There has been a bit of a delay in getting this latest post out. I doubt any of you noticed, given how sporadic, or should I say non-existent they were for a while. The challenge this time was technical!
It was not the technical challenge you would commonly expect with a website. Everything here seems to be going rather smoothly (although perhaps I have jinxed it!). It resulted from some further changes to get our operations in line with our philosophy.
What Needed Changing?
As you may recall, during our hiatus, we spent a bit of time looking at who we were spending our money with and what they were doing with it. The thing is, we need to go a bit further. In our previous blog post, we hit on a few areas that are very much against the SNGLRTY ethos. Regardless of the impact on our business, we wanted to act for the long-term benefit of everyone rather than take a short-term approach merely for ourselves.
Our next step was to look critically at our other vendors, especially the larger ones that are abusing their market position. We did not have to look very far to find a miscreant. And of course, it came from the world of banking and payments. No other than PayPal!
Outrageous Terms & Conditions
We have had PayPal on our website for a while. PayPal started as the upstart payment processor. An efficient way to transfer money and do business on eBay. Just as Google seems to have lost its way a bit (remember “Do Not Harm”?), PayPal has, over the last few years, used its size and influence to seek to control actions and activities that we believe should be the sole preserve of each individual. And that is what we are about here SNGLRTY, celebrating every individual.
So what has PayPal been up to that made us upset? Well this is what they said when they shut down the account of Wikileaks, “Paypal cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.” Now I accept that companies should not support illegal activity, but how do we define illegal activity? And who should be the arbiter?
The Thin Blue Line
The immediate reaction is that that is a silly question to ask. It is obvious what is illegal. Do not hurt people, do not steal do not commit murder. The problem is things are so much more nuanced today. For some people, Wikileaks is the most dangerous website in the world, for others, it is a bastion of freedom. At the end of the day, what Wikileaks do is bring information into the public domain.
Governments argue that they need some activities to operate in secret. Fair enough, let the arguments commence and let it happen in an open forum. That is why we have the courts.
It should certainly not be up to the likes of PayPal to decide before the courts have had the opportunity to consider the situation, whether someone may be breaking the law or not.
Has This Happened?
There is one particular event that has highlighted the horrible result of acting ahead of the full debate. Especially when it comes to payments and an individual’s freedom to spend or give their money as they see fit. The Canadian truckers arranged a massive protest against government vaccine mandates. The Canadian government was not happy about that so they used the banking system to track down and freeze the bank accounts of everyone who had donated money to support the trackers’ protest.
Fast forward a year or so and, after due process, the courts have adjudicated that the truckers’ protesters were legal. Furthermore, it was the Government’s use of the banking system to penalize individuals’ rights that was illegal. Funny that. For some reason the Government seems to be able to do this with impunity.
In addition, no one in the banking system who helped the Government with its extra-legal tactics is being penalized. Yet, many who had their bank accounts frozen are still fighting to access their bank accounts and get their money back.
What Of PayPal?
As far as I can see, PayPal was not directly involved in the Canadian Truckers mele. It does, however, highlight what can transpire when industry and government collude against the individual. And boy, does PayPal want to have leverage over anyone who uses their services.
Last year, in a rewrite of their terms and conditions PayPal took the liberty to make it possible for them to fine users US$2,500 if they decided that a user had spread “misinformation.” Now we have to work out what misinformation is. From what I can ascertain, it was going to be pretty much anything PayPal did not like. Quite possibly even the content of this blog post.
So do we have a payment processor setting itself up as judge, jury, and executioner on what people can say? If you cross them, you will lose access to the money in your account, and possibly more. That does not sound like a company that supports freedom of speech. We are all allowed to be wrong, we are all allowed to make mistakes, and it is certainly not up to the likes of PayPal to judge our actions or our words as a corporate behemoth. That is what other individuals should do in society. Or at least that is how I think it should work.
And to add insult to injury, PayPal had given itself the authority just to take the fine from your bank account if it was linked to your PayPal account. This sent the internet into a frenzy and the policy was rolled back very quickly. But why did they ever think it was acceptable? That they even penned such a policy and published it sends a shiver down my back. Even David Marcus, a former President of PayPal, said the policy “goes against everything I believe in.” I am glad he agrees with me.
My first action was to close my own PayPal account. I am sorry, but those terms and conditions shook my trust in PayPal. What about SNGLRTY? That took a little longer. Specifically, until this week, when PayPal was removed as a payment option from our website.
I did not just want to remove PayPal, I wanted to replace it with a payment option that sets a good direction, and the new way forward for us is Crypto. We may not accept PayPal, but we do accept Crypto payments!
And that is the reason for the delay in this blog post. Setting up the crypto payment network has proven to be quite a learning curve for me. It appears I have overcome all the challenges, and we now accept a variety of crypto for payment.
In celebration of this change, which I am very excited about, we have a special offer to any fellow crypto enthusiast out there. If you purchase a watch from our website before 30 June 2023, paying with Crypto, you will receive a 25% discount. We need your help to test this new process, it is all new to us, too, so it may not be as smooth as we would wish. If you would like to take advantage of this offer, email me, and I will be delighted to help!
There are a few more changes we are looking at so that our actions and those we do business with are consistent with the SNGLRTY ethos. I hope you will continue to support us on this journey.