SBC News TMT Analysis: utilising data to solve operational pain points

TMT Analysis: utilising data to solve operational pain points

There are many risk and compliance issues currently being faced by the gaming and gambling industry. Most stem from the ability to know who a customer truly is at the point of onboarding and the life cycle of their relationship with an operator. Are they who they say they are? Are they old enough? How can I protect myself from fraud? Are my customers where I think they are?  

Added to this is a whole raft of new and proposed legislation in the US and UK including last year’s UK Gambling Act white paper.  

One thing gaming and gambling companies can do to protect themselves and their customers is look  towards using alternative data sources, including live telco and mobile data.  

Industry consultant Bill South sits down with one such company in this space, TMT Analysis, and discusses some of these points with its Co-Founder Fergal Parkinson.  

Bill South: First of all, thanks for the opportunity to have a chat about something that I am sure not a lot of people within gaming and gambling know about. Talk to me about why alternative data is important and how you are helping businesses in gaming and gambling.  

Fergal Parkinson: Thanks Bill. The increasing use of alternative data to solve issues or problems across all businesses is something we have been seeing for a while now.

Alternative data is basically information and  intelligence which is derived from non-traditional sources. Information on customers has generally always been available from the likes of credit reference agencies, electoral rolls and banks but increasingly companies are looking beyond these to other sources as a means of saving money, reducing friction and getting better results.  

TMT is a specialist in the use of global telco and device level data. Everyone now has a smartphone, and we are connected to almost every mobile network operator globally and so can provide our customers with live and entirely accurate information about subscribers based on their mobile number.

In fact, we can provide information on every mobile number in the world. Our services are used billions of times every month to verify someone at the point of onboarding and provides a  snapshot of someone right now, so not in the past like traditional data sources like credit reference  agencies.

This is a great use of alternative data and is typically cheaper and often more accurate than many of the traditional data sources out there.  

BS: How is your data being used to solve many of the problems faced within gaming and gambling? 

FP: Access to gaming and gambling services are now increasingly secured digitally, particularly using  mobile phones. Unlike face-to-face interactions this involves communicating and making a judgement over a digital divide so there are three fundamental questions gaming and gambling businesses are battling with – are my customers who they say they are? Are they telling the truth? Can they be trusted? And our services and data solve all three of those problems.  

Simply using a customer mobile number enables gaming and gambling companies to verify the details provided against their live telco account. We also provide richer additional information such as how long the mobile number has been active and does it have any known fraud attributes, such as a sim-swap event.

In addition, we also provide a trust score based on the mobile number in 60 countries around the world, which provides operators with a credibility rating on the mobile number provided.  

The biggest advantage however using alternative data like ours to verify the personal details of customers is that there is no friction involved. Friction is massively harmful to business and asking customers to upload driving licences or bank statements needs to be avoided, particularly when the information is available elsewhere.  

BS: So who do we know who doesn’t have a mobile phone?  

FP: Exactly! And most gaming and gambling interactions are now on a mobile, so truly understanding that mobile customer based on their mobile account information, and the device they are using, really will give businesses in this space an edge over others who are still using old ways of understanding their customers.

BS: Are you also seeing a link now between identity and fraud?  

FP: Yes, a major link. We are already seeing the convergence of the two particularly around the use of personal information stolen in large scale data breaches who use it to try and create fake accounts or take advantage of sign-up bonuses.

Onboarding is becoming increasingly important as a way of spotting fraudulent activity early, such as has the device being used been registered as lost or stolen? Has the mobile account been linked to fraud? Does the information provided match the mobile account information? Increasingly businesses in this sector are approaching identity verification and fraud prevention as part of the same thing.  

BS: Are there solutions that TMT offer which can assist with the compliance and integrity risks that the gambling industry is currently facing?  

FP: Absolutely. As well as being able to confirm the name and address match the details provided at sign-up, we are increasingly now being asked to provide age checks based on the device and the mobile number being used.

Our live telco data can in some markets confirm the date of birth provided by the customer and in others confirm that user of over 18 or 21 depending on the location. This is becoming increasingly important in many markets around the world and in fact is required in many now too.  

But trust is also a big issue in the industry too and many operators also want to know just how credible a person is at the point of sign-up or at important points in the customer journey. Which is why we have developed a product called TMT Score.

This is now available in more than 60 countries around the world and gives our customer a trustworthiness score, based on the mobile number, so they can decide whether it is someone they want to do business with, or ask for more information like a passport scan etc.  

BS: Gambling companies want to keep crime out of the industry. What are some of the solutions you can offer using mobile data to help them with this? 

FP: Synthetic fraud. The use of stolen or manufactured data to create fake identities and accounts is something which is a growing problem. Deloitte estimates that synthetic identity fraud will cost business at least £23bn in losses by 2030.  

The good news is that the tools to combat fraud already exist, which is why there is a convergence now between identity and fraud prevention. We can spot in an instant whether a mobile number is fake or virtual and can verify all the details given, including a fraud check, against a real customers real live telco account. We can even check the device associated with that account to ensure nothing raises red flags.  

As mobile operators in many markets are regulated it is impossible to create a mobile number in the same way someone can simply acquire an email in just a few clicks.

People in this space often talk  about the ‘waterfall of identity verification and safety checks’ with mobile data being at the very top  i.e. it is inexpensive and low friction compared to a full document check at onboarding which is at the bottom of the waterfall i.e. expensive and high friction. So a combination of all of these together, based on your risk appetite, should protect you against most known frauds.  

BS: How reliable is your data?  

FP: Our data is very reliable as we take it live from the mobile operators around the world.  

BS: Understandably cost is always a consideration when implementing any solutions. What value can TMTs offerings bring to this exercise?  

FP: Cost is enormously important when finding a solution that works for you. Which is why more and  more companies within gaming and gambling our turning to our live telco data as a way of verifying  and authenticating their users and the devices they are using and as a result reducing fraud.

Unlike traditional ways of onboarding customers, telco data is accurate and reliable and inexpensive. This is why an increasing number of gaming operators are using telco data as a first check at the point of onboarding and then using more traditional sources of information, like insisting a customer scan a  passport, if our information identifies any problems.

This has the advantage of ensuring the onboard is quicker, less expensive, and more importantly reduces friction.  

BS: Nobody being harmed was the mantra for the gambling industry for a long time. Debatably it seems to have shifted its position slightly. Effective self-exclusion measures have always presented operators with a challenge. Is there anything in the TMT toolkit that might help here?  

FP: Yes. We are currently working with a few self-exclusion providers to help them introduce mobile  numbers to their sign-up process which means they can validate the details being provided as well as link it to the device associated with that account.  

BS: If you were sat with the Chief Risk Officer of a major betting company now, what could TMT offer them that would help to reduce their compliance pain points?  

FP: I would simply make the point that most of their customers are using mobile, so take a mobile first  approach to identity verification and therefore fraud prevention, using a mobile specialist company like ours.

This would not only help them identify people better but would also reduce their cost and the incidence of fraud. It really is a win-win for them. I would then demonstrate exactly the information and intelligence we can provide using a live demo with their mobile number!

When we do this, they get it immediately. From ensuring the person and the device is who and what you are expecting, through to confirming someone’s age to whether there are any known fraud attributes to providing a trust score, mobile numbering intelligence really can help.  

BS: Gambling and gaming are acknowledged as remaining a fast-growing sector globally. How well is  TMT placed to support differing jurisdictional requirements? How agile are you?  

FP: We are very agile in terms of the information we can provide, and we are truly global. That is the  beauty of our business. Just one single API gives you access to our full range of datapoints, and once  approved you have access to datasets globally.  

So, whether your customers are in Birmingham or Baku, New York or New Delhi we can provide you with intelligence and information on your customers based on their mobile number.  

One thing that is growing hugely over the past few months is the request for age verification for  customers as new legislation comes into effect around the world. We spotted this trend and were very quickly able to offer it as an additional service.  

BS: What does 2024 look like for TMT. Are there any developments in the pipeline that the Gambling industry might benefit from?  

FP: 2024 is an exciting year for us as we continue to grow and offer additional data in more and more  places around the world. We’ve also acquired a competitor, Phronesis Technologies, with a footprint in the insurance and e-commerce markets, and this year we will be bringing the two businesses together under one brand, TMT ID.  

We are continuing to roll out new and exciting products like TMT Authenticate which will help app based operators within gaming and gambling verify their customers and their devices at the point of  login and does away with the need for a one-time password or two factor authentication. Frictionless, secure, accurate, fraud free onboarding and login for our customers is where our focus  is in 2024.  

BS: Finally, are you a punter yourself and if so, how do you get on?  

FP: Ha! Yes, I do like a flutter but not a serious gambler! The reason I wanted TMT to work within gaming and gambling is because it is partly in my blood, my grandfather’s family were bookmakers. 

His idea of a day out with me was a trip to the St Ledger or a visit to a local point to point at the weekend. My father too is very interested in horseracing as he grew up just around the corner from the Curragh.

I understand deeply many of the issues keeping those responsible for risk and compliance within gaming and gambling awake at night and really hope we can provide a few more  hours of rest for them going forward! 

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