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Ronan Smith – Secure Trading – The rise of cryptocurrency

Ronan Smith, Secure Trading
Ronan Smith, Secure Trading

Just two weeks after sponsoring Betting on Football 2017 at Stamford Bridge, SBC caught up with Secure Trading Senior Account Manager Ronan Smith to discuss the evolution of mobile payments, the role of crypto-currencies and the impact of payment processing on customer acquisition.

SBC: What’s next in the mobile payment space?

RS: For Secure Trading, it’s obvious that mobile devices are fast becoming the predominant touch point for online operations, and it’s getting easier and easier as phones and tablets become more and more advanced.

The payments industry has recognised this and there are a host of new mobile-based solutions cropping up that will both challenge and complement the more traditional methods that we are already used to.

Solutions such as Funanga’s CashtoCode, a prepaid cash method, could be a game-changer. They enable users to deposit cash into their accounts via their mobiles, opening a market of customers who want deposit conveniently on the go. I’d also predict that the soon to be launched MuchBetter wallet app will create some noise.

The telecom networks, not just the device manufacturers, are also recognising the need for comprehensive payment suites and security as an added service. As these develop and customers grow more comfortable with using their debit or credit card via their phone or tablet, I believe we will see more and more payments shift towards a mobile option.

And, who knows, maybe as more devices hit the market with near field communications (NFC) technology some clever operator will find a way to utilise that for deposits.

SBC: What role will cryptocurrencies play in the future? We’ve seen several Bitcoin only operators emerge in the past year…

RS: I think everyone acknowledges now that cryptocurrencies are going to be part of everyday life, much to the chagrin and resistance of the more traditional financial institutions and card schemes. We need to accept that crypto is out there to provide an alternative means of payment.

However, like with any new phenomenon, it takes time for everyone to become accustomed with how it works. There’s a strong push by the crypto industry to educate both operators and users alike on the benefits of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and, as they improve, we will undoubtedly see more and more operations accepting it as a form of payment.

Bitcoin got a bad rap when it initially started making waves, particularly because of the perceived complete anonymity of it, its association with all things dark web and the volatility of the value; but I think the industry has done a lot to clean-up its image since then. It’s only a matter of time before it is a standard alternative across all eCommerce sectors, not just betting and gambling.

SBC: What role does payment processing play in customer acquisition and retention?

RS: Payment processing can be key to customer acquisition; it is the final stage of the initial deposit process. If the customer can’t get their funds into their gaming account, then they simply walk away and go to play elsewhere.

It also plays an important role in the “first impression” stage when a customer initially arrives at your home page. They must feel instantly comfortable. One way of doing that is by displaying recognised and reputable payment service providers, so that the player knows that they are going to be using a familiar and trusted process when transferring funds into their account.

The same is true for customer retention. It is important to make the user experience as seamless and straightforward as possible to encourage repeat deposits whilst still maintaining a high level of security. There is so much competition out there that if a player ever feels uncomfortable or that their payment information is not secure, they will take their business elsewhere.

SBC: Finally, why did you decide to get involved as a sponsor at the recent Betting on Football?

RS: Secure Trading will be focusing on the betting and gambling industry as a core sector in the future and have previously sponsored SBC events in the past, but at a much smaller level. Having seen this and other SBC events go from strength to strength over recent years, we felt that there was no time like the present to increase our association with them.