OnlyFans CEO explains why the site banned porn: ‘The short answer is banks’

OnlyFans CEO Tim Stokely says the firm had “no choice” but to ban porn after “unfair” treatment by banks. Starting Oct. 1, OnlyFans will no longer allow “sexually explicit” content on its service. OnlyFans gained popularity by allowing adult performers to charge their fans to view “not safe for work” content.

OnlyFans CEO explains why the site banned porn: ‘The short answer is banks’

OnlyFans founder and CEO Tim Stokely says the online subscription platform had “no choice” but to ban pornography after “unfair” treatment by banks.

Last week, OnlyFans said it would on its service as of Oct. 1 in order to comply with requests from its banking and payment providers. It’s not yet clear how OnlyFans defines such content. The firm said it would continue to allow certain posts containing nudity.

In an published Tuesday, Stokely provided further explanation for the company’s decision to ban porn, saying lenders would often “cite reputational risk and refuse our business.”

“The change in policy, we had no choice — the short answer is banks,” Stokely told the FT.

Stokely name-dropped a few banks, including   and. He said BNY Mellon “flagged and rejected” every wire transfer linked to the firm, while Britain’s Metro Bank in 2019 closed OnlyFans’ corporate account with short notice.

As for JPMorgan, Stokely claims the U.S. banking giant was “particularly aggressive in closing accounts of sex workers or ... any business that supports sex workers.”

BNY Mellon, Metro Bank and JPMorgan were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Founded in 2016, London-based OnlyFans gained popularity by allowing adult performers to charge their fans a subscription fee to view “not safe for work” videos and images. The company, which claims to have 130 million users and 2 million content creators, boomed in the coronavirus pandemic as lockdowns stifled big porn productions.

Some have speculated there may be other factors behind OnlyFans’ porn ban. For one, the company is reportedly struggling to attract outside investment, according to  Meanwhile, credit card networks like  have cracked down on porn lately.

Last year, Mastercard and  cut ties with Pornhub after accusations the porn site . Pornhub denied it allowed child sexual abuse material, but tightened its policies to prohibit uploads from unverified users.

According to the FT report, Mastercard is set to bring in tougher rules for “specialty merchants,” which are due to take effect on Oct. 1, the same day OnlyFans will impose its sexual content ban. However, Stokely said the firm was “already fully compliant with the new Mastercard rules, so that had no bearing on the decision.”

Mastercard wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

OnlyFans, which is majority-owned by Ukrainian-American porn entrepreneur Leonid Radvinsky, was reportedly seeking a round of funding that would value it at more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg.

OnlyFans has attempted to shift its image to become more than just a platform for sex workers. Celebrities like Cardi B and Bella Thorne have joined the platform in the past year, for example. OnlyFans is also used by fitness enthusiasts and musicians. But porn remains the most popular category on the site.

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