Amazon Payments, a payment gateway used by Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms, has revoked service for GetGayFunded.com, putting existing project funding in jeopardy and forcing founder Adam Kotkin to scramble to find an alternative.
Kotkin has now launched an Indiegogo campaign seeking up to $25,000 in flexible funding. As Kotkin shares in his campaign video, “I’d like to raise funds to keep GetGayFunded up and running while we seek a new processor that doesn’t discriminate against (the LGBT) community and hopefully relaunch in the coming weeks.”
According to his press release (below after the break), Kotkin explains that GetGayFunded.com was accepted via Amazon Payments in December of 2012. Operations began and a handful of projects were successfully funded. When one project creator had trouble releasing the funds Amazon Payments was approached for an explanation, and shortly thereafter service was stopped to the platform itself. According to Kotkin, Amazon has now placed a hold on funds for campaigns that were already successful.
Kotkin wants Amazon to release the existing funding so those who have already successfully raised money through campaigns can receive the pledged funds. He also wants to use social media to gain some leverage over Amazon and bring attention to what he sees as discrimination against the LGBT community.
This is not the first time Amazon has revoked payment services to a crowdfunding platform. Last year Unglue.it faced a similar situation when Amazon revoked service. Unglue.it crowdfunds efforts to release books from their copyrights, thus making them available for free to the public.
An Amazon representative explained to Wired’s Marcus Wohlsen last year how Unglue.it put them in a pecarious legal position:
“We support a wide variety of businesses, but we have regulatory obligations as a licensed money services business for how we operate,” Amazon spokesman Ty Rogers said in an email. “Unfortunately, Unglue.it’s model is not the same as some other crowdfunding services, and at this time does not allow us to meet those obligations.”
We will continue to monitor Kotkin’s efforts to release funds to those campaigns that have raised money through his platform.
Amazon Payments Abruptly Shuts Down Service For Apps Genius Corp’s LGBT Fundraising Site – GetGayFunded.com
GetGayFunded.com, a crowdfunding website for the LGBT community, was effectively and unexpectedly shut down by Amazon Payments on Wednesday, said Adam Kotkin, chief executive officer of Apps Genius Corp (OTCQB: APGS), the company that developed and operates GetGayFunded.com. Amazon Payments provided the processing service by which the crowdfunding site collected and dispersed funds for projects of interest to the LGBT community and its allies.
According to Kotkin, when he approached Amazon Payments for an explanation, the responses he received from Amazon Payments representatives were confusing, contradictory and simply not true.
“In one email, Amazon Payments said the GetGayFunded application had been denied. But that’s not true as our application was approved in December 2012 and the site had been fully functional with projects receiving their funding through Amazon Payments,” Kotkin said. “Another rationalization said we were rejected because we claimed 501c3 status, but nowhere in any of our documentation had we claimed that because it’s simply not true and their phone rep agreed.
“Yet another email from Amazon Payments said they aren’t currently accepting crowdfunding projects. Again, we were accepted last December and my other crowdfunding site with Amazon Payments, GetFunded.com, is still up and functioning perfectly as are several other crowdfunding sites processed through Amazon Payments. The only difference between the two sites is that one is focused on the LGBT community and the other on animal welfare.”
Kotkin is currently looking for a new partner to process funds donated on GetGayFunded.com and has started a fundraising project of his own on IndieGoGo at http://igg.me/at/getgayfunded to expedite the re-launch.
He is mostly concerned, however, with the almost $7,000 that’s been raised for 20 LGBT-oriented projects. Amazon Payments has ignored Kotkin’s multiple appeals to release those funds to the groups for which they were intended.
Kotkin said the chain of events seemed to start when the Charleston Blockade Gay Rugby Team had trouble collecting the $2,000 contributed for their new team uniforms. The team directed Amazon Payments to GetGayFunded to review the team’s project and while an error was found on the team’s payment processing application, the Amazon Payment rep said there was nothing misleading or inappropriate listed on the team’s fundraising page. One hour later, Amazon Payments terminated it relationship with GetGayFunded.com, leaving all the LGBT projects on the site in limbo.
“These people worked hard to fund projects on my site,” he said. “I don’t care if we never work with Amazon again and I don’t care about our lost fees, but these projects deserve to have their funds released.”
Interestingly, Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos and his wife donated $2.5 million last year to a Washington state campaign to legalize same-sex marriage there. According to a Wall Street Journal report at the time, Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said, “It’s a personal decision, and Jeff and Mackenzie feel strongly about the issue.”
“One would hope that Mr. Bezos’ inclusive and supportive nature would trickle down through the whole organization,” Kotkin said.