Case studies

Fintellity offers two-part solution for gambling companies and customers

08 May 2024

Fintech firm Fintellity has an interesting proposition. Working primarily with ‘merchants who are deemed ‘high risk’, in particular gambling operators, the firm’s custom-built platform uses opening banking technology to speed up the onboarding process to meet Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Safer Gambling regulations. But it also has an important second proposition, which is to offer support for problem gambling.

CEO and founder Shardai Cosgrove set the company up in 2020, following a 12-year career in alternative payments working on virtual pre-paid cards and wallets, primarily for merchants in the gaming and gambling sectors. Her focus was on building a seamless customer experience while supporting compliant on-boarding.

The emergence of open banking technology, and the continued growth in popularity of online gambling, highlighted an opportunity to become a one-stop shop for gambling operators.

Firms in this sector are required to ensure that gambling is ‘fair, safe and free of crime’. This includes conducting rigorous checks for source of funds (verifying the origin of funds used for a transaction, often bank statements) to prevent money laundering, and affordability to help prevent problem gambling. 

Fintellity’s mission was informed by Shardai seeing first-hand the devastating effects of both problem debt, and problem gambling, in her personal network. This tied together her previous commercial experience with a passion to support responsible gambling, creating a one-stop solution that brings lenders and gambling operators together.

She says: “Gambling operators have to check when a customer hits a certain threshold from an AML perspective, and open banking data is fantastic for that because one of the red flags is whether they use payday loans.

“But on the flipside, lenders can use also open banking data as well to check if this person is gambling. So, the two sides cross over and that’s where we come in, because if we offer that data to both parties, they are synchronised.”

How does it work?

Fintellity built its own API, which can be customised by clients to provide a seamless brand experience.

If a gambler wants to add funds to their account and hits a certain threshold, the gambling operator will need to do a check for source of funds or affordability. They will then reach the first screen of the dashboard, advised that there will be a check, and, if they consent, then go through the open banking journey, giving read-only access to their account data.

That data is fed into the operator behind the scenes, and depending on the size of the operator, examined by a compliance or risk manager, who will conduct the necessary checks. If the applicant passes the checks, the account will be ‘released’ and that person can continue gambling. Some of the larger operators have a risk engine, and feed in the data directly, validate the account against the rules, then either allow the customer continue or decline their funding.

The document-free check takes a matter of seconds.

If the person fails the checks, their account is ‘frozen’. They then receive an email from the compliance team and additional checks may be required before a second ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ decision is made and communicated to the customer.

Money management app

But this is just one aspect of the Fintellity proposition. The firm has also built its own money management app, separate to the API, which aims to help people manage their finances. It uses open banking data to analyse spending patterns, and offers practical to help their financial wellbeing. It will also signpost customers to relevant self-help such as budgeting support, and debt or gambling charities.

Clients can buy licences to add on to their Fintellity API, and the firm also licenses the app to charities or businesses that want to help their staff or clients calculate people’s disposable income so that they offer accurate advice. When developing the app, Fintellity conducted its own focus group with a gambling charity for people recovering from gambling addiction, to test it out.

Shardai explains, “Obviously one of the things that these people have is a mountain of debt, so we were interested in looking at spending patterns, then recommending budgets to help them get back up and running again.”

Feedback from the group also highlighted the fact that some of its members were unbanked, so Fintellity made sure the app included education for those people, along with practical information on how to rebuild their financial profiles.

This aspect of the firm’s proposition is well-timed. Last year, the government launched a review of gambling regulation to evaluate whether it meets the challenges facing the industry. The resulting White Paper sets out how to regulate the gambling industry in a digital age by presenting comprehensive new measures aimed at making gambling safer, while still enabling consumer freedom.

Fintellity’s multifaceted approach to these challenges offers some practical steps towards promoting safer gambling and protecting vulnerable customers, as well as providing operators with a smoother customer experience and robust customer checks.

Notes to editors

Open Banking Limited does not endorse any of the products or companies mentioned here.

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