Discrimination by banks against ‘adult-only’ businesses and their employees may be more widespread than previously identified, with seemingly arbitrary definitions of what constitutes an ‘adult-only’ enterprise.
One My Business reader said that the Bank of Queensland (BOQ) rejected his son’s personal loan application on the basis that he was employed by a payday lender.
“They told him that that type of business fell under the ‘adult-only’ banner and as an employee the company policy was that his loan would be rejected,” the reader said.
“When he told his employers, they initially didn’t believe him as they had banked with BOQ for 20 years, but when his boss went to the bank, it was confirmed.”
A spokesperson for BOQ told My Business that “due to customer confidentiality we are unable to comment on individual customers”, and would not go into the specifics of the bank’s definition of adult-only businesses or why employment with such a business would affect personal loan applicants.
However, the spokesperson suggested a review of its risk profile was behind the shift in lending practices.
“Like all banks, BOQ regularly reviews its risk appetite and business policies. A number of industries have been identified that fall outside BOQ’s risk appetite, which include online gambling, arms manufacturers, adult entertainment and businesses with unusual transaction activity, or that are frequently associated with criminal organisations,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Australian Bankers’ Association confirmed that “lending decisions are a matter for individual banks to exercise their own commercial discretion.”
In addition to adult product makers and retailers, as well as entertainment venues, the classification of a payday lender as an ‘adult-only’ service provider suggests that a striking number of businesses could face finance restrictions.
Tobacconists, bottle shops, pubs, betting and gambling venues, wineries and even news agencies could potentially fall under the banner, given that the sale of some or all of their products and services are restricted to those aged 18 years and over.
It comes after the Eros Association, which represents adult-only businesses including adult stores, manufacturers and entertainment services, released a report suggesting the bulk of its members have been actively denied financial products solely because of their industry rather than their business metrics.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.