They did so in an obscure and arcane area of the internet most people aren’t familiar with: credit card payment processing gateways, lynchpins of internet transactions the world over.
“Honestly, it was something I wasn’t even expecting,” Bent-Con President Sean Holman said. “When you think about hate groups, you think of them with regards to anti-marriage efforts or against serving openly in the military. You don’t think about them in terms of internet payment systems. But there you go.”
Credit card payment gateways are the mechanism the internet uses to exchange information between websites and mobile phones and the banks. When the general public buys a pizza or orders tickets over the web, the gateway verifies all the information is correct, authorizes the transfer of funds — and takes a percentage for the effort in “fees.” These fees can add up to significant amounts of money, for both the seller and the gateway service. Getting the best deal possible is what ever seller requires.
“In setting up our ticket service, our ticketing agent signed us up with an established company that offers low rates to non-profits like us — Cornerstone Payment Systems — that’s when things got odd,” Holman said.
Typical approval time is 48 hours. Several days of no word prompted Mr. Holman to inquire about the delay, first to the ticketing agency, then to Cornerstone itself. Two weeks later, a Cornerstone representative sent a cryptic email that said, “Unfortunately because the type of business we cannot get this account approved. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Puzzled, Mr. Holman inquired further with both Cornerstone and the ticketing agency about the rejection and the language. Apologizing, the ticketing agency indicated that Conerstone’s “underwriting criteria will be problematic”
Mr. Holman admits to being frustrated by the delay, but once the new gateway came on-line, he was satisfied. Then he and Jody Wheeler, the vice-president of Bent-Con, did a little on-line research and were quite surprised by what they found.”Mostly, I was curious about what was ‘problematic’
According to their website, Cornerstone Payment Systems of Bristol, VA (www.cornerstonepaymentsystems.com)
One of Cornerstone’
Titled the ”Processing with a Purpose” service, (www.processingwithapurpose.com)
Cornerstone also provides these services to related organizations like the Home
“No wonder they rejected us,” Mr. Holman said. “We’re the kind of people they hate!”
The most troubling aspect, though, is that Cornerstone, directly and through partnerships, has provided gateway services to unknowing groups who support equality and fairness in other ways. ”There are several charities — cancer prevention, poverty reduction, even Little League organizations — that use Cornerstone due to its low rates and inadvertently fund the anti-gay hate industry in the United States, ” Mr. Holman said.
“Had things broken in a slightly different way, we might have wound up providing money to what is, essentially, the ‘bag-man’ for internet funded hate groups. I wonder how many otherwise great organizations don’t realize they’re helping to fund such hate with their own internet sales, ” Mr. Holman added.
Bent-Con 2012 is happening November 30th, December 1st and 2nd in Los Angeles CA. With an estimated attendance of 3000 people, it is one of the largest conventions
Viktor T. Kerney
Director of Outreach