Tech, Regulation, and Benchmarking iGaming, Interview with Sara Björk-Södergård, CPO, Paf

Benchmarking our industry against others is an important way to ensure we continue to grow. Comparing iGaming’s capabilities to industries such as Insurance or Financial services helps us, as a community, to highlight the areas in need of improvement in order to remain competitive.

In part 2 of our catch up with Sara Björk-Södergård, Chief Product Officer at Paf, she tells us just how big the difference is between gaming and other industries, its relationship with regulation and what we can do to close the tech gap going forward.

In terms of innovation in user experience and consumer data management, other industries such as insurance and finance are seen as leaders. How big is the gap and what can the iGaming industry do to close the gap going forward?

“Understanding and working on reducing customer perceived friction is a must. There are plenty of options out there and the threshold for customers to go somewhere else if your service is not good enough is low.

If you are operating in regulated markets, competing with bonuses is more difficult than it used to be. We must compete with customer experience. Onboarding, payments and identification are key areas. Having a superior experience in those will put you ahead.

But how can we make those smoother and more secure?

PSD2 and Open Banking bring new opportunities to improve in these areas. We must follow what the fintechs are doing.

Covid-19 has increased the usage of mobile banking and digital services in general. I believe this will lead to new disruptive services hence new opportunities for us as an industry.

We must understand how we can utilise new innovations to our advantage and cooperate to achieve something superior.

The customer expectation on speed has changed a lot over the past few years, everything is faster. Everyone’s patience is getting shorter. A few seconds used to be accepted as instant. But we don’t even have seconds anymore, to deliver before customers believe something is wrong with the service.

To improve the experience, and in the end the bottom line, we need to understand customer behaviour and where the pain points are. We must collect, process and analyse real-time data and then react fast in order to make changes.

There’s plenty of room for improvement in this really interesting area. There is no general industry gap. The gap to other industries differs only between the best in class and those not as good.

We must look at what other companies are doing, not just in the gambling industry, but in other industries as well. Look what the best ones are doing and try to take it one step further. We can all help each other to get better.”

How big of a role does regulation play in enabling operators to reach their full technological capabilities? How can we as an industry try to improve this in the future?

“Regulations are seldom there to hinder us from making technical improvements. We can always improve the product offering, relevance and the user experience, although more challenging.

That being said, the biggest problem with hard regulations is that they can push customers to the unlicensed operators if we are not able to give customers what they are looking for; a fun and exciting experience.

We can understand why regulators take away the possibilities of bonuses and VIP campaigns, designed to promote extensive gambling. These kinds of features are problematic for problem gamblers hence they should be restricted.

However, when regulators go too far, licensed operators risk becoming dull and boring in the eyes of the customers. So we really do need to find common ground here and work together with the regulators so that we can keep the offering and campaign designs exciting within the framework of the local market regulations.

This can be done in different ways. One of the easier ways of doing it would be to implement national loss limits.

With a national loss limit in place, authorities and regulators would be able to decide how much a person is allowed to gamble during a year. Then the question of campaign designs, new exciting gaming features and so on, would more or less be taken out of the picture.”

Editor’s Note: To recap, it appears Sarah believes that the real challenge for us as an industry is not in keeping up with other industries but rather more based on our own ability to minimise customer perceived friction.

Competing with bonuses should no longer be the focus, we need to make more use of opportunities such as PSD2 and open banking technology.

It seems Fintech will be the key to iGaming’s future success and working alongside regulators to find a ‘common ground’ with concepts such national loss limits that will actually give the industry more freedom to operate without fear of non-compliance, which can often be a great stifler to our continual growth.

 

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