Assessing the iGaming payments landscape in the UK
Zak Cutler, President of Global Gaming at Paysafe, assesses the key trends from our 2023 ‘All the ways players pay’ research report, and what they mean for UK online sportsbook operators looking to boost acquisition and retention.
Payments are now a critical factor for UK players when deciding which online sportsbooks to wager at. This means an operator’s cashier holds the key to unlocking acquisition and retention at scale in what is a hugely competitive market.
The importance of payments for acquisition can be seen in data from our latest ‘All the ways players pay’ report, which surveyed online sports bettors in the UK plus the US and the Canadian province of Ontario, in November 2022. The research found that four out of ten UK players put quick and easy deposits as the most important factor when choosing an online betting brand.
Frictionless payouts came ahead of a sportsbook being a brand they could trust (35%), good odds (31%) and good promotional offers (31%). What’s more, the availability of their preferred payment method and quick and easy deposits were important to more than a quarter of players (26% and 27% respectively).
This makes it mission-critical for operators to offer the payment experience that players are seeking, starting with the payment methods they want to use to deposit and withdraw.
The ways players like to pay
It’s perhaps no surprise that debit card payments dominate the UK market, with 59% of players saying it is their go-to method for depositing. This is followed by bank transfers (30%) and mobile wallets (28%).
Digital wallet usage is also on the rise in the UK, with 22% of players preferring to use solutions such as Skrill and NETELLER. This is almost certainly linked to the preference for quick and easy deposits and fast payouts, with digital wallets often providing the most rapid transaction times.
This is why it’s so important for UK operators to ensure their payment stacks include a wide range of alternative payment methods (APMs). If not, they are missing out on a huge acquisition opportunity and will lose ground to their rival brands that do.
Is there still an appetite for credit card payments?
Despite the UK Gambling Commission imposing a ban on credit card payments for iGaming from April 2020, our research indicates there is still a sizable chunk of players that would deposit with a credit card if they could. One in five players would use a credit card if this were possible, according to our data.
The ban absolutely contributes to the dominance of debit cards in the UK but is also a driver of players looking to use alternative payment methods, especially if they are also seeking fast transaction times and added security.
What UK players expect from the payments experience
Our report found that over half (54%) of UK players are currently happy with the payment experience they are receiving, with just 14% saying they are dissatisfied.
But this means there are still a lot of opportunities for operators to explore to improve the experience offered and to drive acquisition and retention as a result. When it comes to retention, seven out of ten UK players say a bad experience would see them not return to the brand so it's hugely important for sportsbooks to get this right.
So exactly what do UK players expect from the payment experience?
Security is of incredibly high importance to UK players, with two-fifths saying it’s the thing they care most about when depositing into an online sports betting account. This is followed by the speed of deposit (37%) and the ease of making payment (36%).
It’s worth noting that more than half (56%) of UK players said they would not proceed with a deposit if they had concerns about the security of the payment. Furthermore, almost as many (46%) say they would put on the brakes if they felt they were required to provide too much financial information.
This is why operators must deliver the payment methods that provide the security players are seeking. Digital wallets offer higher levels of security because the player’s financial information is not shared with the sportsbook, and they also provide the ease and speed of transactions that players are seeking.
The availability of the player’s preferred payment method is just as important. Indeed, close to half (46%) of UK players said they would not proceed with a deposit if their go-to payment option was not in the cashier.
The blueprint for payments
It’s clear that payments can make a difference to a player wagering with a brand and also staying with a brand. To maximise acquisition and retention opportunities in the UK, it’s vital that operators understand player expectations and ensure they not only meet but exceed them.
The foundation of this is a payment stack that offers a wide range of traditional and alternative payment methods, while also giving players confidence in the security of transactions. Sportsbook operators that provide this, alongside seamless deposits and fast payouts, will gain the edge over their rivals.