The iGaming industry has experienced significant growth and transformation over recent years. In the United States, a number of states have already legalised iGaming, and more are set to follow suit, representing a quickly growing and lucrative market. Elsewhere, in Europe, the online gaming gross revenue in Europe reached €32.2bn in 2022, which was up from 8% in 2019 and this rising trajectory is expected to continue in the coming years.
Against this backdrop, iGaming payments are becoming ever more important and exciting. The seamless processing of payment transactions is crucial to providing a positive user experience. From the role of AI to the Metaverse to the evolving regulations, the iGaming payments space is required to be both innovative and agile.
To get to grips with the exciting developments, we sat down with Desislava Stranska, our Senior Sales and Business Development Manager, who gave her expert opinion on the payment landscape of iGaming.
Q: What regulatory changes across the world have most caught your attention in 2023?
Desislava: “The regulatory environment is rapidly evolving all around the globe. The most meaningful changes this year are the increased focus on local licensing and the shrinking of unregulated markets. For example, we have witnessed the rise of the Ontario, Massachusetts, and Puerto Rico iGaming licenses. The North American market in general bears unlimited market potential and each new license has the potential to facilitate one of the biggest iGaming markets in the world.
“Elsewhere, the most recent changes in the Curacao license and tightening regime for all license-holder operators are paving the way to becoming a more reputable jurisdiction serviced by more banks and payment service providers.
“Whatever the future holds, gaming and betting regulators are likely to follow in the footsteps of other industries, where offshore jurisdictions have to play by the rules, bending the rules is simply not a viable option.”
Q: How have you seen payment fraud evolve in this sector this year?
Desislava: “The mitigation of payment fraud has always been one of the cornerstones in the ecosystem. Areas such as Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), which aims to reduce different types of fraud, are constantly subject to new developments. For example, with the onset of the 6th AML directive, we may expect the scope of the new tight regulations to broaden even further, spreading over more offences and harmful behaviour.
“This year is no exception to the continual evolution of payment fraud. We saw a greater focus on transaction monitoring, an increase in the rigour of Know Your Customer (KYC) and Know Your Business (KYB) regulations, an enhancement of transactional screening across sanctions lists, and much, much more.
“We are witnessing increasingly advanced tools and algorithms for identifying and tracking customer behaviour, including in iGaming, Watch List screenings, and enhanced checks across the dark web for, e.g., blockchain transactions.”
“The PSD3 legislation is setting new standards for everyone in the payment ecosystem, from initiation to payouts to collection. With the rise of the Metaverse and Web3 projects, new risk threats are coming to light and new prevention tools need to be deployed to fight, for example, account takeover and identity steals.”
Q: How is AI coming into play in iGaming customer services and payments?
Desislava: “The AI-powered solutions and tools are creating a positive impact for gaming companies. This is particularly perceivable in terms of enhancing customer support and retention. AI is supporting companies to offer personalised content and in-app offerings through virtual assistants or chatbots, therefore shifting these companies towards omnichannel marketing.
“From a more payments perspective, AI is capable of streamlining payment processes by automating transaction monitoring and fraud detection, among others. AI-driven risk assessment models can identify high-risk transactions and users, allowing operators to take necessary precautions.
“A robust AI-powered suite can significantly enhance the overall user experience, and this is being increasingly recognised by a huge number of iGaming companies.”
Q: What will iGaming in the Metaverse look like?
Desislava: “One of the key takeaways from the latest iGaming industry conferences, summits and expos is the rising popularity of games in social media, for example, Telegram games. However, the horizon is expanding from Telegram to Metaverse and Crypto games.
“Metaverse games provide unparalleled in-gaming experience with players being able to trade assets or sell items to fellow games, transfer equipment or anything else with the ownership governed by NFT regulations.
“The decentralised nature of Metaverse gaming leaves room for interoperability, which alongside the transferrable ownership, advanced blockchain technology, and immersive gameplay, indicates that the Metaverse has a lot to offer.
“Furthermore, the chance to interact with a broader audience will undoubtedly result in more engaging content and higher ROIs.”
Q: How can payment technology help iGaming businesses operate responsibly?
Desislava: “The proactive approach towards increased security in payments will ultimately result in enhancing responsible gaming. A reliable payment setup is completely geared towards empowering players, and the sector as a whole, to promote responsible gaming where the customer has significant control over what is happening, and customer funds are kept well protected.
“Payment technologies provide valuable insights into customer behaviour, equipping the operators to track any deviational patterns as they occur. By leveraging payment data and monitoring transactions, operators are able to prevent harmful behaviour. AI is increasingly supporting this capability.
“Payment technology can and should be utilised to trigger multiple alerts for the operators and the payment processors building this additional layer of security.
“Harnessing payment technologies to protect clients’ funds and reduce harmful behaviours produces a synergy that will significantly improve the responsibility of the sector.”
Amid the rapid evolution of iGaming markets, the realm of iGaming payments assumes increasing significance, necessitating innovation and adaptability to ensure a seamless user experience. The proactive integration of technology and compliance measures will be crucial in shaping the future of iGaming. The interplay of AI, regulations and payment technologies promises to enhance the industry’s ability to provide a safe, secure, and enjoyable gaming experience while embracing the opportunities presented by the Metaverse and emerging local markets.