Mastercard’s New Rules for Adult Content and Services – Will this Affect You?

Effective on October 15 2021, Mastercard announced its recent changes and updates to adult content and services, which will directly affect all merchants in this category. The new requirements aim to regulate and control the provision of adult and content services – particularly in areas of consent, age and identify verification, and distribution of illegal content.

Summary of the New Rules

The Mastercard adult content and service update applies to person-to-person sharing of explicit adult content (e.g., dating sites that allow such content), as well as subscription website access, streaming video; pictures and images, and videotape and DVD rentals

  1. Consent from Third-party user (i.e., Content Provider)

Merchants must obtain written consent from all individuals appearing in adult related content to be depicted in the content – whether uploaded or generated, and in real-time or live streamed. The consent covers public distribution and uploading of the content, as well as consent to users downloading the content.

If consent cannot be established, the content is therefore deemed noncompliant to Mastercard rules. Content must be removed instantly and not be published.

  1. Written Agreement with Content Provider

Merchants need to enter into written agreement with each content provider, detailing the prohibition of illegal activity or actions that otherwise violate Mastercard rules; as well as the requirements in obtaining written consent (aforementioned).

  1. Age verification of Individuals depicted in the content

Merchants are required to verify identity and age of all individuals depicted in adult content, to ensure that the individuals are of legal and consenting age. Merchants must do so by validating government-issued ID – ideally through specialised third-party ID verification services.

  1. Content Created and Distributed in Hardcopies prior to 15 October 2021 are not applicable to New Rules

Any hardcopy content created and distributed prior to 15 October 2021 (such as a DVD or VHS tape) are not applicable to the new adult content and services requirements regarding individual consent. However, all digital formats of adult content uploaded after 15 October 2021 are subject to the new rules.

  1. Pre-screen, Reviewing and Monitoring Requirement

Merchants must pre-screen and review all content prior to publication, for the purpose of ensuring content is legal, of consent, and compliant with Mastercard Standards. Mastercard also requires merchants to monitor platforms and streaming content in real-time, to detect and remove content if necessary. Specialised automated tools to review content in real-time is highly recommended.

  1. Monthly Reports and Record Keeping

The new rules require adult content merchants to document and keep records of illegal content detected on their platforms, and the merchant’s consequent actions – in the format of a monthly report. These reports are required to be submitted to their Acquirer, and subject to review by Mastercard.

  1. Child Exploitation materials and non-consensual activities strictly prohibited

Merchants must not market the content of its websites to depict impressions of child exploitation materials or non-consensual activities.

  1. Complaint Process

Merchants need to enable a complaint process to allow prohibited content to be reported for review. Reported complaints must be resolved within 7 business days. If the content is found to be prohibited, merchants must remove content immediately.

And finally, if you are an adult content and services merchant, you must register with Mastercard before processing online adult content and services transactions – under non-face-to-face adult content and using either MCC 5967: Direct Marketing—Inbound Telemarketing Merchants or MCC 7841: Video Entertainment Rental Store.

Austreme is an industry leader in merchant onboarding and monitoring, helping brand owners, acquiring banks and payment service providers over the world detect online merchants’ illegal and brand-damaging transactions. Contact us now if you are interested in finding out more about our services to review the procedures and policies of adult content sites.