Payments are incredibly important for ensuring customers convert first time to an operator. We spoke with Rhi Burns, Chief Commercial Officer of Zimpler to talk about the importance of payments in the Swedish market and why affiliates need to pay closer attention to it for their player conversion.
Affiliate Industry Review: Can you tell us about the transition you have made from working affiliate side at Catena Media to the payments industry?
Rhi Burns: I worked in payments back in 2011 and whilst I loved the company and loved my job, I didn’t feel especially passionate about deposits. This was back when players had to remember a 12-digit reference, open a new window, log in to their bank and manually make a transfer to an operator, all whilst not forgetting to include those 12 digits, which they often did, meaning they had to wait days for us to find and allocate the funds to their account.
After 3 years in payments, I headed into affiliation, working as Head of Sales at Catena Media. Whilst affiliation is a lot of fun and many people think the money just rolls in, there is so much work involved in doing it. I spent my days staring at affiliate account reports and excel sheets, reading player surveys and forums and testing out casinos to try and understand exactly where the money comes from. Looking for patterns, for correlations and ways to increase conversion on our sites, player loyalty (to the casinos and to us), player values and more. I’d constantly be searching for what makes one casino convert better than another.
Affiliate Industry Review: What kind of casino generates high value players? What do ‘great’ casinos have in common and what do you think makes the ‘perfect’ casino brand?
Rhi Burns: For a long time, it was about the bigger the welcome bonus, the better the performance. Then, over time, players started caring more about terms and conditions of the bonuses and reasonable wagering requirements. Licensing also became important, even in the grey markets. Players wanted brands they felt secure with and that they really could trust. Around 2018, a new pattern began to emerge. The casinos that were generating the most New depositing customers per click, experiencing the lowest churn, and generating the most revenue for us, were the “no account casinos”. These casinos had one thing in common, an all-encompassing payment solution.
Affiliate Industry Review: What’s an all-encompassing payment solution?
Rhi Burns: It began in Sweden and has been tested in Finland and Germany. A payment solution that handles the entire registration process from the login, KYC, deposits and withdrawals. Everything is instant for the client. There is no long registration process, the player account is instantly created upon deposit and is instantly KYC’d upon registration via the bank transfer. Funds instantly appear in your casino account and withdrawals instantly appear in your bank account. Suddenly abandonment rates plummeted, money flow grew, and players began to trust and engage with these casinos where everything was instant. As a result conversion rates on sites increased, this lead to higher CPA’s and affiliate revenue grew. Players were happy, casinos were happy, and affiliates were definitely very happy.
Affiliate Industry Review: How does this feed into the importance of the affiliate revenue model?
Rhi Burns: Being ‘Instant’ is now key. So long as players don’t have to go through tedious registration processes or spend days sending over necessary KYC documents, they get their deposits instantly and, most importantly get their withdrawals back in their account fast too, then their loyalty rate will remain high. Whether they offer this via one payment method, or a hybrid of models in the backend – payments have suddenly become hyper important to brand success. It’s not about offering too many different payment methods; it’s about offering just the safest , simplest and the quickest.
Another really exciting offshoot of these ‘instant’ payment solutions is that casinos have less ways to make things hard for players. Players have more control over their spending (with withdrawals appearing instantly back in their accounts), they aren’t tricked into giving all their personal information with long registration forms, the KYC process can’t be stretched out or delayed and withdrawals can’t be delayed in the hope that players will cancel them and play some more. Finally, brands have realised that happy players make a more sustainable industry.
Affiliate Industry Review: What’s the main take away you’ve learnt from working in both the Affiliate and Payment industry?
Rhi Burns: My biggest takeaway is that a casino does not have to go the full ‘instant account route in order to succeed. While there are many pros to implementing this type of process, it’s just not for everyone and there is still space in the industry for traditional casino cashiers. I really got to understand how players react to various brands by digging into the data and what this phenomenon showed me is, that the more I dug into these tiny changes between them, the more my passion began to shift and with that realisation, I moved back into payments to head up Zimpler’s Malta office as CCO.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a player, a brand, or an affiliate, you need to start caring about the end user , provide a speedy user experience and understand that payments drive this, if you really want to succeed. I cannot wait to be a part of what the payments industry does next to disrupt and improve the iGaming industry forward over the coming months!