Using PayPal or another anonymous payment method as your source of funds whilst playing online bingo is a distinctly different experience for the rational region of the brain than allowing vital data like credit card numbers and one’s address to be ‘registered’ by the bingo website. From the consumer’s point of view, online gambling’s intrusion into personal information and identity is a bit of a spoiler of the thrill of the games ¾ would visiting a bingo hall (or a casino) be as fun if players had to register at the door by turning over all sorts of vital personal and banking information?
Could it be that choosing an alternative payment method for certain kinds of services not only protects people from identity theft but also enhances the nature of the respective services? In the case of bingo, in what ways might we expect the experience of the game improved by strengthening one’s indemnity against the possibility of being robbed online (is it easy to picture being robbed at a bingo hall?)?
‘Card schemes like Visa and MasterCard have tremendous muscle and an established infrastructure that means they have an advantage for mobile payments at bricks-and-mortar locations in the developed world’ , however, purely virtual forms of spending cash such as online bingo lie in a completely different realm. Bingo websites’ unique space is both financially and psychologically different from purchasing hard goods at actual locations. There is a greater need for privacy protection and limitations upon personal exposure at gaming sites.
PayPal or other cash vouchers (essentially monetary middlemen) act like a firewall around one’s money, but more importantly one’s identity ¾ these forms of payment block both direct e-attacks upon identity and they reduce exposure to un-secure outside databases that can be easily hacked. Just because someone loves a particular bingo website, and its games are top-notch, doesn’t mean that its database servers are immune to commercial espionage. PayPal solves that problem by buffering your identity completely ¾ the vendors remunerated by PayPal on your behalf only know they’re getting paid, because that’s their bottom line. (Bingo websites only ask for all the credit card and identity information to ensure that they will get paid, anyway.)
So when the safety and comfort dimension is resolved and put to the side, why would playing with PayPal bingo cash or a secure voucher system (which is a temporary bank balance unattached to identity) enhance one’s fun, to boot? The question may be posed in two basic scenarios: one, the casual or healthy bingo player who treats it more or less like other forms of interactive entertainment, and two, the serious and possibly compulsive bingo gambler.
For fun-seeking bingo players, for whom the game does not distract or disrupt their normal lives, paying for their online bingo cards without disclosing their normal social credentials (that is, their financials) is simply more harmonious because the amusing experience of bingo compliments the non-invasive way in which it can be bought. This is very simply more like a real bingo hall, yet retains all the convenience (and spatial privacy) of ‘life on the screen’. It would actually be overkill and inappropriate to be asked to provide so much security just for the sake of the online establishment ¾ and yet, the popularity of online bingo will reveal that most people think it is worth that risk, and don’t know that easy alternatives exist. (But that is the sort of brand-heavyweight status that Visa and MasterCard et al have, that alternatives to them might not appear legitimate or, ironically, safe enough.)
The other small advantage to the casual bingo lover is being able to neatly apportion how much bingo cash they have to play from the beginning (by transferring their budget to PayPal or buying that much as a cash voucher). This sort of sensibility may be overwhelmed while in the heat of the games, whereupon even a non-pathological player might be bested by the urge to charge another £10 or £20 on the registered credit card. Although we are talking about only a couple of extra steps necessary for PayPal (but they could in theory be automated by options), the distinct feeling of playing with real cash (not credit) will just appeal more to the fun-loving players; they might also harbour slight indignation at the self-image of getting ‘fronted’ by their credit card companies (as if by loan sharks at the periphery of poker tables).
Now, for those unfortunate players who find themselves with a gambling addiction (and it will increasingly be something not to feel ashamed of, by some accounts, based upon the power that ulta-convienient forms of gambling exert upon the mind), using PayPal to manage their spending and to bring minute awareness of their behaviour while playing could be a god-send.
In fact, customized payment schemes for specific uses may indeed become the wave of the future, using the amazing capabilities of the Internet for increasingly public-controlled financial transactions. The customized payment method might, for instance, have built-in safeguards for those with gambling problems (and perhaps certain communities might pre-program mandatory safeguards and delimiters when accounts exhibit the signs of compulsive playing).
All of these and other contingencies would be well worth the effort devoted by gaming companies, and their industry as a whole, in order to both understand their customers and maintain a higher reputation for online bingo. The era of exploitive marketing or shady privacy standards has effectively been dissolved by people’s rediscovered financial and consumer liberty afforded by the Internet ¾ the only way for online businesses to succeed now is to concentrate upon their customers’ experience rather than merely upon the products sold. This new mandate will make-or-break the acceptability of online bingo, and perhaps online gambling as a whole, as long as they continue to operate in their presently tentative and provisional way (as some communities outlaw them while others embrace them).