Many thanks to all those who submitted questions – they are reproduced below (with author, where a name or username was supplied) along with answers from relevant members of staff.
We trust everyone found the information useful – as there were no further questions submitted we’re hopeful that the new format for the Q&A meant we were able to deal with all your concerns in sufficient detail.
There will be another Q&A session in the New Year.
What new security measures will you be introducing? Have you considered upping the number of IP Addresses used to access your account? Showing just 10 IP Address is nowhere near enough, especially if you use the API. (RTTF, Edinburgh) At a previous Q&A, you gave an answer that the option to be emailed/SMS if sensitive data is changed on the site i.e., password changes, address changes, bank/credit cards added to account etc, would be added in the first quarter of the current financial year. Therefore, this is seriously behind schedule. Has this been dropped/how long extra will it take? (Getafix) If there are no plans to improve the "My Security" page, please could we have a list of all distinct IP addresses with the last time it was used to login? It would also be useful if there was an api call that could request such info too? (Getafix)
We have a programme of work under way to deliver a number of customer security enhancements. Some of the smaller improvements have been delivered already with more significant improvements arriving in the New Year and throughout 2012. We’ve made some recent changes whereby Betfair e-mails you to let you know if any of the following have changed: your account password, your security questions, your payment methods. The other improvements mentioned are already on our plans. Mike – Security Architect
What stops your employees from memorising my betting details, writing them down, copying them, taking screen shot pictures on their I-phone etc and then going home and spending some time replicating what I do? (RTTF, Edinburgh)
There is extensive monitoring of staff access to customer personal information and betting activity, with any identified unusual activity fully investigated. The betting activity of staff is also thoroughly monitored, and any activity which may be related to the betting activity of customers is fully investigated. This monitoring also extends to any accounts shown to be linked to those of staff members (e.g. friends and family accounts). Ian – Manager, Security
I’ve asked before if we can have a tighter login to the website, i.e., what banks use i.e., select letters from a memorable word/password from drop down boxes etc - this makes it more difficult for keyloggers to pick this info up. I was told it was being looked at. This "letter selection" suggestion is one of the most basic measures and would have put my mind at more ease with the recent DNS hack that was out of your hands. Have you made any progress? (Getafix)
In view of all the problems, please explain why you haven't adopted more stringent password controls, ie similar to banks if only as an opt-in possibility for those who wish it? (DW)
It is apparent that the vast majority of customers would like to see security tokens available for the log in process (one time code generators like the ones Moneybookers/Skill currently use), at least as an optional measure. Is this something Betfair has looked at in the past, and if not, can it be put forward for consideration some time soon?
As part of the customer security enhancements programme we are progressing PIN-based authentication for mobiles, and two factor authentication solutions. Our aim is for our customers to be able to decide which solutions are right for them. We are anticipating that these services will become available in 2012. Mike - Security Architect
You have said previously that you were evaluating the possibility of changing the whole site to https. How did that evaluation go and is this still a possibility? (Getafix)
Yes, we are committed to moving everything to HTTPS! We are re-platforming our web servers to deliver faster page display times. We are still working on full-site SSL and will deliver it along with our new web server platform. Mike – Security Architect
When are you going to improve security on the site? Betfair's site has several notable security vulnerabilities, and has been subject to successful hacks, data breaches and other failures, as highlighted not so long ago by the press. Betfair have not commented on these incidents to their users. So, what is Betfair doing? Why has the only visible change recently been to *decrease* user's security by removing the 'restrict logins to a country' feature?
Betfair site security is under continual review and improvement. In relation to the data breach Betfair has made comment in both the media and in our Customer Commitment which is publicly available: “Customers may have seen press speculation regarding a data loss from Betfair. We'd like to confirm that 18 months ago we were subject to an attempted data theft. The data was encrypted and we were able to recover the data intact. There has been no known fraudulent activity relating to any of the data. This matter was fully investigated and Betfair followed the advice of the relevant industry regulators in Malta, the UK and Australia as well as our acquiring bank, MasterCard, VISA and the Information Commissioners Office. Betfair has also been working with law enforcement authorities. We have subsequently implemented all of the recommendations from the independent reports we commissioned.” Betfair takes information security very seriously and we are committed to providing a secure service for our customers. We are ISO 27001 certified, and in recent months have passed all intermediate ISO 27001 audits that have taken place. Maintaining ISO 27001 certification involves a rolling programme of intermediate and recertification audits in different countries; recent recertification audits have taken place in Romania, Australia and Malta. ISO 27001 is the international standard for information security management systems. In addition Betfair is fully PCI compliant. Paul, Director of Corporate Security
What are you doing about Betfair's terrible website page load times? Why is your website performance so abymsal? For a web-based company, this seems unacceptable. What are you doing about it? What targets do you have for page load times?
We agree. After stability, a fast website is the most important ‘feature’ for our customers. Fifteen seconds. That’s the length of time it takes to solve a Rubik’sCube one handed. Or to escape from a straightjacket twice. Or the length of time it takes our Sports Homepage to load for new visitors on average. By any measure, that’s not good enough. Which is why Betfair has committed to improving the performance of our website. We want to deliver pages much faster. In under three seconds. Three seconds is not only reasonable, it is achievable while still providing a rich, interactive experience that doesn’t compromise the features and value we offer our customers. This three-second commitment is core to our site development strategy and is a promise we've made to our customers in our Customer Commitment (promotions.betfair.com/customer-commitme...). For us, this is all summed up in our mantra of Fast – We Promise (views.betfair.com/2011/06/fast-we-promis...). And this isn't all talk. Check out our new, faster experience for Football on our beta site: beta.betfair.com/football. We hope you'll agree the faster site makes a real difference in our web experience. Phil, Director of Development
I love your new way of informing people when a match cannot be offered in-play. It’s an excellent innovation, but you don’t always use it. Could you make it consistent and inform us of every match that won’t go in-play? (RTTF, Edinburgh)
It is our aim to update customers via the forum of all games which are scheduled to be turned in-play but are subsequently suspended at kick-off. We endeavour to keep this information timely, however the most accurate reference point for our in-play offering for any given day is the in-play coupon. Alex, Head of Market Operations
Can you tell me why when there is a no- runner in a field of 11, which brings the field down to 10, you do not offer forecast betting? This is apparent even when a horse is withdrawn well before start time. (Ray Lawrence)
If we become aware of a non-runner which reduces a field to 10, it is our policy to create a new forecast market if the non-runner is known before 11am on the day of the race. Alex, Head of Market Operations
There's always a lot of suspicion when someone plays a set in a tennis match, then promptly retires. Why not change the rule to one set plus one ball? It would make it so obvious there's something fishy if someone does that, and would prevent people taking a dive after one set.
At the present time we would not consider a change to a ‘plus one ball’ rule. Given the range of tournaments and accompanying feeds, unfortunately it would not always be possible to confirm whether the additional point had been played, something which is obviously necessary for the rule to work. Alex, Head of Market Operations
I have been betting on nearly every horse race this year using your Live Video and I can honestly say that the suspension sign appears more often than not when the winner has its head on the line and as you will know, Betfair Live Video is about 2-3 seconds behind the live action. When I watch on Channel 4 analogue the suspension sign appears about 2-3 seconds after the winner crosses the line. When the race starts the suspension sign appears before the gates open, so it appears there is utmost integrity at the start of races but not at the end. Can you explain how or what actions you use to suspend the markets as it seems a bit inconsistent?
It is obviously in our interest to have accuracy and integrity in managing our markets. We have been refining our management procedures for horse racing for a number of years and are confident we use reliable systems to ensure the timely suspension at both the start and end of races. If there are any particular examples you have where you do not feel this to be the case, we are happy to investigate. Alex, Head of Market Operations
Can you please improve the 'Void/lapsed bet' emails that you send out automatically when bets are cancelled (often due to markets not closing on time)? The email lists the named bets, but does not list the name of the market! This makes it almost impossible to work out what race or event it is talking about. Is there any chance that this might be fixed?
We recognise that the current notification sent to customers when bets have been void lacks a number of details and includes some which are not necessarily relevant. We have been reviewing this communication for some time and are planning a change to the notification which addresses the issue you cite (and others). We hope to implement the changes shortly but currently don’t have a date when this will be deployed. Alex, Head of Market Operations
You have said previously that having an exposure limit at market/selection level is too complex and would slow the site down. Is that still your opinion? Security and detection would be enhanced as long as exposure level changes took, say, three days to become effective. (Getafix)
It’s not something that would particularly slow the site down, although it is also something we have not had many requests for before. In fact, this is the first time I’ve personally heard of anyone ask for it. It’s not something that we are planning to introduce at the moment. Iain, Sports Product Mathematician
Recently there have been many occasions in the soccer markets where the market suspends and the score changes only for it to be changed back again. Is anything being done to make the score more reliable? I'd rather wait 30 more seconds and have a reliable score make a trade based on wrong information. (Stuart, London)
The reason we sometimes add a goal and then remove it is due to a scout from Runningball (our live score supplier) at the game indicating a goal has been scored. If this goal subsequently was disallowed or was not actually a goal they would update this information and this would be reflected within the score. This is a by product of having real time scores. Liam, Sports Product Manager
Can you implement a consistent suspend policy (eg sometimes market doesn't suspend and odds change, sometimes they suspend for 5 minutes)? (Stuart, London)
Markets are suspended at the time of a material event (goal, red card or penalty). Recently, we have doubled our in-play football offering and consequently use a wider variety of feeds to manage fixtures. Occasionally, whilst a game is in progress we can lose a feed and as a matter of due course, suspend relevant markets until any issues are resolved. This would explain any lengthy suspension outside of a material event. We monitor the quality of our feeds on an on-going basis to ensure such issues are kept to a minimum. Alex, Head of Market Operations
Can you provide a notification reason for suspending markets for every suspend - eg loss of feed, event action, system problems etc? (Stuart, London)
Thanks for your suggestion, we appreciate how this would be beneficial for customers. At the moment, our market management tools do not cater for this however we will keep the suggestion in mind and give it due consideration in the future. Alex, Head of Market Operations
Why does Betfair not pay back profits from cross-matching to its users? Why do you keep the money you make from it to yourselves, and not redistribute it like in Australia?
The regulator of the exchange operated by Betfair Australia has different regulations and stipulations than our regulators in Gibraltar and Malta James, Legal Counsel
Why do I have a discount on my commission paid after individual winning bets, when at the end of the week I have to make up for the difference on 20% of gross profits, and as of next week 40%? This isn't about having to pay the PC. My problem is that I receive a gift in the form of a discount rate on commission, yet at the end of the week it means nothing because I'm paying the PC. Is there any way of disabling this discount rate so as I'm charged a flat 5% on all winning bets? Or even better, is there a way of setting our own rate of commission in My Account? (Jim)
Although they work hand-in-hand, Premium Charge and commission affect a single bet in a different way. For example, suppose someone is prepared to lay ‘Heads’ in a fair coin toss at 2.05. On average, a customer taking that bet with a 5% commission and no Premium Charge would expect to be down more often after 10,000 spins than a customer paying 0% commission and 90% Premium Charge. The fact that you have worked your way up the discount rate ladder means that you benefit from a reduced commission rate and therefore more opportunities to take value bets. Premium Charge at 20% ensures that Betfair at least breaks-even on the activities of all customers. The higher rates of PC were recently put in place so that consistently profitable customers pay a price that reflects the benefit derived from the service provided. Betfair do not often receive requests to reduce a customer’s discount rate and would not under any circumstances consider removing the requirement to pay a minimum % of profits. Increasing your commission rate would put you in either an identical position (net) or worse off (more likely). Tom, Pricing Manager
With regard to the recently introduced premium charges at higher rates (40% to 60%) why do you ignore the type of exchange activity for each customer and its impact on market liquidity? A customer that provides greater liquidity by offering best prices, particularly in thin markets, must be more valuable to Betfair than a customer that generally takes offered prices thereby continually reducing the available liquidity. Your main competitor recognises this and offers very low commission rates to customers that primarily offer prices rather than taking those already available.
Betfair’s exchange wouldn’t function without a critical mass of users both putting up bets and taking them down. With regards to the premium charge, the only relevant factors are the profits a customer wins in the long-term and the commission he generates in the process. Whether a customer is consistently profitable by offering prices or taking prices doesn’t affect the underlying cost to Betfair of providing the service. Very few consistently profitable customers are solely price-makers or price-takers so promoting one behaviour over the other would be impractical even if it was desirable. Tom, Pricing Manager
The Live Video service you provide is excellent, especially since the delay on pictures from the Racing Channels (ATR in particular) has been increased. However it has been consistently been performing badly over the last few months (various problems have occurred including stuttering pictures, delayed video [even worse than the television], pictures not even appearing for a particular event, pictures pausing during an event and events finishing on the Live Video service before they have even started or been completed. Why do these things happen? Other companies with the same supplier do not seem to have anything like the same problems. (Martin Baker)
Thanks for your feedback: we know that recently the performance of the product has not been of the quality that we would expect to deliver to our customers. That is regrettable and we understand the frustration of customers. We are aiming to improve the Live Video offering in the near future and at the moment we are focusing on improving the monitoring of the product, capturing issues and communicating any problems to customers. We aim to work more closely with our internal technical teams and partners to address faults with the system in a more efficient manner and in the long term to provide the best Live Video experience possible to customers. Toby, Racing Product Specialist
When will customers see an end to the increasing number of different problems that occur almost daily with your Live Video service? (Drew, Birmingham)
We acknowledge that performance has been less than optimum in recent months and we are putting in place measures to monitor and improve the video service. We are allotting more resource to Live Video to try to identify issues more promptly and are engaging with the technical teams to improve performance. Toby, Racing Product Specialist
Is there any chance Live Video pictures can be speeded up any more? (Martin Baker)
We’re currently working with all of our streaming partners to identify where we can reduce the delays on Live Video even more; it’s always a trade-off in trying to providing streams which are both quick and clear. Where speed can be improved it is often at the detriment to picture quality and we’re working to get the right balance between the two. Will, Head of Commercial Operations
You have stated in previous Q&A sessions that Betfair have tried to work with the television companies to reduce the delay in the pictures being broadcast, it is understandable that it may not be possible to speed up the pictures through the television (Sky), but i have read how RUK and SIS are going to be using fibre optics to transmit the pictures in the next few months. Have Betfair been speaking to these companies to get a direct feed using fibre optic cables to transmit the pictures through the internet to home users which would reduce the delay , as nearly everyone has broadband internet connections now? If you haven't been speaking to them, why not?
We are always working with our partners to improve the quality and speed of streaming. RUK are one of our selected partners and therefore all methods of streaming (including fibre optic cables) are being reviewed and we hope to improve our service in partnership with them. As you may be aware, recent work with another partner, At The Races, has resulted in a decrease in the delay on live video streams and we hope to continue this across all partners and sports shortly. Will, Head of Commercial Operations
Will you be providing a stream to watch the Australian racing on Betfair Live Video with similar delays to what we have at the moment?
We would certainly like to offer more Australian racing and have obviously been trialling it over the spring carnival and in the build-up to the Melbourne Cup. We are currently looking at the commercial rights around Australian racing including the potential delays we may encounter but would not look to offer them until we are confident that the delays are at least at the same level as UK racing. Will, Head of Commercial Operations
Why when you click on a horse to back, just before a race/or in running when time is important, and the price is acceptable, so you put the cursor straight into the stake box...and then just as you are about to enter your stake and place your bet...what happens? ...the cursor returns to the odds box and the stake you entered has actually been entered as odds? Why has still not been sorted???? (phil44)
This is not something we have found easy to replicate (in other words, actually ‘make’ the same problem occur on our screen so we can see what happens for ourselves). However, we accept that it is very frustrating – the good news is that we will shortly be moving to a new platform with a new bet-slip, and we will be working to make sure this problem does not occur. Fergus, Racing Product Manager
Why are the prices on multiples substantially shorter than the same Team/person etc as singles? (Onehundredandeighty)
Unlike the exchange, when a customer places a bet on the multiples product, the customer is betting against Betfair. With Betfair multiples the difference between the exchange price and the multiples price is known as the margin. Every sports betting operator applies a margin to each runner in a market, that is how the operator makes a profit in the long term. If we were to offer exchange prices in the multiples product, once we take into account operating costs, the product would be likely to make an overall operating loss. Although the difference in the exchange price and the multiples price may seem substantial on occasions, regular odds comparison exercises on featured high-profile multiples have demonstrated that Betfair multiples is consistently best in market for horse racing, and market leading for football. John, Trading Team Manager.
Why does Betfair charge 5% commission & give poor prices on multiple bets? Surely 5% commission is enough without taking 10% and sometimes more off the exchange prices? Do you not think that Betfair is taking customers for a ride on multiples? Betfair is charging more than bookmakers with these bets. (Boogiecat)
In terms of offering poor prices in the multiples product, regular odds comparison exercises on featured high profile multiples, have demonstrated that Betfair multiples is consistently best or second best price available in the industry. Betfair is aware that once commission is added to the price, we become less competitive. As a result, Betfair is currently reviewing this with one of the potential outcomes being the possibility of scrapping commission on Betfairs multiples / sportsbook offering. John, Trading Team Manager.
Why don’t you only activate new Betfair customers forum posting rights once the account has been funded, to reduce the number of banned members instantly reappearing on the forum?
We have identified a need to tighten up the process for joining the Betfair Community, and we are currently in the midst of work to do that. Hopefully, once complete, the sort of issues you talk about in your question will no longer be a problem. Andrew, Global Community Manager
When are Betfair going to make faster payments to customers when they withdraw funds? Every bank now has this facility (free of charge) and there is no acceptable reason for money to take up to four days to reach one's bank account. (4thjulykid)
There would be little chance of us or any gaming company using faster payment services (FPS) for card transactions for these reasons: • It doesn’t exist for card payments. FPS is a Bank Transfer payment system (with Sort Code, account number needed to complete a transaction) • There is no recall facility (once the payment is made that’s it, therefore the risk and potential liability would be too large) • There is an upper value limit on all FPS transactions (some banks only allowing a max of £1000 per transaction) • It is for GBP accounts only Angelo, Payments Specialist
Why is the BF customer service so bad? You almost never respond, by action, to the Site Feedback forum. (phil44)
We are always striving to give the best possible customer service, and continually look at ways to improve it. Therefore, I’m sorry that you feel we are not delivering a good service. We do regularly check the Site Feedback area of the Community and one of the Community Managers will respond to general points wherever possible, however many of the issues raised are particular to an individual customer and it’s not always appropriate for us to comment on a public forum. On these occasions we will endeavour to contact the customer directly but unfortunately this can occasionally lead to a delay. I would urge any customer with a specific account problem, query or question to contact our Help Desk (Telephone 0844 871 0000) or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org as this is the quickest way to get a response. Phil, Head of Customer Service
CASH OUT NOW
The CashOut button does not give the correct amount based on odds available. Why? (Stuart, London)
The Cash Out button calculates its offer using the second best back prices and second best lay prices. This is to protect customers against unmatched bets in fast moving markets. If the better prices are still available once bets are submitted then these will be given to the customer through best execution. In other words the customer will always get the best prices available when using Cash Out. Mike – Sports Product Team
Can you enhance the CashOut to weight the green-up on each side of an event (eg under 0, over 100)? (Stuart, London)
We have plans for the progression of Cash Out, and other trading tools to be released over the next year. We will communicate these to customers pending release. These plans will include the ability to weight your position in favour of given runners. Mike – Sports Product Team