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Emily D. Swoboda

URU Addresses One of the Industry's Biggest Needs

28 December 2005

Online gambling companies are enlisting the help of the GB Group, a U.K.-based data services company, to help fortify the fight against Internet fraud and underage gambling. The company in November launched a portal ( offering the latest news and advice on combating identity fraud and money laundering; it also serves as a promotional tool for the group's URU identification verification service.

Eighteen months in the making and formally launched in January 2004, URU is a Web-based comprehensive data authentication system developed by the GB Group and delivered through British Telecom Web service. It has three main components--fraud prevention, age and ID verification and money laundering prevention--and is designed to enable as many legitimate customers to gain access to online gaming sites as possible.

In its short life, URU has been recognized as "Best Compliance Solution" in the 2005 Banking Technology Awards and commended in the Best Knowledge Management Solution category at the 2005 Information Management Awards.

Betting exchange Betfair, which in November won the Most Socially Responsible Operator award at the 2005 inaugural eGaming Review Award ceremony in London, was the first company to take advantage of the service, signing on in early 2005. Other clients include, 32Red and Skybet.

Mark Davies, director of communications for Betfair, said his company has been particularly impressed by the system's efficiency.

"[URU provides] an almost real-time check on U.K. customers," Davies said of the benefits. "It is far less intrusive for customers than manual KYC (where customers have to send in copies of passports or driving licenses, utility bills and debit/credit cards). Customers do not need to actively participate at all in the checks."

In terms of age verification and keeping underage gamblers off gaming Web sites, Davies said URU provides outstanding protection.

"Whilst I don't believe we've had many underage users trying to open accounts, URU is a tool that provides a timely way to detect if they are under 18 and hence we can close their account quickly," Davies said.

Karyn Bright, marketing manager of GB Group's data authentication division, says URU is the only ID fraud prevention solution that was specifically developed to check the identities of customers. "Particularly in a non face-to-face environment," Bright said, "it is vital for businesses to know who their customers are--that they are genuine customers and not fraudsters or, in the gaming industry, underage or problem players."

In designing the product, GB took particular care in addressing identity theft and fraud--one of the most serious problems borne of the cyber age. (Case in point: According to statistics provided by CIFAS, England's fraud prevention service, the number of identity fraud cases between January and September 2005 was up almost 15 percent from the same period last year, from 52,566 to 60,241.) URU combats fraud by instantaneously cross-referencing customer information against multiple sources of identification verification, checking on key statistics such as address, telephone number and voter registration or credit reports. If the URU system has difficulty matching a client's identity through the aforementioned methods, it can verify more private, sensitive forms of identification, such as passports, driver’s licenses, or credit cards. The results are immediately returned to the operator, who can then determine whether it should approve or disapprove the potential customer.

"It acts as a deterrent to some fraudsters--the more informed ones at least--especially if they don't have all a genuine cardholder's details, " Davies explained, "as they may know they will fail the URU checks."

URU Addresses One of the Industry's Biggest Needs is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda