Mastercard's recent behaviour

Hey there,

Not sure this is the right place to post this, as it’s not really a feedback, isn’t an idea, isn’t really a support request, but my question is to the Monzo team specifically. Please feel free to move this to the appropriate section if needed.

First of all (actually that part is a feedback): I love what you guys are doing and I love how you’re doing it. As a guy who works in free software and is involved in hacktivism, I really appreciate the importance you guys give to transparency and straightforward interactions with your community, which is really unusual for a bank. This is what made me move my finances to Monzo :slight_smile:
This is also what motivated me to ask you the following question, because it matters a lot to me and I feel like it might also matter to you.

There’s been a low-scale (from my perception) controversy regarding Mastercard over the past few months, in which Mastercard used its position as a major payment processor in order to force Patreon to suspend at least one user’s account. The most direct source I could find about that is here:

Although I understand Patreon’s reaction to such a request (there’s no real choice when asking to choose between losing one user or most or the platform’s income), I’m afraid of what this event means regarding freedom of expression. To be clear, I don’t know the user being suspended in this instance, and given the only tweet I’ve seen from him it would seem I would strongly disagree with most of his opinions. However, what this means here is that Mastercard is willing to use (some would even say abuse) of their influence to silence people they don’t agree with. This could mean a lot of troubles for most kind of freedom online.

As I picture Monzo as a company that worries about ethics, I was wondering what would be Monzo’s general opinion about this, given it provides Mastercard payment cards to its customers (and as such I wouldn’t like to be restricted in what content creator I back because of Mastercard’s decisions), and if plans to offer cards from different payment processors in the distant future.

Anyway, keep on doing what you do and be awesome at this!


Do you really think Monzo will comment on this? Come on it’s never gonna happen.

Will Monzo use Visa? Probably not in the short to medium term because Mastercard was much more open with working with fintech banks then Visa. Which is why if you look almost all the fintech banks uses Mastercard and not Visa.


Why did MasterCard care?


I do wonder why Mastercard are getting involved.

The dude does seem a little Alex Jones-ey though.

Maybe, but why should that play any part even if it was true? If MasterCard are attempting to decide who should and should be allowed to use money based on their beliefs that is a horrible road to go down. The people controlling our money deciding who should be allowed to have their own money or not?


You can’t cut off the beggining of the quote to suit your agenda.

I agree with you and echo your sentiments.

As I have no idea why MasterCard got involved, I don’t consider myself to be in a position to judge whether MasterCard should have got involved :man_shrugging:

1 Like

I just wanted to focus in on the second paragraph, but discord automatically includes the entire post in a quote you can get it via the down arrow.

I think you can to a degree. While maybe not the specifics of a specific case, Mastercard is one of very few companies which effectively control all money. That directly affects you, there’s a good point to consider if MasterCard should be allowed at all to make these decisions or if they should just process payments considering their place with money.

1 Like

I think anyone should be able to ask Patreon to block a user. It was Patreon who did the blocking, and as per their terms and conditions, they presumably have a right to do so.

I assume there is a reason for this and it may have been someone else requesting mastercard to remove him etc.

It does seem odd and I assume no one has seen any statement from mastercard?

It’s not in their terms and conditions. There was actually a transcript of a discussion with them and it turns out that they will decide subjectively on a case by case basis. Their terms have no bearing on if they boot you or not. However they stated that other people they booted were done so becuae they were told to by payment processors.

In the former your right they can boot anyone they want, but they should make that clear in their terms that they will boot anyone for any reason regardless if it was on patreon or not (they won’t becuae it would hurt their business). But that also means people have the right to point out that thay is potentially very bad for society.

The latter is an even larger problem imo, while a payment processor may be a private company, they can potentially control someone’s life, and there’s to few of them to guard against that at the moment.


Given Patreon’s usual communication, if the blocking was related to their own T&C, I’m surprised they even mentioned Mastercard. “We’ve blocked your account because it was against our T&C” is a very different reason for blocking (and much more acceptable to my opinion) than “Mastercard required us to do so”.

My understanding of that is that the blocking didn’t depend on the content going against either the law (in which case the forcing would have been done by a public competent organisation rather than a private company such as Mastercard) or T&C (in which case, even if Mastercard was involved, it would have been reporting the content as inappropriate rather than requiring its creator to be blocked). Which is also most of the opinions on this I saw on the coverings of this (even though I didn’t find any source that says exactly what the content of the communication between Mastercard and Patreon was, so this is pure speculation). What I’ve seen also doesn’t mention any communication from Mastercard on this, and given some of the covering has been happening a few days ago, around six months after this event, I don’t think one exists.

Whatever reason they had, I’m pretty afraid of how they went and used their influence to suspend a creator’s account whose content wasn’t apparently going against the law or the platform’s T&C, and what this means for freedom of speech/expression/press/etc. online, because this means that it’s possible we’ll witness other instances of that in the future involving someone whose content isn’t as controversial as this specific user’s.

There’s a whole list of things Patreon don’t allow.

We restrict some types of content and rewards. You cannot:

  • Create any content or rewards with real people engaging in sexual or violent acts.
  • Create any content or reward with nudity, or realistic depictions of sexual or violent acts, unless you flag the page as Adult Content and make the posts only viewable by patrons.
  • Use raffles, or any prizes based on chance, as a reward.
  • Create content or rewards using others’ intellectual property, unless you have written permission to use it, or your use is protected by fair use.

I have no idea what this person did or didn’t do, but he contravened any of these, then;

We can terminate or suspend your account at any time at our discretion. We can also cancel any pledges and remove any content or rewards at our discretion.

He didn’t, that’s why people are not happy about it.

Two things;

  1. I should have put an ‘if’ between ‘but’ and ‘he’
  2. How do you know he didn’t?
1 Like

The difference is Monzo cant by law mention anything and the people complaining don’t have any original evidence. This particular Patreon issues is very transparent, the issue is public knowledge, the removal is public knowledge, the reasons were made public knowledge and patreon made it clear the terms don’t count.

The entire thing is public knowledge including a conversion patreon wanted to keep secret which showed their reasoning behind how they ban people (that its subjective and the terms don’t need to apply for someone to be banned).

It’s not just someone mad at being legitimately banned, the information made available publicly or forcibly makes it extremely transparent what patreons stance is.

Unless I’ve missed something, it’s not clear why Mastercard did this (if they did, as Patreon claim).

Without knowing that, it’s a little bit hard for us to comment. The tweet from Patreon states that there were more details sent to Robert via email, but as far as I can see he has not published the contents of that email, so we seem to be missing part of the story here.


If its true which is highly unlikely, then how do you know its not due to fraud that Mastercard got involved.

With millions of transactions a second Mastercard doesn’t just randomly choose a person or a site to stop.

Just because someone said Mastercard, how do we know that its not Patreons bank saying there is lots of Mastercard fraud on that account you need to stop etc. And someone in customer service taking that to mean it was Mastercard.

This is one of the big problems with having private American companies running the payment networks. If the US decides it doesn’t like you could have all (or some) your electronic payments blocked (see Russia, Cuba etc.) or a merchant made bankrupt because it doesn’t agree with company ideals.

I’d fully support a secondary network like Canada’s Interac or Australia’s EFTPOS that don’t rely on foreign companies to process domestic payments (of course these cards can be co-branded for foreign payments). The LINK network would have been ideal but its now owned by MasterCard.


Card payment networks should be run by the central banks. Just like I can do a SEPA transfer and its processed by the ECB and I can wire money to any Eurozone bank, a similar mechanism should exist for card processing.

It’s a shame that the EU has abandoned the idea of creating a competing international card scheme.

That way, card processing would be totally agnostic when it comes to politics or legal activities that a private company may not like. And fundamentally I don’t think card processing should be a for profit endeavour due to the perverse incentives involved. A merchant wants to pay low fees, banks want to issue cards that pay them the most fees and cardholders choose what card to pay with completely detached from all of that