Building customer loyalty through payment tech

August 23, 2023 7:54 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
August 23, 2023 7:54 PM

As the Ontario sports-betting market becomes more competitive, operators are looking for ways to differentiate themselves and maintain player loyalty.

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A smooth payment experience is key to that. After all, it gets real as soon as the player clicks the link and starts betting. The operator is starting to touch personal bank accounts. That’s when the real partnership with the player begins.

“[Payment technology] definitely improves the whole player experience and retention, because it directly affects the perception of the platform or the operator,” said Tejinder Kumar, chief commercial officer, Finixio, speaking at the Canadian Gaming Summit in June. “So having the seamless experience, like the speed of the transaction, just making sure everything is transparent and the withdrawal process is user friendly, that can really increase client retention and can actually, in turn, give you some word-of-mouth benefit as well, because if one person likes it, that person will tell a friend.”

The quality of their payment platform was key to the bump theScore Bet received when they officially segued from a TV station to a sports-betting platform, with a legion of loyal customers who jumped over to theScore Bet when it went live in April 2022.

“If [payment processing] had gone really badly, they could have said theScore is good at sports data, but not so much at sports betting,” said Majed Assa, senior product manager of theScore. That early momentum for the sports-betting platform after moving people over from the database, having been a TV property for decades, would have been lost.

Many people are coming to sports betting for the first time.

“That first experience can make or break whether they just stay a sports fan or they come back a second time [to bet], then come back time and time again,” Assa said.

Does product differentiation come down to the smoothest player experience from a payment perspective or choice of payments?

“From the retail experience, we definitely believe that there’s a customer that will always look for a way to pay with cash,” said Tiffany Sadler, marketing director of SUZOHAPP. “That customer still needs to be served. So having a choice of payments, whether that be crypto, cash, debit, or credit, is important. And being able to facilitate cash allows for that experimenter, that newcomer to the industry who might be in the sports bar, in the sports book, allowing them to take that chance, not make it a cumbersome experience and again, turn them from a sports fan into a sports bettor.”

Assa says the proprietary tech stack at theScore Bet gives them an advantage, both in terms of offering new payment methods that customers want and offering new markets, which overall allows them to faster respond. Those client experiences over time build up customer loyalty. “Everything comes down to operational excellence.”

Sports betting is an “in-the-moment” business, so the ability for people to be able to get to their funds, either through payments or payouts, is critical.

“And the quicker and most effective and recognized process they can all look at is really what’s going to have them coming back time and time again,” said Cheryl-Lynn Burns, director, Gaming Canada, Trustly.

If an operator has just a one-size-fits-all approach to payment tech, it will work to an extent, though the operator isn’t going to stand out, the panel agreed.

But as Burns added, there’s an expense to maintaining many payment options for your client base and operators are constantly having to weigh the cost effectiveness of payment options against what their customers are truly demanding. The more payment options you have, the more opportunities you have for something to break, Sadler noted.

Said Andrew Crowe, SVP investor relations and growth initiatives at Sightline, “Payments are often an afterthought to online and casino operators, a standard service to be managed via a traditional procurement process. However, reducing the friction and cost for a consumer to get money into the gaming ecosystem is a critical part of the overall entertainment experience, whether online or on property.

“The Sightline philosophy is that loyalty and payments should follow a player seamlessly, across all verticals and channels, including non-gaming activity and off-property spend. Sightline offers a unique, omnichannel, payment solution that is seamlessly integrated with a player’s experience, whether they’re engaged in online gaming, visiting a casino, or making purchases outside the gaming environment. This supports the casino’s brand and loyalty across all of these touchpoints and provides valuable visibility into player behavior on and off property.”