Mazooma’s PASPA driven product roadmap gets mobile focus

Having honed its online banking verification technology for online gamers, Mazooma is meeting the sports betting demand through mobile optimisation, which includes a single-click deposit option for repeat users aimed at improving the in-game experience.

We caught up with Mazooma’s recently appointed CEO Justin Ferrabee, who explained the company’s increased mobile emphasis, before outlining how its ability to pull real-time data can provide a bank-level financial snapshot of a customer which – when aligned with wagering frequency – can throw up the right red flags for problem gamblers.

PE: Mazooma has operated ‘verified US payments’ since 2009; how has your product portfolio changed since the repeal of PASPA? 

JF: The repeal of PASPA has definitely influenced Mazooma’s product roadmap.

Priorities for sports betting operators and players differ a bit from traditional igaming, and we needed to adjust our focus to ensure we’re addressing the needs of this burgeoning market. 

We’ve put a lot of effort into optimizing our payment products for mobile, for example, because nearly 70 per cent of our sports betting volume comes from players using a mobile device.

Our single-click deposit option for repeat users, eCheck Select Xpress, was specifically designed to improve the in-game betting experience for sports wagering. 

PE: From your experience within the US payments space, what do operators now want in terms of ‘player verification capabilities’? 

JF: Operators are actively doing everything possible to ensure the safety and security of their players, especially their personal and financial data, and payment providers are expected to play a significant role in this objective. 

One capability that is paramount for payment providers is the ability to link a bank account to a customer to verify that the customer attempting to use a particular bank account for payment is actually the owner of that account. 

Mazooma does this by having customers sign in to online banking as part of a transaction, which confirms customers’ bank account ownership and access in order to eliminate fraud on deposit and withdrawal. 

PE: How can operators work with companies such as Mazooma to make the best use of customer and transaction data? 

JF: Data is becoming increasingly important to operators, and Mazooma’s ability to pull customers’ real-time bank data (as opposed to static data) is extremely valuable. 

We can essentially provide a bank-level financial snapshot of a customer, which gives operators more insight into their customers and enables them to customize experiences accordingly. For example, with tailored marketing campaigns, incentives, or exclusive VIP treatment. 

Operators can also work with Mazooma on responsible gaming initiatives, using the data we are able to capture to ensure that players’ financial profile aligns with the frequency and amounts they are wagering, and monitoring for red flags indicative of problem gambling. 

PE: Where do you think European technology incumbents are blind-sided with regards to US payment provisions? 

JF: The US payments landscape is dramatically different from Europe’s, so it is understandable that operators feel a bit overwhelmed when they enter the market. 

European operators are accustomed to jurisdictions where there are only 5-10 banks, which is a stark contrast to the more than 10,000 financial institutions in the US. Europe also has real-time funds clearing networks, which don’t exist in the US. 

Credit cards are also not as prevalent in Europe as they are in the US, so operators entering the market encounter low credit card acceptance rates in a country where credit cards are by far the most predominant way payments are made in mainstream ecommerce. 

Finally, the US doesn’t have national, centralized regulations across the entire country – everything is done state by state, so entering the US market is essentially like entering 50 different jurisdictions. 

European operators are best served working with a payments provider like Mazooma who has extensive igaming experience in the US, 100 percent bank support, the technology and processes in place to manage the risk of a non real-time clearing channel, and the required licenses and regulatory framework in place to ensure compliance across the country. 

PE: What role, if any, should payment providers have in developing a ‘safer gambling agenda’ for the burgeoning US market? 

JF: Creating and maintaining a safe gambling environment in the US should be a top priority for every participant in the ecosystem. For payments providers in particular, safeguarding players and their personal and financial data must be prioritized above anything else. 

Mazooma’s mandate is to grow and innovate but never at the expense of safety and security. Compliance is a significant and comprehensive part of our business. 

State money transmitter licenses, FINCEN registration, gaming service provider licenses, financial audits, and audits of our Anti Money Laundering (AML), security, and ACH programs are not seen as a burden; they are an integral part of delivering our solutions and a barrier to entry for competitors. 

As far as safety from a financial debt or problem gaming perspective, we are starting to see regulations on this front designed to protect players and establish a safer gambling environment. 

Tennessee, for example, will not allow deposits to be made using credit cards when igaming launches in the state.

This will ensure that, as with Mazooma’s bank-based products, players will only be able to use funds they actually have for online wagering. 

PE: How do you think the industry will evolve over the next 12-18 months? And what does Mazooma need to do to fit into this ecosystem? 

JF: State expansion will continue to be a top priority for our operators over the next 12-18 months, and Mazooma will be invaluable to our clients by ensuring that their launches into additional states are completely seamless. That includes having our contracts and licensing in order as well as bolstering our products to guarantee optimal performance in each jurisdiction. 

Mazooma will keep simplifying payments at all organizational touch points – e.g. product, finance, operations and merchant support – so that operators don’t even have to think about payments, and can instead focus on their core businesses and driving players in new states to their platforms. 

In addition to state expansion, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has announced plans to regulate online gaming and sports betting.

When this happens, Mazooma will provide operators access to the Canadian market through their existing integrations.