The online gaming industry in India has been seeing an upward curve for the past few years. What has sparked this growth is the shift in the revenue model, which earlier was dominated by in-app purchases and advertisement but is now moving towards real money games. A report by CXO capital positions the current size of the real money gaming market around Rs 2200 crore with an average rate of growth of users standing at 50 per cent.
As aspirational consumption in India doubles by 2025, along with massive multiplication in the number of people under the age of 45-the biggest consumer base of the gaming industry in India, the market has the potential of emerging as one of the largest in the world, a report by Deloitte states. The recent investments of Sequoia India, Times Internet, and GoVentures and few others in Mobile Premier League- only substantiate the claim.
The Upcoming Challenge
Riding on the support of the law, the real money games have been able to shed the shadow of gambling that surrounded them. This has empowered users to freely embrace these platforms for the possibility of drawing a huge sum from a pool on a small investment. While new to India, the experience of developed countries with gaming platforms has a lot to teach us. The possibility of winning/earning money invariably attracts fraudsters along with threats like money laundering. This is true for any fundamental shift in money transactions like in the case of BFSI when e-banking was first introduced. Data breaches, identity and location spoofing in the online gaming industry have been facilitated by the rise of the dark web that gives easy access to names and email addresses to trick users to fraudulent gaming sites. This has led the regulatory bodies around the world to tighten the noose on compliance and due diligence obligations surrounding KYC/ AML and fraud prevention.
In the Indian context, the varying state laws around skill-based gaming further complicate matters for operators. To give an example, skill-based games, including those played online, are legal in all Indian states except Assam, Orrisa and Telangana whereas in Nagaland these games can only be played online on websites licensed by the State of Nagaland. Chance-based games, on the other hand, are conditionally legal only in Goa, Sikkim and Daman. Age verification is mandatory for almost all types of skill-based games, whether they are played online or offline.
To comply with the stringent laws, the operators must add layers of safety at every stage – from onboarding to the transfer of amount won- to mitigate risks that threaten the player experience.
Consequently, with clunky and lengthy signup processes, exhaustive nature of documents demanded by operators or delay in verifying age, identity and address by operators; the player drop-out at onboarding has become extremely high. Most gamers playing online for entertainment have an account with multiple operators. They are short of patience with elaborate signup processes. In their head, they are constantly, albeit subconsciously, comparing onboarding, deposit and withdrawal procedures of not just immediate rivals in the industry but across industries, also expecting a safe playing environment always. Attracting new players to register/make real-money transactions within the confines of regulatory bodies and enabling those who complete registration to play faster is making the already hard job of operators even harder.
Winning both players and regulatory bodies needs a solid balancing act
Streamlined verification at onboarding presents itself as a potent solution to make the positive first impression on players while also carrying out the larger objective of providing a fraud-free environment. Technology-enabled identity and address verification emerge as one of the most efficient ways to tackle these challenges head-on as they can add speed, efficiency and reliability to every step of the player experience.
Background Verification & Screening companies like AuthBridge have built on capabilities like optical character recognition to extract, auto-populate and validate player data from IDs instantly. Rooted in AI, ML and deep search algorithms, our Instant KYC solution for the gaming industry validates identity and age in real-time. Advanced Video KYC and geo-coordinate tracking APIs facilitate liveness detection and fight against location-spoof that plagues the gaming industry in the presence of widely different local laws in different states/countries. Quick bank account verification and PAN verification ensures that the money invested/won/transferred belongs to a genuine user of the playing age and doesn’t have a connection to a money-laundering group.
All roads lead to tech-powered, streamlined onboarding
More than 75 per cent of India’s population is under 45 years and an average Indian gamer falls under the age group of 20-44 years, a study by the World Bank reveals. This, coupled with the surge in smartphone ownership and data usage across India, makes online gaming a ripe segment for the generation of employment, taxes and revenue not just for itself but across industries, specifically IT and related services. The good news for the gaming industry is that it shares most of its challenges- customer-related, regulatory and compliance- with BFSI-a sector where a similar disruption has already happened, and innovative, tech-led solutions around compliance to KYC, AML already been tested. Efficient onboarding is already a norm in BFSI that keeps both customers and regulatory bodies happy. Following high standards of self-governance, transparency and integrity will go a long way in making an impact in the gaming industry as will keeping up with the technology-powered innovation in the space.