misinformation about spirituality and magic making it more difficult for small businesses to specialize in protecting themselves.