While this page also includes everything in the original "Coed Cherry is in danger" page that I posted before closing the site, there is a lot of new info. So read on if you're looking for an update on what happened since.
On August 16th 2022 our bank told us they are closing our business accounts
We had no luck finding a bank or credit union that would ake us
In 2013 my wife and I incorporated our business in Ontario, Canada as Amber-Lace Entertainment Ltd. At that time we opened commercial accounts with The Bank of Montreal & we did not have a single problem or issue for these past NINE years (or the 10 years before we incorporated and opened these accounts).
Suddenly we get this notice:
This letter is to inform you that after careful consideration, we will be ending our banking relationship with Amber-Lace Entertainment Ltd. It has been determined that your business activities fall outside of our risk appetite, and therefore we do not have an appropriate basis to maintain a banking relationship.
As a result, we ask that you close your accounts by September 16, 2022. After that time we will cease to operate these accounts. A full list of all the accounts to be closed is attached.
Risk and Compliance, Personal and Commercial Banking
BMO Financial Group
That's all they said. They didn't identify a particular "risk". They didn't give any recourse to appeal. They didn't explain which particular "business activity" they have a problem with (but we've since learned that virtually all financial institutions in Canada list adult entertainment as an industry they won't go near).
For 2 months my wife and I reached out to every single bank and credit union in Canada that we could find. We explained our story, business model, how we earn money, where that money comes from etc.
The Bank of Montreal gave us a 30-day extension so that we could keep looking. But that came and went and all we succeeded at was getting more rejections until we were eventually out of options entirely.
Every single financial instituation that does business in Ontario turned us down. Every ... single ... one.
At first we thought these anti-porn policies were new. We never tried to hide what we do. For nearly 20 years this was just our normal life and we never thought something like this would happen.
We found out, after connecting with industry colleagues, was that they all thought we were pretty dumb having the business name we do and were surprised this didn't happen way sooner.
It turns out that banks have always had these policies. It's just that there used to be an unwritten policy of "don't ask / don't tell."
What has changed are new government regulations coming into effect in many countries called "Know Your Customer Laws." These regulations are intended to combat money laundering and other criminal activity. They also force banks to ask you an insane amount of details about your business when opening accounts:
One person who saw our message has experience working at a bank in the USA and wrote us this:
I am [identity protected] in the United States. I enjoyed reading your story about the site and wanted to chime in on a few things. For a couple of years, I worked for Citi Bank in their anti-money laundering program. One of the things we were taught early on is that there are certain business types that they simply will not do business with, and adult entertainment is one of them. It does not matter if all of your paperwork is in order and you are tax-paying, law-abiding citizens. It's more of a zero-tolerance policy. You stated that the Bank of Montreal did not specify what the risk was, but I can tell you that the risk has to do with money-laundering, terrorist financing, and/or general reputational risk. For example, if for some reason your site was implicated in some crime (i.e. certain models are too young, or maybe there's human/sex trafficking), they feel that being associated with you would bring reputational harm to their company. In some cases, they can get in trouble with the Canadian government if a crime like those are committed and they could have done something to stop it. I'm not saying I agree with it, because I think there are ways that banks can manage that risk, but ultimately that's the world we live in.
My only advice is to check with some other site owners to see how they do their banking. One thing you could potentially try is building some other non-adult websites and rebrand your business with a more neutral name. So when they ask what you do, you don't have to lie and you don't have to be specific about owning an adult entertainment website.
Just food for thought. I have enjoyed your site for years and always appreciate how consistent you've been with updating the site daily.
Good luck and keep up the good fight.
This was by far our best option if we were going to keep the business alive. In addition to the email above, every industry colleague and even a nice woman we met with who has worked at one of Canada's "big 5" major banks for 25 years recommended that we rebrand.
The woman was sympathetic to us. She told us about a local strip club that used to bank there, and they said in their paperwork that they were a "banquet hall." Everyone at the bank knew better, it was an "open secret." But she said they couldn't get away with that today, and they also shut down recently. Though I don't know if it was banking trouble or Covid that did them in. They were around for as long as I can remember, though. My wife even danced there 20 years ago briefly right before we created Coed Cherry.
There are 2 reasons that a rebrand isn't going to happen for us:
It's possible but unlikely
I have opted to keep the domain names, content and IP. I have archives of all of the content. I even have the entire site running on a local server in my office, which served as my "development sandbox" for all of these years. Hypothetically if one day I really wanted to and can solve the banking issues, likely with a rebrand, then I could bring her back online. She would probably never get the same levels of traffic as before the shut-down. But it could be done.
An industry colleague did express some interest in buying the site. If he reads this, I hope that he's not too upset with me that I've been impossible to reach for the last couple of weeks. It was not my intention to ghost you, I just started to check out mentally and emotionally. Things at work started to really ramp up, I was recently promoted, there's a new project and all of this happened DURING the banking crisis. Trying to deal with that on top of the crisis almost killed me and I deprioritized everything that wasn't extremely urgent.
The idea of selling had its appeal. It would keep Coed Cherry online and I would get more money out of it before shutting down our business.
I just couldn't do it.
There are some minor logistical complications, like I need to keep the email addresses to keep certain affiliate and payment-related accounts active until they are no longer worth anything.
But also ...
Coed Cherry is mine. I built it. From nothing. The banks didn't build it. I did!
It might be disappointing, a little bit hard to understand and extremely selfish but giving her up is like giving up a part of me. I wrote every line of code, I kept up with content updates 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. I saved all of the Christmas content to put Christmas day every year. I did a "double update" in advance of Christmas day so that I could take that one single day off each year. I maintained the servers. I responded to bullshit false flag DMCA requests (which had an extreme rampup during Covid when so many porn stars and models went independent on Only Fans and tried to get us removed from Google results). I made the decision to keep ads off of the site. Even though it probably would have made WAY more money had I not made that choice. But I made that choice because I wanted to create something good.
I could go on.
I became the Software Engineer that I am today by creating Coed Cherry. When I created the site I was wet behind the ears. Less than 2 years in the industry. Everything I learned about engineering, writing "clean code", and how to build high-traffic dynamic web applications at scale I learned on my own by building Coed Cherry.
Now consider this...
ALL of my employers for the last 4 years know about my business. Not only that, but the first one looked at what I had created - in the adult entertainment industry - when deciding to hire me because THAT WAS BASICALLY ALL I HAD ON MY RESUME!
I actually gave them my contact at FTV Girls as a reference because I had no professional contacts outside of adult entertainment.
None of my employers think that having an employee with an adult business is "high risk."
So banks can seriously go fuck themselves.
And now, instead of selling and hoping that someone else will take as good care of her as I did, CoedCherry's death gets to share our story and give a public "FUCK YOU" to our banking institutions for being repressive, bigoted, fear-driven, prejudiced assholes who don't deserve our business anyway.
We had some people ask if sending us money would help.
As much as we appreciate the sentiment, money is not our problem.
Not only was Coed Cherry profitable (which is another part of this that hurts so much), but we are doing absolutely fine financially.
We love the support but you don't have to worry about us and whether we'll be OK. A lack of money is not what killed the site.
The problem is that we need to be able to do every day basic transactions like pay for offense expenses, pay taxes, make payroll etc.
An industry colleague that we reached out to, who we thought was in Canada, emailed us back to explain that his business is actually based in the USA and invited me to phone him to discuss how he does things.
Unfortunately, for all the same logistical reasons that make a rebrand difficult, incorporating in a different country is not something we can manage.
Some suggested online banks like Wise. They have the same anti-porn policies as our domestic banks. Go figure.
It's just not there yet.
Maybe some day we'll be able to do everything in crypto, but the problem right now is that at some point it needs to be converted back to paper money and brought into the country somehow. That usually means making withdraws from the exchanges into a domestic bank account. When the Canadian government and our accountant accepts tax payments in crypto, when we can pay employees in cyrpto and they can use cyrpto to heat their houses, then maybe it will be a viable option.
We tried. At least there is that. We learned a lot and we found one avenue that could work but we couldn't bring ourselves to do it. This is the world we live in. Despite how ubiquitous, commonplace and "normal" pornography is thanks to the Internet, we are apparently still stuck in the 1950s with uptight banks that refuse to associate themselves with us.
I'm very sorry to let CoedCherry go. But it is time move on. All good things come to an end.