PokerUpdate: Please tell us about your role at Skrill. What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Julian Artope: I am Skrill’s Vice President of Marketing. Main responsibilities lie in customer acquisition, sales and account management support, as well as lead generation and the development of the Skrill brand. I also spend time listening to customers and providing feedback to management so that when Skrill fully launches next year, we are able to provide the best payment system out there.
PU: Why did Moneybookers rebrand as Skrill? Your website says the rebranding “extends and improves the Moneybookers global payment network even further.” How can a change of name improve a payment network?
JA: Two years ago, we found ourselves talking to a growing global audience through an increasing number of languages. ‘Moneybookers’ works well for a specialised crowd, namely native English-speaking online gamers. However, ask a non-native speaker and 80% of the time he or she will misspell the name or misunderstand it. Serving a wide range of international business verticals, we had become a global company, but still sported a specialised, local brand. We needed to address this.
Skrill is short, to the point and works well internationally. We tested it extensively via various business verticals and target markets around the world. We are now in phase two of a three-phase rebrand. We display Skrill on the old Moneybookers website, keeping existing functionality, so our current customers can get used to the brand. In the summer of 2012, we will fully switch to Skrill. To sweeten the journey for everyone, we’re currently adding new payment options and service improvements, such as lowering the starting level for our VIP program to €2,000 a month.
PU: Why is Moneybookers a superior option to PayPal and Neteller?
JA: We have over 100 global and local payment options that you can use to deposit into our Digital Wallet. This kind of reach is hardly matched in the market and means that our customers can come from all around the world to use our system, even if they don’t have a credit card.
We are also highly competitive in terms of pricing, whether with our Moneybookers prepaid MasterCard, which you can use worldwide, or our transaction fees. Gambling rooms and affiliates therefore have a strong global brand and product that they can build on, which is available for nearly all of their traffic.
Additionally, the Moneybookers Digital Wallet offers them a chance to diversify their source of income, as they will earn on all online spending of their referrals, not just on gaming deposits.
PU: You currently have 21 million account holders. What is Moneybookers doing to attract and retain new customers? What marketing methods are most profitable when it comes to attracting customers?
JA: You have to have a superior product to excel in today’s cut-throat payment systems market. Competitive fees and great customer service help. We’ve also seen a lot of customers picking up on our 1% cashback campaign this summer, where we pay 1% of the money transferred to operators back to players. This was a great promotion for our affiliates to boost their revenues and a great acquisition and reactivation tool for us.
Regulation requires us to fully identify our customers when they hit certain deposit and withdrawal levels. This can mean that you have to submit your driver’s license or passport before you can use the funds in your account. Educating our customers on these requirements and making this process as pain free as possible is one of the most vital retention tools we have.
PU: Why was Moneybookers removed as an option for withdrawal on Full Tilt? (This happened before Full Tilt’s operating licenses were suspended, effectively shutting down the company).
JA: Our customers are the most important part of our business. This is why we stopped accepting deposits to Full Tilt when we became aware that the company was not honouring customer payouts. We had been working to try to resolve this issue for our customers. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible and the suspension of Full Tilt’s operating licenses by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has validated our decision.
PU: In October 2010, Investcorp, the Bahrain-based private equity firm that owns more than half of Moneybookers, appointed Jefferies and Morgan Stanley to help organise a flotation. What happened to plans to go to public? Will we see a public listing soon?
JA: Skrill is a very healthy company. We have had compounded annual growth of about 40% for the past three years and acquired nearly 50% of our accounts just in the past year. An IPO was simply one of the options to accelerate this growth even further. But due to adverse IPO market conditions in the UK, shareholders and Skrill management have decided not to proceed with this option. Current developments in the IPO market, such as the delays of other big online corporations, support this decision.