Pay By Phone Slots
As mobile phone slots become more and more popular, it comes as no surprise that many slot and casino sites are now offering a safe, secure and fuss free way to deposit while on the go.
- What is pay by phone?
- History of pay by phone
- Pros and cons of pay by phone
- The future of pay by phone
What is pay by phone?
Pay by phone refers to any of several payment methods where the funding comes from the user’s PAYG balance or is added to their next mobile phone bill. The phone connection is used to authenticate the transaction which means there is no need for any password or login and the user also has to be physically in possession of the phone for the payment to be made.
Pay by phone as it applies to online slot and casino sites does NOT mean payment systems such as Google Pay where in-app purchases – and purchases of material goods made via NFC (contactless) technology can be charged to a bank card, as these do not apply the charge to the user’s phone bill.
History of pay by phone
Pay by phone started back in the mists of time. In 1998 the Finnish mobile operator Radiolinja launched a service called Harmonium whereby users could create monophonic ring tones and send them via SMS to a mobile handset. This caught on in a big way and soon phone users all over the world were buying novelty ringtones by text. The cost of sending the text to a premium rate number went partly to the ringtone provider and partly to the mobile phone operator, and so pay by phone was born. This was long before the advent of the iPhone and true mobile internet, so there was no option to use any other kind of payment method from a phone (apart from making a voice call and giving a credit card number).
Novelty ringtones went on to become a multi billion pound market, evolving from the tinny monophonic tones of the 90s to high quality (truetone) audio recordings and became so popular that from 2005 until 2014 there was an official Billboard Ringtones chart.
The early technology of the ringtones industry survives in modern pay by phone transactions systems as many of the mobile billing payment systems still involve a text message as part of the authentication process and even with the ones that don’t, a receipt is usually sent by text. In other ways, things have definitely moved on; when you buy a ringtone, the service that is being billed to the phone bill is delivered to the phone itself and the same goes for the in-app content that is perhaps the more common purchase these days, but this is not true of all pay by phone services – for instance, voting on the X Factor involves calling a premium rate number. When you use a pay by phone method to make a deposit at a casino, the deposit is available to play with regardless of what device you access the casino from and with some methods (such as Boku) it is not even necessary ever to visit the casino site from the phone.
These days the huge UK market in phone paid services is regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority – including services as disparate as directory enquiries, adult chat services, lifestyle subscriptions, in-app purchases, voting hotlines and charity donations as well as deposits at online casinos and betting sites. Some of the annoying restrictions you may come across when trying to pay by phone are actually the work of the PSA and not the fault of the gambling operator at all. One of these is the deposit limit of £30 per user per day which can leave players unable to make a large enough deposit to take full advantage of a casino’s welcome offer. Players who have been frustrated by this in the past will no doubt be delighted to hear that the PSA has recently proposed removing this daily limit on the grounds that players are sufficiently protected by the monthly transaction limit of £240 that is written into UK law as of January 2018. HOWEVER it is important to understand that the £240 is for ALL phone paid services charged to one phone in a month so if you pay for other stuff using mobile billing as well it could still be a major annoyance.
Pros and Cons
The aforementioned deposit limits are one major disadvantage of using pay by phone to deposit at online slot and casino sites. Other minus points include:
- Many operators charge a fee for deposits via any mobile phone billing methods
- Pay by phone is for deposits only – to withdraw, you’ll need some other method
- Sometimes deposits made via mobile phone billing are excluded from bonus offers
Of course there are plus points as well and what these largely boil down to is that pay by phone is quick, easy and safe. There’s no need to remember anything apart from your own phone number and no other information such as card details or passwords is given to the casino or sent over the internet (which is best avoided when using any kind of public network).
To avoid getting caught out by fees and/or exclusion from offers and promotions, always check the terms and conditions before you deposit by phone – and preferably in advance, as it may not be so easy to read the small print on a phone screen.
The future of pay by phone
Depositing using a pay by phone method can be rather haphazard at the moment as there are so many systems and whether they work or not depends on which mobile phone service provider you use as well as on the casino’s payment systems. For example, many Nektan casino sites take Boku but do not accept Boku deposits from Vodafone phones.
The Swedish fintech company Zimpler (founded in 2012) offers a better solution but at the moment this is only available to users in Sweden and Finland (and probably Germany soon). Zimpler is a mobile wallet that integrates phone bill, bank and card payments, offering a facility to deposit with any of these methods in less than 20 seconds. To access Zimpler, a customer enters their phone number then logs in with the authentication code that is sent to the phone.
Zimpler is a vast improvement over any current system because it effectively combines a pay by phone system with a Paypal type e-wallet, all with text authentication. It also includes features such as spending limits, nudging and behavioural science methods to help users manage their money effectively.
If Zimpler comes to the UK (one major obstacle to this could be regulation as presumably part of its operation would fall under the Financial Conduct Authority and part under the Phone-paid Services Authority) we expect it to dominate the market in pay by phone casino and slot sites almost immediately – especially as so many sites already accept it in countries where it is live.