In powering digital payments for video poker, Skrill stresses less is more

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Digital payments developers have targeted video game platforms and their players as fairly fertile ground for integrating payment methods directly into game consoles or apps, but up to now the misses have outnumbered the hits.

Arguably the most successful in-game payment options have been Apple Pay and Google Pay, which succeed only because they are the dominant way to make purchases on mobile devices and, thus, enable micropayments in games. Elsewhere, consumers typically use a credit card or stored-value card to buy digital games.

Occasionally, companies try to develop a virtual currency for gamers, such as the ill-fated Facebook Credits. In practice, this adds an extra point of friction — purchasing the digital currency — to a system that, while clunky, already worked.

In taking the approach that keeping virtual currency as simple as possible — and not trying to stretch it into other payment platforms beyond the game it is intended for — Skrill USA hopes to avoid those past misfires.

The Miami company is providing its digital online payments technology for the Global Poker and Chumba Casino games of Virtual Gaming Worlds, allowing players to purchase Gold Coins and redeem prizes.

Casino games are among the few categories where consumers expect to spend money just to play. The ability to obtain Gold Coins on a gaming platform, at least for now, should not be confused with Skrill's general technology that enables the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies from traditional payment cards.

The international Skrill brand, operated through parent company Paysafe Group, has offered the cryptocurrency buying and selling since last July, but Skrill USA does not currently have that capability.

Skrill already enables gamers to load funds into the Skrill Wallet while playing games using ACH, payment cards or prepaid vouchers. The wallet is the link to buying Gold Coins to advance players deeper into their games.

Past efforts in the video gaming world have included Amazon Coins and Razer, which recently closed its digital game store.

The technology integration with Virtual Gaming Worlds (VGW) marks one of the first social casino and poker partnerships for Skrill USA, said Lorenzo Pellegrino, a commercial leader at Skrill USA.

"As a company, we look to offer our digital wallet to any vertical where merchants need to expand their business internationally and need one single API or payments provider to offer multiple payment methods," Pellegrino said. "We do strict know-your-business due diligence on every single merchant approaching us, and we only accept those that comply with these policies."

London-based Skrill, which offers processing in more than 200 countries and more than 40 currencies, has worked with several hundred gaming companies and other retailers. The company has sought to extend its profile in the U.S. through its Miami headquarters for the past three years.

Australia-based VGW has focused on social gaming products since 2001 and considers its Global Poker and Chumba Casino games as "flagship platforms."

Even though most of the VGW social gaming sites are free to players, those who want to spend money within the games can do so through the purchase of Gold Coins.

"One of the best things about partnering with Skrill is that the players can buy coins from within our platform," said Laurence Escalante, VGW's chief executive. "There is no need for players to access a separate Skrill app."

The ease in obtaining Gold Coins and the fact they can be used only as a virtual currency for the games being played, and not as a mainstream payment option, are factors that VGW also views as keys to not meeting the same fate as other gaming currencies that went awry.

"If players decide they would like to purchase more Gold Coins, then the process is simple," Escalante said. "In just a few short clicks, they can select a Gold Coin package they would like to purchase and be back to playing the games they enjoy."

Plus, Escalante noted, VGW is not offering the Skrill payments option as a basis for all interaction on the platforms.

"We have a fantastic internal team focusing on the user experience to ensure that the customer journey is a good one for our players," Escalante added. "Skrill, or any payment method, is not a major component of that initial journey, as the vast majority of our players will only play for free."

Skrill says it has the same stringent KYC security measures in place when approving all types of merchant sites that a consumer wants to send funds to, including real-money gaming brands and free-play or social gaming brands like those operated through VGW.

Additional security is provided through PINs, passwords and face recognition through the Skrill wallet app.

Skrill currently processes payments for "the vast majority of the licensed online gambling operators in regulated states," Pellegrino said.

"In terms of payments, our digital wallet offers more than 100 local deposit options internationally," Pellegrino said. "In the U.S. market in particular, the vast majority of consumer payments are implemented through instant ACH transactions, credit cards, and the Paysafe prepaid online card, as well as bank transfers."

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