Converting players in problematic markets - an insight for affiliates and operators.

WHEN IT COMES to converting players in problematic markets such as Argentina and Russia, choosing the right payment method is crudal and a one-size-fits-all solution is not the answer to a successful online business.

In the payments world, we see the gaming sector as one of the most proactive industries to embrace alternative and local payment methods, whilst continuously striving to enhance the player experience.

It is also an industry that recognises that MasterCard and Visa are not the only payment solutions available to its players and that trialling and implementing alternative payment methods is a fundamental part of any company's success, and any partner's ability to effectively market them.

The success of prepaid products both locally and on a global scale should become a standard part of the payments mix for any operator. In problematic markets in particular, the use of products that are offered by payment providers greatly reduce the market entry risk for operators by executing payments from day one. Operators also teD us that our expansion into some of these markets has been one of the most important factors in their ability to grow.

The popularity and growth of prepaid methods has been driven by a number of factors but remains, in most cases, complimentary to other forms of payment. In France, instance, most ecommerce sites would accept Carte Bleu, in Brazil it is Boleto Bancario and in Germany they offer direct bank deposit methods such as Giropay. This is in addition to globally recognised payment methods such as MasterCard. Visa and, of course, Ukash.

The benefits of prepaid methods

Prepaid payment methods provide a number of key benefits for our affiliate partners, the operator and of course the player.

Prepaid solutions have the potential to dramatically open up the affiliate market on a global scale. Affiliates can confidently market to geographies where an operator may not have otherwise considered, and this, in turn, provides enormous potential for both the affiliate and the operator. For example, we partner with an Eastern European affiliate that uses the Ukash voucher product as part of an incentive programme to encourage sign-ups within a country which has underdeveloped online payment options.

For the operator, prepaid methods provide access to new segments of players, particularly within emerging markets such as Latin America and Russia, where cash is prevalent. The use of vouchers mitigates the risk of chargebacks, providing the operator with additional value when accessing new markets, in a more stable and financially secure manner. This has lead to a rapid growth in prepaid products in a variety of countries from Scandinavia and Latin America to Canada. As an affiliate, it is important to remember, however, that prepaid methods only form one area of the operator's payments mix.

For the operator, it is also critical that prepaid methods are clearly communicated throughout the player experience in order to reduce drop out. This means that the operator needs to do more than just feature the deposit methods on the cashier page, particularly for a new site launch or the introduction of a new payment method.

And finally, this flexible payment option is also attractive to players who would like to play at an online gaming site, but do not wish to include any of their personal banking details when registering online, or perhaps, prefers to manage their online spend within a set budget and without the risk of using a credit facility. With Ukash, for example, the player is given the choice of depositing directly into a player account, to reload e-wallets such as Neteller or topping up prepaid cards like the Kalixa Card or our own UkashOut and Ukash NEO cards.

Chances of success

So, to conclude, we believe that by accepting both international and local payment methods, and by closing the payment loop through offering a flexible prepaid solution to players, an operator stands a much greater chance of success and offers its affiliates greater ammunition with which to appropriately market them. Simply putting a Western Europe model into the market will greatly limit chances of growth and has the potential to show cultural sensitivities in underdeveloped markets such as Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe.

At Ukash, we have long since recognised that a successful business model is built on a range of payment methods rather than the assumption that all markets present the same environments.
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