Neteller

Neteller is an online wallet service provided by the PaySafe Group, which today also owns both their former main competitor Skrill, as well as the UKash pre-paid voucher service which has since been rebranded as PaySafeCard.

These mergers probably wouldn’t have been permitted in any other market or industry, considering that there was little to no genuine competition left once these services had been bundled together into one larger group.

The inevitable consequences of this were simple to predict: prices were largely synchronized across the three brands, except where a large disparity already existed that wasn’t raising any concern amongst their customers.

As an example, Neteller had always charged more to use their Net+ card than Skrill had asked for their equivalent ATM card, and this disparity remained in place for several years. Conversely, many of Skrill’s prices were increased to bring them in line with those of Neteller.

Today, things have changed a little; Neteller has been repositioned as more of a “premium” alternative to Skrill, with better customer support, more promotional partnerships with online gaming sites, and other benefits. Of course, nothing comes for free and Neteller’s customers can expect to pay more for cryptocurrency transactions and bank withdrawals in return for those added extras – despite the fact both services are effectively running on the same platform and server infrastructure.

Not sure what an e-wallet is?

The term “e-wallet” is used across the online gambling industry to refer to digital payment services – like Neteller, or Skrill – which allow you to deposit and withdraw from online casinos and sportsbooks without having to use your bank card or account each time.

Whilst PayPal doesn’t usually call themselves an e-wallet, they offer pretty much the same kind of services just without their focus being directed at the online gaming industry. In Europe, many online casinos do accept PayPal nowadays, although PayPal doesn’t make a big fuss about this – it appears they aren’t too keen on being strongly associated with the gambling industry.

For more details about what exactly defines an e-wallet and a little more detail on how they work and what services they offer, check out the section “What is an e-wallet?” in our payment method article on Skrill.

The Story Behind Neteller

Appearing amid the dot-com boom of the late 90s/early 2000s, Neteller is listed on Wikipedia as being formed in 1999, with the Wayback Machine first taking a snapshot of the site in late 2000. The domain had been acquired several months before this, however, so it likely took a while between the creation of the website and the time that the earliest snapshot was taken.

Online gambling was hitting its stride around this time – the first online casinos had appeared around 1996, created by CryptoLogic and Microgaming, but with zero controls or regulation in place it was a pretty dodgy pastime to take part in at that time.

Online Casinos Begin to Attract Attention

it soon attracted the attention of the US Senate, as reports of people being scammed and swindled began circulating with alarming frequency. The result of this was the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1999, which would have killed the US industry before it ever got off the ground by making it illegal to offer any form of online gambling product to a citizen of the United States.

Indeed, had this early attempt at prohibition been successful we may never have seen the resurgence of the game of Poker, many companies which built their fortunes during this era may not exist today, and the world could be markedly different than today.

Fortunately for those in the US, the wording of the proposed bill was far too general and far-reaching to find widespread support in a country renowned for allowing its citizens to choose their own path in this world – so long as they aren’t harming themselves, their communities, or the well-being of their nation overall.

Indeed, when legislation was eventually enacted in the form of 2006’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), Congress was sure to target the financial transactions involved with participating in online betting as opposed to placing limits on the freedoms and liberty of American citizens.

Neteller Spots its Market – and Pounces

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, however – the ’99 bill did not pass, allowing the booming American online gaming market to continue to flourish, for the most part, for a few more years yet. The majority of online casinos operating back then were not based in the United States, however, making it difficult for them to accept payments from American players.

Neteller was ferocious in spotting and taking advantage of this opportunity, setting up their operations in Canada in 1999 where it was straightforward to open merchant accounts with several of the largest US banks. This allowed Neteller to accept instant payments from American players, who could make wire transfers or pay with their credit cards, and the online casinos would deal directly with Neteller.

Within less than a year, Neteller was processing payments for an estimated 85% of the world’s online gambling sites – it went from Neteller seeking out customers one minute, to the casinos begging Neteller to set them up with their service – virtually overnight.

It didn’t matter how many payments Neteller was processing for each casino – every time a player made any kind of deposit or withdrawal, they would see the Neteller logo. It didn’t take long for people to start wondering “What is Neteller?”, and before long, those who didn’t offer Neteller found themselves losing the lion’s share of their business to those that did.

But why? What made Neteller such an instant success?

By acting as the middleman between the banks of the players and those of the online casinos, Neteller could provide players the ability to both deposit and withdraw their money from an online casino just as easily as a regular land-based casino.

This was a complete revelation for players who had been used to waiting several days for their checks to clear before even starting to play, and sometimes waiting several weeks to actually spend anything they had won on something in the real world.

This led many players to forego withdrawing their balances at all, instead opting to either let it ride until they had hit a truly outrageous balance or – much more likely – lost everything to the house. It didn’t matter – they were having fun, after all. But Neteller changed everything.

The company made sure to set up bank accounts in the same jurisdiction as the casinos they were taking onto their books. This made moving money simple, fast, and cheap for both parties. Casinos would push players to deposit using Neteller, as it saved them a fortune in credit card processing fees, payments to third party payment handlers, processing checks – so many expenses whisked away. The casinos were doing Neteller’s advertising for them, and Neteller was making sure that every casino that handled payments via them was saving money.

The Holy Grail – Instant Withdrawals

Casinos would keep their own Neteller account stocked up with cash, enabling them to send winnings to players within minutes of a withdrawal request being made. Neteller, in turn, would then allow those players to make an instant withdrawal to their local checking account in the States, which is where they made the majority of their profits.

Players just weren’t going to argue over a few dollars when they know their winnings will be available to spend by the time they get to the mall. Or, for those who didn’t mind waiting a few extra days, slower, cheaper bank wire options were also available.  It all sounds so brilliant, so amazing, so… perfect.

The trouble is, achieving such frankly ludicrous levels of growth and market penetration in such the smallest imaginable timeframe… well you know what they say – you never want to peak too early. From here, there was only one direction that Neteller could go in – and sadly, that was down.

The Law Catches Up with Neteller

We touched on the fact that America did eventually pass online gambling legislation in 2006, but it wasn’t the right time to talk about it further. The story of Neteller’s rise deserved to be told.

Whilst typical market forces had started to move against Neteller between 2000 and 2006, most notably in the form of extremely strong competition from Moneybookers (Now known as Skrill), it was undoubtedly the fall of the US gambling market that truly took the wind from their sails.

The passing of the UIGEA in 2006 was sudden and unexpected, catching millions of players off guard. These players should have been given adequate warning that something big was going down – after all, wasn’t that exactly what the law was trying to target? Nevertheless, the provisions of the UIGEA were tacked onto another bill, the SAFE Port Act, at the last minute.

Forced Withdrawal from the US Market

All of the biggest, publicly-traded online casinos and poker sites voluntarily withdrew from the US market at this time, so players did the natural thing and withdrew all of their funds to Neteller, not realizing that they too had just been caught in this legislative snare trap.

As a publicly-traded company, Neteller couldn’t take the risk of ignoring the new law and risking a federal indictment – the wording of the act indicated that they could not legally transfer player balances to their US bank accounts. Many of the world’s biggest Poker Pro’s found themselves with six-figure balances stuck in Neteller, with no clear indication from either Neteller or the Government as to what they could do about it.

The only silver lining for players to fall back on was the fact that, in theory, their funds were ring-fenced and being held separately from Neteller’s own company funds. Neteller did turn out to be operating fully legitimately and following all of the guidelines they should have been, and all players did eventually receive their money nine long, hard, months later.

The US Government effectively sold companies such as Neteller up the river here – Neteller sought clarification for months that they could return money to their customers without the risk of an indictment, yet the Department of Justice refused to give such assurances. This was despite stories relating to the fallout from the UIGEA now featuring regularly on the evening news, alongside interviews with players such as Phil Ivey, who had more than $1 million stuck in limbo.

Once the dust had settled, Neteller closed the accounts of their American customers and retreated to Europe to lick their wounds. They did eventually manage to consolidate their position in the market, eventually merging with their closest competitor to form the PaySafe group we know today.

The Current State – and Future – of Neteller

It would be a sad day indeed if we eventually see the loss of the Neteller brand – perhaps we will see both Skrill and Neteller retired eventually, with their former customers and accounts all merged into PaySafeCard. Over the last six years, PaySafe has chosen to keep these two monolithic brands intact, and, for the time being at least, this is their stated long-term strategy too.

You never know for sure with business, however – the UKash brand was quickly eliminated after being acquired by Skrill before the merger with Neteller. In fairness though, that decision was taken by a different company than the one we know today.

Furthermore, the UKash service was based around buying paper vouchers which made it impossible to make a withdrawal back to the same payment method you had used to make your deposit. This made it inherently incompatible with forthcoming anti-money laundering legislation in the EU, so a rebranding of the service was seen as being justified to let people know that the switch from paper vouchers to a dedicated card – the PaySafeCard – would now enable both deposits and withdrawals.

Whatever happens to the Neteller brand in the future, their story will forever remain an epic tale of a solid, customer-focused business that was all but destroyed by US government policy.

How to Deposit via Neteller

Neteller was once again ahead of the curve when it came to security on their platform. Your Neteller account has a six-digit “Secure ID” linked to it, which you are asked to select or have Neteller create a random ID on your behalf. I recommend using the random function – people tend to use birthdays, parts of phone numbers, or another simple, easy-to-guess number.

I am forever forgetting my Secure ID and sometimes end up having to create a new one each time I need to make any kind of withdrawal or transfer of my Neteller balance. When this happens, Neteller will send you an email with a link to a page where, once again, you can either choose a new Secure ID yourself or have Neteller create a randomized number for you.

Neteller has kept their Secure ID system in place to this day, despite the fact they have now added more common two-factor authentication (2FA) methods such as Google Authenticator and Authy.

I recommend setting up your account so that the Secure ID is only needed for making changes to your personal information (eg. Your email address) and then set Google Authenticator as the required 2FA method for making any payment or withdrawal. If you are on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, download Authy from the App Store as this provides equivalent functionality.

I’m all set up and secure – What next?

Once you have got everything configured the way you want, things get much simpler in the future. All being well, you shouldn’t ever need to go back and change any of the settings we have just discussed.

Go to the deposit page of the casino or sportsbook you want to deposit into and choose the Neteller payment method. You’ll be asked to enter the e-mail address of your Neteller account, how much you wish to deposit, and your Secure ID.

You’ll then be taken over to Neteller’s systems to confirm your payment. If you entered the wrong Secure ID, you won’t be able to complete your deposit, but there is a handy link to recover it here if, like me, you just can’t remember what you have set it to.

Provided your email address and Secure ID matches a Neteller account, you’ll then be shown the amount you are about to deposit, where it is being sourced from – IE, your Neteller account balance, or one of the bank accounts or debit/credit cards you have linked to your Neteller account.

Finally, you’ll need the all-important 2FA code from your authenticator app. These change every 30 seconds, so you must be quick when entering the code. Thankfully, there is a little bit of leeway if you submit the code a second or two after it has changed.

If you do get the message to say you entered the incorrect code, I recommend watching the clock spin in the authenticator app. Once the hand reaches midnight, the code will update. You now have the full 30 seconds to enter the six digits shown, which should be easy enough for anyone!

Mission Complete

Any further authentication requests from your bank notwithstanding, you should finally have completed your Neteller deposit. The new amount will appear in your casino or sportsbook account, and you can begin to place bets immediately.

Admittedly, it is a bit of a pain completing all of these steps just to make a deposit. Let’s not forget that e-wallets were originally intended to make deposits and withdrawals easier and faster!

On the other hand, the need to have access to your authentication device before any money can be transferred out of your account is an excellent way to prevent fraud. Since these systems were introduced, the number of unauthorized transactions reported to Neteller has fallen by over 80% – an enormous improvement.

In my opinion, the extra steps are worth the hassle when they are so successful at preventing money from being stolen out of Neteller accounts.

Making a Withdrawal using Neteller

The best part of using an e-wallet for your online gambling transactions has to be the super-fast withdrawals that the majority of sites provide to those using payment methods like Skrill, Neteller, and Paypal.

Most gambling sites now enforce a first-in, first-out policy on your previous payment method. This means that if you deposit $100 using Neteller, you will have to withdraw that same $100 back to Neteller before you can withdraw using an alternative method.

Most sites claim this is either a security measure or a way to stop money laundering via their website. I will admit that I don’t entirely understand how this system can prevent money laundering, but this is just the way things are.

Example Scenario

Let’s assume that you deposited $100 and have been extremely lucky and built your balance up to over $2,000.  You can send all $2,000 to Neteller if you wish, or you can make a smaller payment to Neteller and then send the rest somewhere else, such as your bank account.

You will usually only need your email address to make a Neteller withdrawal, and this is often filled in on your behalf if you already deposited using Neteller in the past. You don’t need your Secure ID or any kind of 2FA this time, as the transfer is being made between two accounts that both belong to you.

Neteller charges a hefty $8 to transfer money to your checking account, whereas most online casinos and sportsbooks don’t charge you anything at all.  For this reason, I would probably opt to send $500 to Neteller and the rest to my bank account.

The $500 sent to Neteller will often appear in your account within seconds, but if not, up to half an hour or so is another common interval and there are a few casinos who will drag their feet and take as long as a day or two to send your money. I refuse to play at any site that doesn’t pay out to e-wallets the same day, as there is no legitimate reason for any further delays than this.

As for the $1,500 sent to the bank, for me that will usually appear the next day, although up to three days is roughly the maximum these transactions should take.

Depending on where the website is based and how they choose to send the funds, your bank could charge you a fee for the incoming transfer. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced this for over four years now, which suggests that payment processors have probably improved since then.

Neteller: Frequently Asked Questions

You didn’t mention anything about Neteller’s KYC rules. What are they?

For many years, Neteller didn’t bother with this at all! The lack of Know Your Customer (KYC) verification by both Skrill and Neteller caused the majority of online gambling sites to prohibit players from receiving any kind of welcome bonus if they made their first deposit using these services.

Today, things are very different. Both Skrill and Neteller have been forced to implement KYC checks as a condition of their operating license. They now require all new customers to submit identity, proof of address, and source of funding documents before enabling real money deposits and withdrawals to and from the new account.

You could be asked to hold your passport next to your head and take a picture, or even film a short video of you saying a specific phrase such as “Hi! I’m John and I love Neteller!” … seriously. The exact steps differ from country to country, but the bottom line is that it is now much more difficult to use these e-wallets to defraud online gaming sites.

How does KYC help to stop fraud? I want to make my first deposit using Neteller, why can’t I take advantage of the welcome bonus? It seems very unfair.

Because both Skrill and Neteller allowed players to create a new account without performing sufficient Know Your Customer practices, unscrupulous gamblers would set up as many e-wallets as they liked. Funding these accounts was just a matter of transferring money from their own e-wallet to the new, fraudulent one.

If you ask a friend or family member if you can use their name to set up a new account, and you’ll split the winnings with them if you win, most people will say yes. Why not?

On the other hand, if you offer them the same deal but ask them to provide you with their passport, driving license, recent bank statements and utility bills, and a series of videos of them saying random words and phrases about banks they’ve never heard of, you’ll probably be lucky If you ever see them again! This is why KYC tends to stop most “casual” fraudsters.

The welcome bonuses offered by online gambling websites are intended to be a one-time deal. These bonuses are often much more generous than the other promotions they offer. These offers are intended to entice genuine new players to sign up and give the site a try.

In the beginning, it was just a few players multi-accounting to have multiple shots at winning big from the bonus money, but things quickly got out of hand. Whole communities sprung up online, where dishonest players formed syndicates and created strategies that would guarantee them the highest profit from these bonuses.

Once the casinos realized what was happening, they had no choice but to take immediate action. All first deposits made using both Skrill and Neteller were immediately banned from receiving any kind of welcome bonus.

Unfortunately, these rules are still enforced by the majority of online casinos. As far as I can tell, the rule is unlikely to be removed from the terms and conditions pages any time soon, despite the steps that have been taken by PaySafe to make sure players are exactly who they claim to be.

Considering what happened in 2006 with the enactment of the UIGEA, is it now safe to leave my Poker bankroll in Neteller? – I am in the US, and could not survive for several months without it.

The law you mentioned was enacted without warning, and suddenly banned any kind of funds transfer between US citizens and websites with any involvement in online betting.

As a publicly-traded company, Neteller could not simply ignore this law. At the same time, they had over a million players asking them “where is my money?”.  This was a terrible time for those who had money stuck in Neteller, not least because of the fake rumors being spread about Neteller being bankrupt, or that player funds had been spent, lost, or stolen.

Could this happen again? You never know what Congress and the President are going to do next. As mentioned earlier, the UIGEA was sneakily added to another bill, the Safe PORT Act, at the last possible moment. If you live in a state that has legalized some form of online gambling – New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, or Michigan – then you should be okay keeping your bankroll in Neteller.

Otherwise, I would find a better place to keep your money. You could convert it into cryptocurrency, for example, which looks to be on an upward trend over the long-term despite the highly volatile changes in value from week to week.

Where did Neteller go when they left North America? Are their offices still based in Canada?

After the UIGEA came into effect, Neteller knew they needed to diversify their business if they were going to survive. I’d bet my last dollar they didn’t pick their next destination by accident – Neteller relocated their offices to the Br “British Crown Dependency” known as the Isle of Man.

It’s a strange setup, a leftover sign of the old British Empire. They have an independent parliament and government, set their own laws, and even have their own, very slightly different coins and banknotes. One of the most interesting things about Man is that they never joined the EU, so Brexit certainly wasn’t an issue to those who live on this beautiful isle.

The Isle of Man offers generous tax incentives to companies like Neteller, just for operating from their territory. The appeal is so strong that countless gaming companies now have offices on Man. Many of these companies are expanding extremely quickly too, causing the economy on the isle to grow at a rate far beyond the government’s wildest dreams. Take a look:

Isle of Man GDP Graph 00'-20'

Fig1. Isle of Man GDP over the last 20 years, showing growth of over 700%

PaySafe wanted their brands to have some real prestige, something to separate them from other smaller wallets and payment services. To do this, Neteller decided to apply for a license from the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom. This was a huge step that required massive changes to their standard operating procedures, but it would all be worth it if they were able to get that prestigious, universally trusted accreditation.

Neteller had to implement rigorous KYC checks, open new bank accounts so that all customer funds were held in a separate account at a different bank, with audit privileges granted to the FCA. Neteller and Paysafe were eventually successful and proudly show the FCA logo at the bottom of their websites.

Being accredited by the FCA means that, should the company go bust, the first $85,000 in your accounts is insured. This amount should be enough for more than 90% of the people using Neteller, I would imagine. If your bankroll is larger than this, you could split it between Skrill and Neteller!

You mentioned a “Net+” card when discussing Skrill vs Neteller. How do I get the card, and is it expensive?

Neteller will happily send you a “Net+” card free of charge, but the costs of using it can be quite high. One of the big problems I’ve had is that the ATMs recognize it as being a European card, and I never know which option to pick. One time I ended up paying $16 to withdraw $30 from the ATM. I complained, but it took many weeks of stress and hassle to get it resolved.

Eventually, it was established that when my card was stolen and I called to ask for a new one, they were unable to issue a second card in the same currency until the first one was shut down completely. Instead of waiting for this to happen, they just did a new card in EUR instead! I can’t understand the way some companies operate at times.

On the other hand, cash withdrawal fees are very cheap when it’s working properly if you just want a small amount, but watch out because gets big quickly if you start getting $200, $300, $500, etc.

This is because they charge a fixed percentage of around 1.5%, regardless of how much you withdraw.  It is often better to send the money to your bank account first, then withdraw it from there – free of charge.

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