Bringing harm minimisation to the fore

11 November 2019

While the numbers of problem gambling have historically remained consistent at around 0.7%, the increased reach of igaming means a  higher volume of people are affected overall.

This and the variety of new channels for engagement and advertising developed in recent years have made harm minimisation a focal point of conversation in the industry, but also from external parties. As pressure ramps up from politicians and the media, operators must act quickly to develop an understanding of problem gambling and markers of harm at the earliest possible stage.

iGaming Business spoke with James Baston-Pitt, UK accounts lead at Onfido to discuss their involvement in harm minimisation, and how they are leveraging identity verification technology to tackle the challenge head-on.

Baston-Pitt says: “The industry is experiencing tighter regulatory scrutiny than ever before, with regulators responding in part to a perceived lack of advertising restraint, and to prevalent outdated processes that meant full KYC/EDD was only conducted at the end of the customer journey, once a player tried to collect winnings.”

He adds that this has resulted in a lack of faith in the industry, as well as interventions by regulatory bodies: “From a business perspective, the industry not acting quickly enough of its own accord has left us seeing large fines making waves.”

While there is a genuine appetite to raise the bar, there is no unified way forward laid out for the industry as a whole, and Baston-Pitt says closer collaboration is needed as opposed to disparate harm minimisation initiatives.

Identifying the problem

Baston-Pitt believes that identity verification has the potential to solve challenges around compliance, fraud and harm minimisation: “It’s more than just adhering to regulatory stipulations, it’s about truly knowing your customer.

“We recently met with Gamstop to explore areas where we could add value and we were in agreement, that identity is a critical component in solving the wider responsible gambling problem.”

Currently, Baston-Pitt notes an array of challenges preventing a better unified approach. For example, in most countries there is no centralised identity system, and legacy data, such as from that provided from the CRA’s , allows for significant gaps in the system. This isn’t just a problem in the UK, either - Baston-Pitt cites Sweden and Denmark as examples, where there are strong national ID systems, but this alone hasn’t solved the problem.

Other countries, such as Germany, are starting to look at document and facial biometric technology, while Spain in some circumstances is mandating document verification.

However, in order to solve the identity problem, Baston-Pitt says a much more robust underlying system is necessary to support progress: “Is it right that when data and technology - and consumer requirements - have moved on, we are still rooted in a decade long solution? We need to accept the limitations of the existing system and move forward to a new one together."

Forging a new path

In recent years, other sectors have moved on and embraced documents and biometrics with great effect. For instance, Baston-Pitt says, in challenger banking, where the technology is assisting Onfido clients such as Revolut and bunq in removing friction while also protecting against fraud, friendly or otherwise.

He adds: “Similarly, in transportation, our clients want strong security, whilst not adding so much friction they can’t grow — Drivy decreased the frequency of theft attempts by 22% since by enhancing their process with Onfido technology while also decreasing drop-off by a whopping 23%.”

However, as with many challenges this industry faces there is no silver bullet solution, and Baston-Pitt says much closer collaboration is vital to driving success: “There’s a lot of great ideas out there from operators launching responsible gambling initiatives, but the sector must work together.”

But this is not just in the UK. With growth in traditional markets slowing, opportunities, and therefore risk, is shifting to new, emerging markets such as Latin America and Africa. That comes with new challenges and there is an urgent requirement to find a process that fits the needs of each new market in line with the best practice established elsewhere.

He also feels that emerging markets and new jurisdictions have a great opportunity to start from a better place without the constraints of legacy methods, noting Africa’s mobile-first approach to this as exemplary. ‘These jurisdictions do not have access to the old style banking and identity systems that are the foundation of the more traditional markets so how we adapt our services to embrace the advantages technology brings will be critical to the success in these regions. “Working with stakeholders, especially regulators, who are grappling daily with the demands of effective regulation and player protection’ means we are fully aware of the challenges ahead and we hope to bring some of the best practice we employ elsewhere to help support the gambing sector”

Bringing customers on the journey

An important component of this transition will be how customers are factored into changes, Baston-Pitt says, will be ensuring trust and sustainability: “They have shown that they are willing to share data and information if it is willingly shared, fully verified and responsibly used, it will serve to benefit both parties.”

Customers will lead the identity revolution from a UX and friction perspective, he says, driving for seamless journeys, wider acceptance of documents and biometrics, and by trading data in a consensual, responsible and protected environment.

In addition to its services in biometrics services,  Baston-Pitt says Onfido is investing heavily in its autofill registration product, where a consumer can take a picture of their document in order to auto-populate registration fields, which reduces the number of drop-offs from repetitive data entry.

“Our autofill registration product can assess whether an application is fraudulent to 98.7% accuracy, extract the ID data and provide it directly to the operator.”

“Across the business, but especially when it comes to our product team, we are striving to use the next generation of data and technology to add in layers of safety and security that will both enhance the customer experience and increase the robustness of the identity check required. If we genuinely want to create a sustainable industry there can be no more important issue than protecting the customer. At Onfido we are doing our best to make sure we contribute to the sectors efforts in this area.”

For further insight from James Baston-Pitt and Onfido, watch our on-demand webinar today - "Identity verification: the solution to the gambling industry's most complex challenge?"