We talk here with a passionate gaming industry professional, mainly about the risks of fraud.
Alex Morgan-Moodie, who currently holds the position of Senior Director, Vertical Growth focusing on Gaming Vertical at Worldpay, offers insightful and precise answers about various facets of fraud.
Q. We usually start with a quick bio. Our readers love it. Could you briefly narrate how you landed in the gaming industry and progressed?
A. I started in the gaming industry back in 2009 when I joined PokerStars as an analyst in the payments team. I was soon learning about payment trends and regulatory complexity from Europe to the US, Latin America and other emerging markets. From there I was hooked and after roles in product delivery and corporate development (including working on the integration of Sky Betting & Gaming into the group in 2018 and preparation for the company’s subsequent acquisition by Flutter) I moved to Worldpay to lead our global Gaming vertical strategy. The role felt made for me and I haven’t looked back. My role may have expanded since I joined, but the gaming industry remains my passion.
Q. You joined Worldpay Gaming in September 2020. Could you describe your role and responsibilities?
A. As I mentioned, my role entails defining the strategy for Worldpay’s presence in the Gaming industry together with my team. We support the commercial teams by defining our value proposition, keeping them abreast of trends and developments, and partner with our account managers to support our tier-1 customers in mid to long-range planning. We also work with Legal and Risk to explore new markets and help Product to define the gaming-specific product roadmap. Finally, we are the team that ensure Worldpay shows up at key events – ICE, G2E or our own merchant workshops for example. As you can see, it’s pretty varied but the vertical itself is hugely important to Worldpay – we’ve been supporting customers here for over 20 years and have masses of experience working within operators themselves as well as being payments partners.
Q. You are talking about global digital fraud in London ICE – especially about how digital fraud in the gaming sector increasing even while the incidence of overall global fraud shows signs of decline. What do you think are the reasons why the gaming sector seems particularly vulnerable to fraud?
A. I think the story around fraud is an interesting one because we see fraud attempts in ecommerce increasing generally across the globe, driven in part by the shift online as people have reduced their in-person spending and usage of cash, so with more transactions online, there is more data. With that said, the increase of fraud in the gaming sector appears to be driven by the competitive nature of new, emerging markets and the types of bonus offers we’ve seen, such as in the US in order to gain market share. This leads to ‘friendly fraud’ or ‘bonus abuse’ where opportunists will attempt to create several accounts in order to take advantage of multiple offers. Thankfully, operators in general manage large teams and develop bespoke tools that go some way to managing that risk – but it is certainly a drag on growth.
Q. What are the challenges and opportunities in front of gaming entrepreneurs in balancing the risk of fraud versus the need to provide an amazingly seamless end-user experience?
A. Gaming consumers are savvy and demanding, and this means their expectations around user experience are high. Seamless and real-time are the key tenets and any additional checks – whether they are regulatory requirements, for fraud or in order to protect players for safer gambling purposes – need to fit into that seamless experience as far as possible. This means identifying tools that can operate in real-time whilst minimising the need for manual intervention. Thankfully payment solutions have come a long way since I first joined the industry and we are now able to offer solutions to ensure how a player pays or withdraws winnings is seamless and real-time wherever possible – something our research tells us drives loyalty for customers, which is essential when the marketplace is as competitive as it is.
Q. Now, tell us about the recent Worldpay FIS Global Gaming Payments Report. What are the key insights from that report that explores payments habits in over 40 markets and real-time payment trends?
A. The GGPR is a much-anticipated round up of industry trends and payments information. So it’s a pleasure to be responsible for its delivery after years as an avid reader. This year, as well as the usual country profiles on key established and emerging markets in the industry, we’ve also done deep dives into trends such as the emergent fraud challenges mentioned above, as well as the opportunity presented by omnichannel gaming as users have returned to physical stores and suddenly operators want a single view of their customers across all of their physical and online stores. We also tackle the opportunities presented by improvements in virtual reality technology that will potentially give rise to gaming metaverses of the future, and our thoughts on how the industry is adapting to cryptocurrency/blockchain technology.
Q. Could you talk about the innovations and strategies Worldpay has adopted or planning to adopt to curb the growing fraud in the gaming sector?
A. At Worldpay, our role is to develop tools that augment operators’ in-house solutions and provide yet more data points to help them identify and prevent fraud. We have seen huge success in the sector with our new Fraudsight tool, which uses machine learning to review the billions of transactions Worldpay is processing per annum and continuously update a set of configurable fraud rules for operators to help flag and prevent fraud, providing yet another layer of protection. This is already in the market with significant adoption in the gambling industry, and we’re continuing to find innovative ways of curbing fraud in the gaming sector.
Q. New Neural Language Models (NLM) applications are emerging after the news-making launch of OpenAi’s ChatGPT. How do you view such developments in the machine-learning sector with respect to the risk of fraud in the gaming sector?
A. As mentioned above, Fraudsight is already harnessing machine learning to improve how it identifies fraud. Beyond that, I think the possibility to harness AI technology advancements to refine existing tools and identify new ones is almost limitless. We invest in product innovation teams that are focused on identifying exactly that; so there are lots more to come!
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