African betting needs to move from its dependence on mobile money

The management of effective payment services has long been maintained as the critical discipline for betting operators servicing Africa’s unique market-by-market challenges.

Expert insights detailed at the SBC Digital Summit Africa outlined that betting incumbents should prepare for new compliance demands, as all African markets will yet again be disrupted by rapid consumer changes and distinct technology take-ups.   

“Not to generalise but African payment foundations have been established on mobile money services – where your mobile phone number functions as a light bank account,” said Mark Tipping, CEO of Gaming4Africa.com.

Widely recognised for having disrupted end-to-end consumer engagements across all African markets, Tipping explained that consumers, government, banks and businesses are aware of mobile money limitations as the underlying technology driving modern consumption; in fact, Africa is ready for its next paradigm shift in payment transactions.  

“Being the product owners of mobile money, Africa’s telcos have aggressively pushed the take-up of mobile money, essentially becoming bigger than the banks,” he added. “It has therefore become impossible to do anything in the online space, without having access to these teleco based payment services.”

However, Tipping underlined that although mobile money remains an ‘effective but blunt transactional tool’, they have limited African consumers who further stifled digital business with hard ‘localised integrations’.

Konfambet CEO Tunde Aremu observed that domestic businesses have begun to branch-out beyond mobile money options, with the government encouraging businesses to adopt safer Fintech and traditional payment options.

Observing on-the-ground trends, Aremu said: “Nigerian consumers always had their reservations about using traditional online payment services such as e-wallets, being widely mistrusted.

“However as people have become more open to online businesses,  we now see that customers want to use more secure options and will pay through card or e-wallet options.”

Reacting to consumer change, Aremu noted that Konfambet and other bookmakers have integrated card carrier services such as Paystack Flutterwave and InterSwitch, thus providing new competition to the teleco-based payment services.

Aremu noted further critical developments with the Nigeria government pressuring local banks to radically improve their online payment services made available to digital enterprises.    

Discussions then turned to Africa’s ever-present debate of tackling fraud, in which Tipping acknowledged that betting incumbents should look to move away from mobile money services ‘in which a phone number has become the main security variable’.

He said: “When it comes to mobile money, the risks are really visible around account abuse, rather than financial transactions. Mobile money allows for instant withdrawals, without bookmaker verifications, this has led to mass bonus abuse even for very small amounts.”

Candice Moodley, Finance Manager for Gbets Online, warned that whilst African bookmakers are pressured to amplify their payment options, they could be suspected of sophisticated forms of fraud beyond bonus abuse.

Speaking from experience, Moodley advised African operators to review their payment and KYC frameworks with regards to better ‘automating functions and spotting early detections of fraud’.   

Working within South Africa and Mozambique, Moodley underlined that ‘African consumers are no different, and want to be serviced in the most seamless and convenient way’.

She underscored that bookmakers have now become swamped by African payment providers, all offering near-zero prices to integrate their services – but little in the way of innovation or security forming trusted partnerships. 

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