Can Payment Providers Secure Gaming Transactions Amidst Evolving Threats?

Iyke Bede reports that experts in the financial services sector at the recently concluded Africa Gaming Expo in Lagos detailed the complexities that characterise the African gaming market’s unique payment process, existing threats, and prospects in a panel session tagged ‘The Role of Payment Providers in Facilitating Secured Transactions in the Gaming Industry’

The global gaming industry generates billions of dollars in revenue, with a significant portion of transactions conducted online for convenience. However, these online transactions expose punters to frequent online threats, risking the loss of their life savings or the unauthorised sale of their personal information to interested parties for marketing purposes. 

Undoubtedly, all sectors engaged in online transactions face various forms of cybercrime, prompting the implementation of adequate measures to safeguard consumer interests. 

This includes the burgeoning African gaming sector, which grapples with numerous teething issues such as regulatory frameworks, underage gambling, and illegal operators.

At the recently concluded Africa Gaming Expo held in Lagos, experts in the financial services sector detail the complexities that characterise the African gaming market’s unique payment process, existing threats, and prospects in a panel session tagged ‘The Role of Payment Providers in Facilitating Secured Transactions in the Gaming Industry.’ 

As noted by Paystack’s Strategic Account Manager, Ejiro Esigbone, “payment in Africa is faster than regulation,” describing the sector’s leaps in innovation that don’t quite match existing laws. 

“We are very innovation-forward in how we think about processing payments. So, if you compare how people pay in Nigeria, for example, to how people pay in the West, we have cards, it is popular,” said Esigbone. “We have USSD payments, transfers, etc., and we are trying to make it quicker and faster by pushing out products.” 

Consumer protection is at the core of payment providers’ ethos. Esigbone described some key features that provide consumers with basic security while carrying out transactions amid evolving threats. 

He added, “Some of the simple things that we think about are like the basic two-factor authentication. For a payment to be successful, we rely on something the customer has and the customer knows: card number, CVV, or the pin, and an OTP sent to their phone. Another angle is tokenization. That is, the encryption of data. For each transaction, the customer receives a token.

“One of the things that we try to do is to very intelligently analyse customer behaviour on a real-time basis. This is not an easy thing to do, but when it is done right, it helps you identify: is this the normal behaviour of this customer? If not, with a bit more reliability, flag the fraudulent transactions. 

“Also, the Level of due diligence done before signing up a customer which involves certain levels of security checks and verifications done, such as PCI DSS ( Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) certification.” 

The Group Head of Financial Services and Utilities at eTransact, Abimbola Reis, explained that other measures that guarantee safety in the online space involve the use of risk scoring. 

“A region or a particular person that is not allowed to do online games would be assigned a risk score that allows the system to identify it as an illegal activity,” said Reis. “In Nigeria, there is an ongoing process to structure the online identity of users and payers on the payment platforms. Our KYC is becoming more structured. With the data being structured, it gives us access to separate platforms that are accessible to our system for payment services.”

She reinforced that having a well-structured data system driven by technology has enabled the investigation of unusual transactions, such as using a sports betting platform for money laundering, and the ability to decline such transactions when flagged.

Reis also highlighted that this capability has been developed through collaboration with regulators, banks, and other payment providers.

An emerging trend in sports betting is using cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies in gaming. However, it is not widely accepted in Africa due to existing jurisdictional laws. The panel suggested that regulators and operators must first understand what they can do within the confines of licences before offering such blockchain services. Besides issuing licences, they also encouraged building infrastructure for robust security measures similar to those in place for traditional payments.

While the existing infrastructures avail certain safety nets, the panel, which included Chief Executive Officer of Palmpay, Chika Nwosu; Chief Executive Officer, FINCRA, Ayowole Ayodele; Vice-President, Sales, Payaza, Adejuwon Oyebanjo, noted that point of failures could emanate from all parties involved: from customers who share security information with cyber criminals to banks that delay certain processes to the operators whose platforms experience unique technical glitches on a regular basis. 


BetWinner, Nigeria, is majorly an online sports betting company. We’re not looking at going retail for now. So, we want to first understand and gain that online audience, and maybe we can look at retail in the future, but for now, it is online. Our goal is to ensure we continue improving technology and innovation to suit that target audience and to ensure we continue meeting the needs of people in the online space. So that is my major goal. And that’s the strategy to just focus on the technological aspects of it. One thing is: we are mobile, and the customers can have access to us anywhere on mobile and their smartphone via the mobile app. That is one obvious thing. We would leverage on that and also improve on that as well.

Maha Otu, Director, BetWinner Nigeria

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