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skrill: a giant of the gambling industry
If you are under the age of around 25-30, you may not remember the bad old days of the banking system. The situation was different in every country, just as it is now, but prior the year 2000 it was often close to impossible to get cash to somebody else in an emergency. Sometimes you could get lucky; if your account happened to be with the same bank as the person or business you wanted to send the money to, and instant transfer could be made. In all other circumstances, you would need to physically visit a branch of the receiver’s bank, or perhaps use an expensive money transfer service such as MoneyGram or Western Union.
Today, most people do not have a problem entering their debit card details online to make a purchase. This was not the case prior to the year 2000 – the internet was still very new to most people, and the 40-bit encryption being used to secure online payments was woefully inadequate too. Online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms first popped up sometime around 1996, but between the ancient banking infrastructure and the lack of trust and security backing up online payments, getting your money in and out of these sites was easier said than done.
Skrill (or MoneyBookers, as it was known at the time) was not the first company to recognize this problem. The idea of an online “digital wallet” had been around for several years already, and over in the US, two companies named Confinity (later renamed PayPal) and Neteller were already close to releasing viable working products. So just how did a tiny British start-up manage to catch up with its rivals across the Atlantic? Check out our section on the history of Skrill below if you’d like to find out!
the history of skrill
Today, Skrill is just one branch of a larger payments company named PaySafe, which also owns and operates the previously competing e-wallet Neteller, and Paysafecard, the successor to the voucher-based payments system UKash. Understanding how the Moneybookers company that launched in 2001 became the Skrill of today is a stunning tale of success, and one that should probably become a case study for students studying business in the future.
First established in London by Daniel Klein and Benjamin Kullmannhich, Moneybookers was the first business to obtain a legal license to operate an electronic money business in these early years of digitalization. The two founders were quick to spot the problems that the online gambling industry were having processing payments, and a decision was made early on in the companies life that this should be the primary direction of focus as they worked to build their early customer base.
Moneybookers quickly began to make deals with online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks, promising better bonuses if you were to deposit and withdraw using their service rather than the regular banking system. Gamblers loved the fact that they could withdraw to their Moneybookers almost immediately in a lot of cases, and the company began to grow quickly. The company was bought out by Investcorp in 2007, by which time it had become one of the largest e-wallet services in Europe.
Getting your winnings from your Skrill e-wallet to your regular bank account was the next big challenge that the company had to overcome. They already had deals in place that would allow them to make transfers to peoples regular bank accounts, but these transfers often took several days depending on the receiving bank, and were costly for gamblers. Skrill’s master stroke was to offer their own debit card, directly linked to the balance of your Skrill e-wallet. Now, you could spend your winnings within minutes of hitting a jackpot whilst playing an online slot machine.
As a British company, Skrill benefitted from the United Kingdom’s somewhat lax attitude towards online gambling in general. Over in the States, PayPal had decided to stop offering their services to most online companies when they were acquired by eBay. Likewise, the American company Neteller, who had been Skrill’s primary competitor for many years, found themselves in a tight spot when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act began to be enforced more strictly in 2011.
When most of the online gambling industry moved out of the United States, Neteller lost their largest market, and were forced to relocate much of their business to Europe. It was this move which would eventually see Neteller be swallowed up and become part of Skrill, although the two brands continue to trade as separate entities as of today.
In February 2013, Skrill purchased the Austrian prepaid card company paysafecard. This turned out to be a bargain for Skrill, who went on to also purchase the UKash prepaid voucher business in 2015. UKash was an interesting idea, as it allowed people to purchase paper vouchers from grocery stores, petrol stations, or supermarkets, and then deposit the money into an online gambling site in a similar way to which you would top up a mobile phone at the time.
UKash would prove a more troublesome acquisition for Skrill, and accusations of widespread money laundering would force the Paysafe group, as they were now known, to merge UKash with paysafecard to create a more secure and less fraud-prone alternative to the paper voucher system. It didn’t matter, however – Skrill was continuing to expand almost unstoppably, and was eventually bought for $1.1 billion in 2015.
With the exception of PayPal, all of Europe’s primary e-wallets were now owned by the same company. PaySafe knew that if they wanted to continue to expand, they would need to look again at moving into other markets outside of the online gambling industry. Skrill is still only supported by a small number of online merchants, although this number is slowly increasing. The company has had greater success in the areas of Forex Trading and Cryptocurrency, two markets where the company is showing impressive year-on-year growth as of 2022.
All this success has not gone unnoticed, of course – in 2019, the company won an award from Juniper Research for offering the “Best Digital Wallet”. Another accolade from the Future Digital Awards the same year rose the profile of the business significantly, leading to further awards from the American Gambling Awards and the Consumer Payment Awards.
It seems as if the only way is up for Skrill and the PaySafe Group at this time, but PayPal has returned to the online gambling market in a major way in the last few years. PayPal is one of the few companies with both the profile and the subscriber base to potentially counter Skrill’s dominance of the online gambling payments industry.
depositing using skrill
One of the most attractive features of MoneyBookers/Skrill in its early years was the simplicity of setting up and operating an account. No “Know Your Customer” (KYC) checks were performed on new customers back then, something which would allow them to grow their customer base extremely quickly. Unfortunately, this decision would later come back to bite them when many online gambling sites realized that Skrill was allowing widespread “multi-accounting”, so banned new signups from using the service to claim new player bonuses and promotions.
Today, things have changed dramatically – financial regulators in many countries forced Skrill to begin performing Know Your Customer checks on new signups several years ago, although many casinos still have rules prohibiting new players from claiming a first deposit bonus when depositing via Skrill or Neteller. If you wish to begin using Skrill today, you will need to go through the same steps required at most online casinos – a government-issued ID such as a passport, driving license, or national identity card is required, and you must have it in your hands – a photograph is not sufficient. For this reason, the signup procedure is most easily completed using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop equipped with a webcam.
It used to take a couple of days for new customers to be verified manually by Skrill, but artificial intelligence-based image processing is now used to analyse the pictures submitted by new customers, allowing the vast majority of new signups to be verified instantly.
Once you have opened your account, you have two options for depositing at an online gambling site; firstly, you can deposit an amount directly into your Skrill wallet. Some players like to do things this way to prevent their regular bank from knowing how much and often they are depositing at online gambling websites. You can add a large bankroll to your Skrill e-wallet in a single transaction, then proceed to deposit and withdraw at any site you please, whilst spending your winnings using your Skrill debit card.
Alternatively, you can simply choose the “Skrill” option when depositing at an online gambling site and, if your e-wallet does not contain enough funds to fulfil the deposit, you will be asked to add additional funds from a debit card, credit card, or bank account. These options are all instant and are usually free of charge at the customers point of use – any fees incurred by these transactions are covered by the online casino or other gambling site.
Deposits made using Skrill will appear in your online casino, sportsbook, or poker room account instantly. If it is your first deposit at that particular site, be sure to make sure that depositing via Skrill will not exclude you from any promotional offers you may wish to participate in before completing the deposit. There is usually no way to access these promotions if you have already completed a deposit using Skrill.
withdrawing using skrill
Many years ago, Skrill had several additional advantages for those who wished to withdraw funds from an online gambling site. For example, it used to be possible to make a deposit using one payment method, and then withdraw to a completely different one – a useful service, given that there was no other way to move funds directly from one e-wallet to another. Unfortunately, this ability created a loophole which was soon found and exploited by cybercriminals for fraud and money laundering purposes.
Today, you can only withdraw to Skrill if it was your last deposit method. Many online casinos also enforce a rule whereby you must withdraw the same amount back to your last payment method before you can withdraw to a different one. For example, say you make a deposit of €1,000 using Skrill; you will need to withdraw that same €1,000 back to Skrill before you can choose to withdraw to a different payment method. Furthermore, you are usually prohibited from withdrawing any additional funds to another e-wallet service – they will need to go back to a regular bank account.
These rules have eroded the value of e-wallets in some people’s eyes, but they do still have numerous advantages for gamblers of all persuasions. For example, Skrill withdrawals are usually extremely fast – many online gambling sites will process e-wallet withdrawals below a certain amount automatically as soon as you request one. Larger withdrawals do sometimes require checking manually by a member of staff at the casino, but even in these cases, the withdrawal will almost always be much faster than a debit card or bank withdrawal.
what is an e-wallet
There are many kinds of digital wallets in use today, and there is a good chance that you use some of them yourself already. Both Apple Pay and Google Pay are a form of digital wallet, each allowing you to use your existing debit and credit cards via your mobile phone. This is a undoubtedly a useful technology, but whilst you may not need the original cards with you in order to make a transaction, you do still require a debit or credit account with a traditional bank for these services to function.
There are also cryptocurrency wallets for holding digital assets such as the much-publicized Bitcoin and Ethereum. These services work in a completely different way, and, in the case of Bitcoin, were specifically designed to circumvent the existing banking system and allow people and businesses to make private, secure transactions between themselves without the need for third-party verification service – such as a bank. Whilst cryptocurrency wallets can be used for online gambling, and many online casinos have been created based solely on such technology, these are not the kinds of digital wallets we are discussing when we talk about Skrill.
Skrill was specifically designed to facilitate with online gambling, just like Neteller. Whilst both companies flirted with the idea of expanding out into the general online business market as PayPal had done at various points early in their lives, it soon became clear that there was little need for either company to facilitate regular purchase transactions.
So, to come back to the original question – just what IS an e-wallet? An e-wallet is a secure website which allows you to add your existing bank accounts and debit cards, then transfer money in and out of them – usually for a fee.
When an e-wallet must interact with the regular banking system, transaction times can be slow, and the fees are often quite high. However, if you just need to deposit and withdraw at an online gambling site then the transaction times are usually instant and there are often no fees at all.
skrill: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I haven't heard of Skrill before are they trustworthy?
If you are new to online gambling, don’t be surprised if you have not heard of Skrill until now. The company has focused almost exclusively on the online gambling market for the majority of their existence, and it is only during the past three to five years that they have begun to make a real effort to expand into other financial sectors.
You should not be worried about the trustworthiness of Skrill or it’s websites – this is a very large company that is regulated in dozens of countries, most of which consider the company to be no different from a regular bank. As such, the standard of auditing that the company goes through is extremely high.
What happens if there is a problem with my Skrill account?
The quality of Skrill’s technical and customer support used to be a real issue in earlier years. Support used to be conducted primarily via live chat, but there was clearly a staffing issue and the service was not even available 24/7. This would have put me off holding large amounts of money in my Skrill account at the time, and there are still numerous accounts of major problems experienced by Skrill customers littered around the internet from before 2013 or so.
Fortunately, things have improved drastically in recent years. The live chat feature has disappeared entirely, although there is still an AI-powered “virtual assistant” who can provide answers to some basic questions from within the Skrill app or website. Most support is now dealt with via telephone, which is much more convenient and makes the company feel far more trustworthy in many people’s eyes.
The wait times for Skrill support are usually very short, and there is also an online ticket system which you can use from inside your Skrill account as an alternative to e-mail based support. Overall, you should have little trouble sorting out any issues with your Skrill account in 2022.
How much does it cost to use Skrill?
Skrill does their best to keep the cost of using their services as low as possible for the end-user, although there are some services which the company makes a charge for. The cost of withdrawing to a regular bank account varies from country to country but is often very high – most people are far better off simply using their Skrill debit card rather than sending the money to their regular bank, unless the amount is extremely high.
One issue here is that the company also charges a significant fee to withdraw cash via the Skrill debit card. This is usually a percentage rather than a flat fee, although it does vary from country to country, but you can probably expect to pay as much as 2% for an average cash machine withdrawal. Paying for items using your Skrill debit card is free, however, so this is the best option wherever possible.
What is the difference between Skrill and Neteller?
In truth, very little – the two companies have been kept completely separate by PaySafe, although it is unclear why they have chosen to do this rather than merge the brands together. Skrill and Neteller have very different security setups, something which becomes apparent if you ever forget your password for one of the services, and the deals that they have with online gambling sites are completely different. Other than these small details, however, the two services are now extremely similar.
Is the money in my Skrill account protected by law?
Again, this depends on the country where you reside. In most European countries, Skrill is treated no differently to a regular bank, meaning that deposits of up to a certain amount are usually protected by law. You should double check what your local regulations are if you intend on keeping a very large bankroll in your Skrill account for an extended period of time.