Exploring the acceptance of digital verification

Panellists at the SBC Digital Payments event concluded that consistency can be crucial in growing the acceptance of digital verification not just within gambling industry but among other sectors.

Discussing the importance of new technologies in the modern age, industry leaders partaking in ‘The opportunity for Digital ID in a physical world’ panel analysed the details of the journey and how it can alter the way the sector operates.

Commencing the conversation, Ralph Topping, former CEO of William Hill, highlighted that digital ID should be seen as an ‘opportunity’ as opposed to an ‘issue’. Drawing on statistics that show 20 per cent of adults have no photographic ID, such as passports or driving licenses, he added that taking a ‘helicopter view’ of age verification is crucial.

“ID security codes take a lot of the hassle out of it so you can bet instantaneously,” Topping stated. “There is a linkage between the ID wallet and your account online as well so that is this almost cross-pollination I would call it, but if you switch them to online and you think about the online process, you have to open an account and you have to have these checks, and you have to be verifying who you are.

“Whereas with this system, there’s a variety of data sources and checks. You’ve got the traditional ones, which are the voters rolls and the credit references, and then you’ve got exclusive data sources, so that there’s eight sources are referenced and define and identify more people so is the success rate is up to 95 per cent, which when I was told that figure it kind of blew my mind.”

He continued: “So, you have to make sure you’re compliant, you’re regulated and you’re quickly assessed, and the good thing about the system at present is there’s no charge for the services which, again, I can’t think of anybody who’s looking to verify someone online who wouldn’t use the system because it speeds the whole process and I think the frustration for clients is huge.”

On the topic of new technologies, Simon Bazalgette, independent non-executive director and former CEO of the English Football League and The Jockey Club, emphasised that new self-service machines to be implemented at racecourses in the UK could mark a ‘transformational development’ for the industry.

He began: “I think it will make a big difference on the racecourse. The racecourses have looked at self service terminals for quite some time and certainly over the last two or three years with the changing ownership of the Tote and a closer relationship with China. It’s always been seen as an important development of the course.

“If you look in France or the US or Hong Kong, self-service terminals are a massive part of what goes on on the racecourse and how people enjoy themselves and get their bets on.”

However, the ‘family-friendly’ appeal of racecourse means that operators and organisations must ensure only those of age can utilise the services on offer.

“In the UK we haven’t been able to do it partly because the technology hasn’t yet been there,” Bazalgette noted. “I think it now is, but the biggest issue was the licence restrictions that meant that these kinds of checks had to be done in person. Therefore, they couldn’t really be self-service because you would always have to have supervision and that effectively meant it wasn’t really viable up until now.

“Effectively, this technology makes it viable. I think it opens up the opportunity to make it much easier and more attractive for people to be able to have a bet, particularly on the Tote but I think also in the fixed odds bookmakers.”

Although the sharing of information is not something that the gambling industry has been historically ‘particularly good at’, as SBC’s managing director and panel moderator Andrew McCarron pointed out, Caroline Steele, senior client director – gaming at 1account, highlighted ‘trust’ as the key word.

“It’s a big task for 1account as a digital ID provider and also the government to be able to provide a framework that’s robust enough so that it protects the users,” Steele suggested. “It’s very much about what data is stored and how it’s used and who owns it. That has to be made incredibly clear.

“But, I think with the digital ID, it allows the users to have more control. As a user, you can control what information you have stored in your ID wallet, which also gives us a better experience because, for instance, with a digital ID wallet you can buy a house or place a bet. And if you’re anything like me, and I have to prove my ID, I’m hunting for various bits of paper all over the place. So, if it’s stored there and I have control, it’s a better user experience. I can just say, ‘yes this is my ID and everything’s on there’.”