Most people click a few hundred times more than that every day when using a mobile phone or computer for a myriad of reasons. Before that, most things start with a sign-up process in which people enter particular details of their lives. It is rote in the digital age — name, email address, street address, phone number, user ID, password, security question, promise of first-born (OK, that last one is a joke) — to gain access.
In the sports wagering industry, the sign-up is arguably the most important transaction. It is a key test for an operator to pass and generate customer loyalty — make it easy, and a bettor is more likely to stay. If it’s cumbersome, regardless of how good an introductory promotional offer is, there’s always another sportsbook out there.
Mobile betting accounts for at least 94% of total handle in the four largest markets — New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Ohio — and Nevada is the only top 10 market where mobile handle is less than 90% of overall handle.
Prove Identity thinks it has the ideal process for onboarding users quickly and in a largely frictionless fashion with its Pre-Fill solution. It signed an agreement with FanDuel Thursday to use Pre-Fill for the mobile wagering titan’s sign-up process, looking to complete an account-opening process up to 80% faster and onboard bettors in as few as three clicks.
“It’s usually not the case when you embark on a newer vertical or industry from a vendor or company perspective that you start at the top,” said Tom Hill, director of digital identity and head of sports betting and iGaming at Prove, in an interview with Sports Handle. “Usually you have to work your way up to the market leader like a FanDuel. So to have them be sort of the driving keystone at the beginning, as the first one, was just really exciting.”
New to wagering, but not to ID verification
Prove Identity’s deal with FanDuel is its first with a Tier 1 sportsbook, though Hill said Prove has been in discussions with other sportsbooks. Prove has a long track record of providing ID verification and authentication spanning multiple industries. It serves eight of the top 10 banks among its more than 1,000 businesses worldwide.
“[Sports wagering] was an industry that we wanted to pursue,” explained Hill, who has been with Prove for nearly three years and had been in the sports wagering space previously. “There’s a natural confluence of factors between the way that the industry and the way that people interact with the operators and the solutions that Prove provides as a phone-centric identity company.
“There’s just so many synergies that exist that that promote a really high degree of both trust and safety, but also, great experiences. … We had a multiple horse race as to who would be the first Tier 1 to execute. And we’ve got a number of others that have followed, both Tier 1s and others. So we’re really excited.”
The financial sector has many of the same authentication and verification concerns mobile sports wagering operators have, as well as their own unique aspects. That includes bonus churn, synthetic identities, and other forms of fraud. What Prove’s Pre-Fill offers is the chance to alter the old building blocks of account security — the user names, passwords, and security questions — by using the mobile phone as a key component.
“The historical mindset was throw a million hoops and rings of fire for you to jump through, prove who you are to stop all the different types of fraud,” Hill said, “and really, our thought is that that’s backwards. It should be easy for those people to get through without having the rigmarole of 19 different ways of proof in your identity.
“We’ve tried to shift that with our products, and that’s now starting to translate into gaming, particularly with the Proof Pre-Fill product, which is to help promote a really minimal keystroke, minimal friction sign-up process at the very top of the funnel.”
A 10-digit number, but so much more
There is a notable likelihood you are reading this article on a smartphone, the piece of technology “that’s an appendage to our bodies,” joked Hill. Your phone number is what he calls “a powerful cryptographic device” that serves as the foundation of Prove’s Pre-Fill service that FanDuel wants to utilize for onboarding new potential bettors. On the surface, that makes sense, given a 10-digit phone number offers nearly 10 billion combinations as a de facto password.
“We have the ability to validate the phone number that’s on that device. We can know — for sure — this is [a phone number] that’s signing up or interacting with a FanDuel or another operator.”
“Many times passively we can also, once we have the phone number, make sure, ‘Hey, what’s this look like from a risk profile? Is this phone number brand new? Is it long term and very reliable?’ There’s a lot of different data points we have around a phone that can help us understand: Is it riskier than normal or is it normal? … The true value of Prove is we understand a vast, vast majority of whose phone number goes to who.”
That phone number, after being verified and authenticated, then serves as the key to unlock other information needed for a new account rather than a user plugging in details for an account sign-up. It helps the user make the process quicker by removing keystrokes, and it helps the operator avoid time-consuming functions, such as a manual review of data entry errors. And when it serves as a security function, it has the potential to prevent synthetic identity fraud.
“From a consumer perspective, it all comes back to that phone number and that key possession step,” Hill said. “I could have all of your information. I could know all your PII (Personal Identifiable Information) … but what I don’t have is a phone number in my possession that ties to that with any kind of long-term history. Everything drives back again to that fundamental three-pronged approach of possession, reputation, and ownership for us.
“Any kind of scenario that you can outline, one of those three pillars of possession, reputation, or ownership will flag it, meaning to help keep your customers and customer assets and customer interactions safe.”
FanDuel goals and beyond
Already the U.S. marketplace leader in sports betting handle and revenue, FanDuel is hoping Prove’s Pre-Fill reduces “abandonment” — which is when a bettor does not complete the sign-up process for whatever reason — while continuing to provide a high level of security and safety.
In Thursday’s release announcing the agreement, FanDuel’s senior vice president of product, Billy Turchin, said, “We pride ourselves on being a fan-focused company and that passion has led to the continued development of new solutions that ensure our customers can have a safe experience they trust. Partnering with Prove to use their Pre-Fill solution will help us protect our customers while making our sign-up process a more seamless experience.”
Both sides will be using the percentage of abandonment — with the hope of seeing it reduced — as a key metric, and Hill believes Pre-Fill, what he calls Prove’s “flagship product,” will also be integral to further identity authentication and verification evolution in the sports wagering space.
“I think for it to be successful for us will be just that the product’s done what it’s already done in other places. It’ll continue to allow more people to sign up,” he said. “That will be the true metric that proves out what this does, which is you’ll see higher sign-up success rates. Not only that, you’ll see less of the more friction-filled sign-ups.”
Hill also struck an optimistic note specific to the mobile sports wagering industry, noting how operators will often rally together for the greater good. The deal with FanDuel has put Prove in a position to, well, prove itself in a high-profile spot, and Hill is confident Pre-Fill can deliver.
“I think that this is a real landmark moment for us. It proves that major players in the space see the value of really digging into a phone-centric approach. … We’re super excited about it. I think that it shows that we’re here to stay in this industry.
“[Identity authentication] is a very hot space — it’s never going to go away. We’ll always need to confirm and re-validate identities, but everyone wants to get into gaming, and we’ve been able to accomplish that. I think it’s just the beginning for us there. And we’re looking forward to being a long-term industry partner and advocate for both the operators and the consumers themselves.”