Johan Sörmling, Head of Mobile Identity at Signicat where he works alongside the technology, engineering, and sales teams to deliver secure and relevant products to its customers.
Here he shares his thoughts on engaging iGaming customers means taking away as many barriers to entry as possible
Gambling businesses, also known as iGaming businesses, work hard to differentiate from the competition. They have to—after all, betting is several millennia old, and customers are generally familiar with what they are being offered, whether it’s sports betting or casino-style games. Consumers need a good reason to choose one provider over another.
And these businesses do a pretty good job of this. As the market has moved more and more into mobile there was a risk that apps would simply offer the same thing and the industry would stagnate, and become commoditised. But new ways are being found to differentiate. This can be the brand itself, which can appeal to different demographics or special offers that attract new customers who may have never entered a high-street betting shop, to entire new spins on gambling apps—adding in social aspects, producing bespoke content, and more.
Differentiating from the competition means that these apps can focus on creating healthy relationships with their customers, both meeting the requirements of regulations and attaining regular revenue. But with mobile and online, this is about more than differentiation. It means creating the best customer experience.
Creating returning customers—safely
Unlike many other sectors, such as banking, there is no overarching regulation across Europe that specifically pertains to gambling—each country has its own country and own regulations. For example, in the UK there has been a focus on protecting vulnerable consumers, limiting the most addictive gambling practices to small wagers. The industry has signed up to a responsibility pledge and often runs campaigns to warn consumers of the risks. Belgium is stricter, Italy is more relaxed, and changes to the law are taking effect in Sweden.
When it comes to regulation not specific to the gambling sector, it’s a different story altogether. Anti-money laundering regulation demands that businesses need to follow Know Your Customer rules and ensure that they identify their customers adequately. They need to follow new Two-Factor Authentication rules, that mean transactions need to be secured adequately. Businesses may decide that their accounts need this level of authentication to log in—after all, an account with a betting service is essentially an account with a financial service.
This leaves businesses in a quandary. If this extra security and authentication results in a poor experience for the customer, then they may choose one of the many other options available. At the same time, the customer needs to not only be secure, but feel secure–it’s not enough that they are protected, they need to know that they are not at risk. They are using apps, such as for banking and shopping, that they trust. If they don’t feel as safe as in another app, they won’t waste their time with it.
A better customer experience is the best differentiator
Gambling apps need engagement to be successful—they need, in a responsible way, to encourage customers to return regularly. The most valuable customer is one who comes back time after time and is reliable and has a responsible and fun experience when betting.
However, a great many apps that are downloaded by customers are abandoned–one piece of research showed that after a month of being installed, only around 3% of apps are regularly used.
So how do betting apps avoid this fate?
Regular customer engagement only happens if it is friction-free. Banks have learned this the hard way—many customers have turned to new challenger banks as the app experience is simply better, and they are willing to take a risk on an unproven company. Consumers will engage with an app only if security doesn’t get in the way
Businesses of every kind are being encouraged to offer their customers the ability to use two-factor authentication to secure their account. If you’ve ever received a shortcode by text, or used the Google Authentication app, then you have used this type of authentication. And you have most likely been annoyed by it too—it takes you away from what you are doing, and this interruption is enough to drive customers away.
If gambling businesses want customers to both be secure and feel secure in their apps—without being irritated—-they need to start using some of the techniques that have been proven elsewhere:
- Use two-factor authentication: Consumers increasingly expect this, and many are now demanding it. Protecting your customers from fraud will mean they trust you more.
- Use secure two-factor authentication: SMS text messages are not secure—anyone can send them, and they can be used in what’s called a “man in the middle” attack to take over an account and steal what is in it.
- Use known two-factor authentication: Smart devices are smarter than ever, with face and fingerprint recognition common. Integrating these makes two-factor authentication easy for the consumer.
- Use integrated two-factor authentication: Don’t make people leave the app to continue what they are doing, whether it’s looking for a code in another app or in an SMS message. “Context switching” like this is distracting and means customers are far less likely to use the app.
All of the work done to create a differentiated experience will be for nothing if consumers are put off by the basic customer experience of opening the app and logging in. At the same time, they have much more invested in this app than in simpler entertainment apps—it may have the ability to withdraw funds from a bank account when needed, or it may hold (if you’re lucky) a substantial amount of winnings waiting for withdrawal. Consumers need to be reassured that their simple login isn’t at the expense of security
We believe that getting this part right is vital to the success of any betting or gambling app—just as much as the games available or any other aspect of the app. It is, after all, the first interaction people have. Unless it works as expected, people will look elsewhere for their entertainment.