Stripe Discriminates Against Witches

Selling tarot readings through my website was the best way to go when I first decided to offer them. I am a writer and prefer to give readings in written format. After building my Squarespace site, integration with Stripe was a breeze. After gaining popularity through my Instagram account, I added digital workbooks and study guides to my site. This helped me build a steady online business selling these products.
After several months, Stripe sent me a notice stating that my sales had violated their terms of services. My tarot work fit in their wide category of psychic services, and therefore was considered a high-risk, restricted business. After emailing them to defend my business to no avail, they restructured my payments so that I could work with PayPal. This allowed me to continue to offer limited services through my website.

In early 2020, the pandemic hit and my freelance photography income was reduced. I then launched the Substack newsletter. After carefully reading the Stripe Terms of Service and creating my own tarot writings, I launched with great excitement and had people sign up for paid subscriptions immediately. After running it for one month, I received the same notice from Stripe stating that I had violated their terms. Again, I fought back and won my case, keeping my newsletter alive. I felt relieved that my newsletter was safe and continued to post content on Substackonly for the same problems with Stripe one year later.

I'm not the only one. Stripe, a technology company that was founded in 2011, is the only payment processor for popular platforms such as Substack and Teachable. They are one of the most popular payment platforms online, with over 3,000,000 websites. However, they are not friendly to metaphysical businesses that, due to their psychic services label, are frequently deemed ineligible for payment processing.

Many businesses and individuals in this space have been kicked off the platform due to a lack of understanding of occult work, as well as a lack of nuance in these terms. Many freelancers and small-business owners depend on books, courses, workshops and lectures for income. Being unable to pay for these services directly impacts our ability to earn a living. This policy could negatively impact those who may already be in financial hardship, as the majority of these services are offered by people of color, women, queer, and people of color.

It is not a new concept to have occult work classified as high-risk. Square and Etsy have made it difficult for metaphysical practitioners to sell their products and services through their platforms. According to Stripes support team email, these businesses make claims that aren't supported by science and past evidence. This can lead to high chargeback rates. Customers will be promised an outcome and if that does not happen, Stripes will file a dispute as Product Not Acceptable.

Termes like psychic and fortune teller are demeaning, discriminatory and pejorative.

Stripe understands the need to protect its customers from fraud artists and disreputable sellers. However, many people aren't satisfied with the generic label of psychic services that attempts categorize and define our businesses. Occult services provide opportunities for reflection, self-awareness and compassion. They also offer different ways to discover truth, spirituality and intuition. These services are empowering and comforting and can help people find strength and purpose even when they feel weak or afraid. Everyone in the industry has an interest in making sure customers know what they are getting. We don't want to disappoint our clients or promise something we can't deliver. My tarot readings, for instance, allow my clients to see their problems, questions, or situations from a new perspective. They are able to get clarity and new perspectives in a supportive and affirming setting. My website explicitly states that I am not a psychic and have never claimed to be psychic.

Phyllis Curott, Wiccan priestess and attorney, stated that terms such as psychic and fortune teller are demeaning, discriminatory and pejorative. She also spoke out about her struggles with Stripe. It is clear that many Wiccans, Witches and Pagans have experienced similar problems with Stripe. This makes it sound more like a pattern of religious discrimination than random, algorithmic stupidities. Small specialty businesses are also struggling to defend themselves against centuries of misinformation about spirituality and witchcraft.