BetFair, the world's biggest online betting site, has launched a free server-connected iPhone app that allows punters to make and take bets on the move.
The launch today on Apple's App Store is part of a wider initiative by BetFair to "mobilise" its business. Charlie Palmer, who heads BetFair's mobile projects, says the company already supports browser-based apps on Symbian and Blackberry, as well as Android. There will be more, he says, as the firm's internal mobile app team ramps up.
The new app is driven via BetFair's Exchange server. This gives the company better control over authentication and verification of clients, making it almost impossible for under-age people to use its facilities, said Palmer.
It also makes better use of the iPhone's capabilities, in particular the GPS locator. This enables BetFair to allow bets only from authorised jurisdictions. So far only the UK is enabled, meaning that customers who travel to the US will not be able to place bets and so will not risk being locked up for breaking local laws.
Unlike other online betting shops, BetFair acts as an agent in putting together backers and layers, making gaming cheaper for players, it claims. The 10 years old firm last month signed up its three-millionth customer. It processes more than six million transactions a day, on which it earned £72m on sales of £303m in 2009.
According to Palmer, BetFair's mobile customers are up 40% on last year, and revenues from mobile customers are up 50%. This is in line with the wider trend the firm sees towards the consumption of more goods and services via mobile platforms.
Palmer said the development of non-gaming sectors was being held back by competition between banks and network operators for a slice of the mobile payments market. He said Europe was way behind Japan, where Docomo had the market share to set standards.
"But because online gaming works on credit and debit cards and accounts, we are largely immune from that," he said.