Home Australia Melbourne sex worker ‘humiliated and disrespected’ after bank error

Melbourne sex worker ‘humiliated and disrespected’ after bank error

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Victorian man Matthew Roberts (pictured) had been charging his customers using a portable EFTPOS machine for years before he was asked to reapply for the service - and was denied.

A gay sex worker was left “humiliated and disrespected” after his bank prevented him from accepting credit card payments from clients.

Victorian man Matthew Roberts had been charging his customers using a portable EFTPOS machine for years, with about half preferring to pay with a card.

When Mint Payments changed its sister company from Bendigo Bank to First Data Merchant Solutions in 2022, it was asked to reapply for the service.

During a call with a junior employee, Roberts said he was discriminated against because of his profession and prevented from reapplying.

“They asked me about my occupation, there was a dead silence and then they hung up the phone,” he said. news.com.au.

Victorian man Matthew Roberts (pictured) had been charging his customers using a portable EFTPOS machine for years before he was asked to reapply for the service – and was denied.

‘Sex workers across the country face a dilemma. They can lie and be treated fairly or tell the truth and almost certainly face discrimination.

‘I chose to tell the truth and the discrimination was intense and rapid. She was physically shaking. “I felt humiliated and disrespected.”

In June 2022, Roberts wrote to the CEO of Mint Payments asking for confirmation as to why he had been banned from the service.

Mint Payments’ response said: “In accordance with the contractual terms and conditions of our current acquirers, we are unable to provide you with our service.”

Roberts said his anger motivated him to take legal action against the company with the goal of inspiring “cultural and political” change in the industry.

Maurice Blackburn brought a discrimination case against Mint Payments and its acquirer First Data Solutions Australia on behalf of Mr Roberts.

The application claimed there was no reason for sex workers to lie about their professions, as sex work was decriminalized in Victoria in 2022, where it is also illegal to discriminate against someone based on their occupation.

Bridie Murphy, senior associate in Maurice Blackburn’s social justice practice, said the denial of financial services, often called “unbanking”, has been a major issue for sex workers.

“In an increasingly cashless economy, debanking has serious implications for anyone running their own business, including sex workers,” she said.

“This case is a timely reminder that it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their job.”

A letter from Mint Payments said:

A letter from Mint Payments said: “In accordance with the contractual terms and conditions of our current acquirers, we are unable to provide you with our service.”

In late 2023, Roberts settled her case on the condition that both First Data Solutions Australia and Mint Payments do not restrict their services to sex workers and consider their applications on their merits, not their profession.

Both companies agreed to provide training to their employees on anti-discrimination laws.

Roberts said other sex workers had been forced out of their businesses due to debanking.

He said he is proud to be a sex worker and defend the rights of his industry.

“I’m in the industry because I love the work I do and that’s never going to change,” Mr Roberts said.

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