In the sixth edition of its Global Gaming Payments Report, Worldpay has rounded up the top trends revolutionising the industry. Covering everything from the new era of crypto and embedded finance to fraud and emerging markets, the report accumulates the industry’s top opinions in more than 40 key markets.
In an unprecedented era of turbulence where the world has tackled a global pandemic, huge technological changes and economic crises, everything is having to adapt quicker than ever before. So how exactly has the payments industry kept up with these ever-changing elements and evolved into a digital-first ecosystem?
Cryptocurrency: the good, the bad and the cryptic
It’s difficult to go anywhere without hearing about cryptocurrency, whether it’s Bitcoin, Ethereum or Kraken. Requiring no currency conversion, crypto is now one of the fastest ways to move funds across the world in a matter of seconds, and for a fraction of the cost associated with traditional methods such as wire transfers.
Whether in the form of direct trading or future transfer, crypto’s decentralised system has drawn in consumers from far and wide, with the WorldPay report showing that, globally, crypto usage at online casinos that exclusively accept crypto has grown by 116%. It is becoming such a popular form of investing that mainstream brokers are beginning to accept crypto trades.
And it’s clear there is an appetite from consumers to gamble using digital coins and cryptocurrencies as well. While it’s seemingly popular, Morgan-Moodie says that the volumes we are seeing – although rising – are not currently an existential threat to conventional payment methods. The curveball is, however, that a vast number of crypto-only operators are unlicensed and unregulated.
As Morgan-Moodie explains, “The industry has traditionally been good at presenting a united front in the face of the threat from black market operations and this should continue now. Regulation of cryptocurrencies at a macro-level (i.e. governments) will have to happen before we’ll see mass adoption by consumers irrespective of which industry we are talking about.
“However, as a point of differentiation for operators, there are opportunities now to accept pay-by-crypto solutions that do not require operators to hold crypto coins. This is achieved by exchanging them to fiat currency at the point of deposit, which regulators are starting to understand and permit in certain jurisdictions.” The report found that 60% of central banks are considering issuing a stable cryptocurrency in the future, and Morgan-Moodie thinks this could become mainstream sooner than we think.
There clearly needs to be a distinction made between the growth in crypto-only casinos and the opportunity presented to the industry through crypto acceptance in the future, which leads us on to the challenge of increased fraudulent activity.
The report states that there has been an increase of up to 50% in digital fraud levels from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022 in the gaming industry. Is this purely down to the increase in online gambling and the newly regulated markets or is it due to a lack of protective technology?
Morgan-Moodie says the data suggests it’s the latter, with fraudsters becoming more sophisticated across all manner of industries. The world is shifting to online services, which means more transactions and more data are readily available and subsequently, readily hackable.
For gaming, there is a sense this is exacerbated by the perks of play; from bonus abuse to lucrative sign-up perks, some of the small ‘wins’ are seen as easy money for what Morgan-Moodie calls the “friendly fraudsters”.
“All of this provides the impetus for the development of ever more sophisticated fraud prevention technologies,” he explains.
“Operators themselves often have large and sophisticated fraud solutions involving various monitoring tools and expert teams that understand how to identify fraud and, increasingly, predict when fraud may happen before it even occurs.”
At Worldpay, the team has been developing tools and solutions to provide more exclusive data points in a bid to help operators prevent fraud.
“We have seen huge success in the sector with our Fraudsight tool, which uses machine learning to review the billions of transactions Worldpay is processing per annum and continuously update a set of configurable fraud rules for operators to help flag and prevent fraud, providing yet another layer of protection.”
Currently, 60 markets have a live, real-time payments infrastructure – that’s almost three-quarters of the world’s population (72%) having access to instant payments.
With the US and Europe as the global epayment dominators, other countries are starting to follow the trend.
The report gives a great insight into which key territories we should be watching out for, and with a forecasted CAGR of 29%, Brazil is set to be one of the more popular markets for online betting post-election.
Morgan-Moodie says this is an exciting progression for the global market and with the World Cup centre stage, it isn’t hard to see why they’re climbing to the top.
“This is a football-mad country and there is already a large, unregulated market where Brazilians enthusiastically bet on the sport. The regulations themselves have been on the statute for several years now and now may be the right moment, politically speaking, to finally bring them into effect.
“Regulation provides certainty, the ability for operators to invest in the market and, most importantly, to provide a safe environment where consumers can bet responsibly. At Worldpay, we are preparing to support those brands that obtain licences with a full suite of localised payment options once regulation becomes clear.
Africa is another big talking point in the industry at the moment, with Nigeria a front runner, and Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa the next exciting markets.
However, Morgan-Moodie makes a strong case: despite parts of Africa being highly regulated, there is still a huge lack of education for larger, international operators on how to conduct business in each country.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of investments, joint ventures and partnerships, not just in Nigeria but in other African countries where regulation exists. For that reason, including it in the report seemed logical since it’s clearly a market to watch in the future!”
What’s the way in?
Anyone in the industry knows the key to success is understanding that each country works differently and, most importantly, knowing what makes particular consumers tick.
At Worldpay, they understand that localised payments solutions are crucial for any operator looking to expand, whether that’s across the world or in the country next door.
“Our report goes into the key payment trends in Nigeria specifically – and there is a nuance there that operators looking to expand should consider – however, we are also looking at the continent more strategically through our partnership with Flutterwave, a regional payment provider there, and looking to support operators across multiple industries with their expansion into Africa because of that.”
Pix: the payment system paving the way?
Pix is a great example of where the introduction of new payment technologies in emerging markets is done correctly.
As we know, a consequence of living in an increasingly digital world is that consumers expect things to happen immediately – and Pix seems to have succeeded in this field. In collaboration with Brazil’s Central Bank, Pix is an example of a solution that takes advantage of open banking regulations while increasing transparency and allowing consumers to make payments directly from their bank accounts.
“The benefits to consumers in terms of speed and efficiency also apply to operators that support it, with the added benefit of lower cost and vastly lower risk of a chargeback. Any operator considering a launch in Brazil should ensure they have Pix available to their consumers.”
Key findings: why is the lottery on top?
Arguably one of the most surprising findings in the report is that online growth for the lottery is projected to be higher than any other gaming vertical at 13% CAGR between 2021 and 2026.
With other verticals falling slightly behind, operators are looking to the market to see where else they can replicate this success, and Morgan-Moodie suggests that societal views play a big part in this.
“I think that lottery holds a different place in the minds of the average consumer and, certainly to Gen X and upwards, it is seen as a more socially acceptable form of gambling.
“Lottery is also more universally regulated in countries around the globe. With that said, even we were surprised by that [13%] figure! I think the truth is that proper regulation drives growth, and so as more governments seek to regulate different forms of gambling, they will be able to grow.”
The industry has never faced so much opportunity, and as a result, so much competition. Morgan-Moodie emphasises that a proper strategy for payments can be a significant revenue accelerator, and this starts with localisation.
“Offering industry-leading payment methods, coupled with value-added solutions to tokenise payment instruments, predict and manage chargebacks and fraud, and provide data insights to drive increased approval rates and increased profitability for operators, are just some of the reasons why Worldpay plays such a pivotal role in the gambling industry, and why I love to work here!”
2021 witnessed strong global ecommerce growth of 14% year on year. And with Worldpay concluding that “the sum of bets in digital coins in Q1 2022 more than doubled from 2021” it’s inevitable that this rate is only set to continue.
The future for payments is undeniably looking bright, with more markets regulating and innovations in payment technologies enabling more consumers to have fast and safe access to the games they enjoy.
Alex Morgan-Moodie is senior director of vertical growth at Worldpay. He has over 11 years experience in the payments sector, working with Rational Group, Amaya, the Stars Group and Worldpay.
His current role as senior director of vertical growth involves key focus on the gaming and digital verticals, leading a team responsible for Worldpay’s strategy and verticalised go-to-market in the Gaming and Digital (IT & Software, Media Publishing & Streaming, Video Games, Ed Tech, Dating) sectors.