Last updated: 6 April 2021
As popular as bank cards are, they have one particular disadvantage that is the main issue for most casino players. By using them, you’re sharing all your personal information with casino sites. This can be a problem, even if you only stick to reputable ones, as you never know when a data breach might happen, leading to your name, surname, phone number, and other info being available to hackers and other criminals.
Fortunately, payment methods like Sofort exist to solve this problem. Acting as an intermediary between the casino and your bank, this platform scans, analyzes, and approves your transfers before the money reaches the casino from your bank, and vice-versa. Sofort is not an eWallet per se, as it doesn’t actually store any of the funds you’re sending. Thus, it can be considered an advantageous tool that is necessary for retaining safety while playing at online casinos. In this Sofort review, we’ll analyze this Klarna-owned brand in detail. We’ll focus on all the essential aspects of the platform, in addition to presenting the best Sofort casinos. Afterwards, you’ll be ready to enjoy gambling with fast and secure money transfers.
Sofort GmBH (which is basically German for LLC – Limited Liability Company) was founded in 2005 by Markus Neun and Christoph Klein. It was initially envisioned to be an offshoot of Eurosoft, a trading company that had quite a bit of success in Germany. The idea was nothing short of revolutionary at the time – a payment service that serves as an intermediary between banks, customers, and merchants. Concealing one’s identity was unheard of in 2005, so everyone wanted to try out Sofort and use its security-related benefits to shield themselves from identity theft and other forms of fraud.
Thus, they became their own company, once Eurosoft’s success was eclipsed relatively quickly. Year after year, they signed more contracts with merchants, eCommerce sites, and gained customers at a breathtaking rate. In 2014, they were acquired by Swedish bank/eWallet Klarna and became a subsidiary of this financial giant. Today, they serve more than 85 million customers in 16 European countries, employing just over 200 people.
Sofort is currently available in the following 16 countries: United Kingdom, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Obviously, this is a much narrower area of available that that of PayPal (200 countries) or ecoPayz (154 countries and territories). While this can be considered a major downside by some players, we’re not ready to write Sofort off for this reason. Why are we being so lenient, you ask?
Well, at CasinoBankingMethods, we believe that availability is not the most important thing in the world. Sure, it’s a bummer to not have the ability to use Sofort’s services across different continents, but the quality of service is more important to a platform than being available for use everywhere. It’s better to have a proper framework, pay attention to security features, and be reliable than to offer a mediocre product to hundreds of millions of people, resulting in a very small percentage of those people actually being happy with the services.
Sofort’s target markets are obviously north and central Europe. However, given the fact that their parent company, Klarna, is available in the USA, there is a chance that North America will be the first major test market that Sofort will venture into. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but we’ll update this page as soon as Sofort officially confirms any form of expansion, in Europe or elsewhere.
No account required
Yes, you read that right – Sofort does not require you to create an account in order to use their services. In fact, there is no such thing as a Sofort account. The reason for such a situation is the fact the company does not store any funds at all, not even for a second.
Instead, they use a system called ‘mediated transferring’, which involves Sofort functioning as an added party in the classic transfer process. In contrast, immediate transfers function on the principle of the payer/account holder and the bank being the only parties involved in the transactions. You, the payer, have to transmit the authentication factors (PIN, TAN, or otherwise) on your own.
You need a bank account compatible with Sofort platform
In the case of Sofort, things are a bit different. When looking to make a deposit at an online casino, you are not transferring the money from any account other than your current bank one. That’s it, really. You only have to have a functioning bank account.
Sofort only works for members of selected banks in countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland. If you do not hold an account with any of the banks involved, you have to visit one of them and open an account if you pretend to use Sofort as your casino deposits “intermediary”. Some of the banks that have integrated Sofot into their payment processing engine are Barclays, Santander, Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Metro Bank, Yorkshire Bank, Deutsche Handelsbank and Demo Bank, but there are many other options.
Log in to Sofort and access your bank account
Using the Sofort platform, you will effectively log into that bank account and give approval for the funds to be transferred. This is the same as depositing money directly via your bank account, with the only difference being that no online casinos will be able to see any of your personal information. Being in possession of just your name and the account number is not nearly enough for your funds or data to be compromised. Also, these are the same things needed to log into Sofort Banking when making a deposit.
When you select to pay through Sofort at your selected casino site, you will be redirected to Sofort Banking’s online environment. Here, you need to choose your country and bank. Proceed to log in with your existing online banking credentials (e.g. PIN and TAN, which stands for transaction number) to see your account(s) status and balance. Choose the account you want to transfer the payment from, in case you have more than one account.
Approve the transfer
Finally, confirm the payment, and you will get returned to the casino site and receive an immediate confirmation of the transfer. In most cases, you will need to enter the confirmation code received from the bank (via SMS) in order to validate the transfer.
Like we’ve already mentioned, you don’t need to open any kind of profile to make Sofort deposits. The only requirement to use this payment method is to have a valid bank account in your name.
In order to add money to your account balance, do the following:
- Go to the casino’s banking section
- Select Sofort as your preferred method of payment
- Fill out the deposit form with the necessary details, including the amount of money you wish to transfers
- Once you confirm the transfer on the casino site, you will be redirected to Sofort’s banking page
- There, enter your name and bank account number
- Log into your eBanking page, acquire the transaction number and enter it on Sofort’s page to finalize the transaction
After completing the following steps, the money should be in your account.
Now, it’s time to address the elephant in the room, the fact that Sofort cannot be used for withdrawals. This is a big minus, but there’s a reason for the lack of this basic feature. Sofort does not hold any funds, so it’s not possible to store your casino winnings there. Instead, you can use a credit card, or another eWallets, such as PayPal or Skrill. Don’t worry, you will still be safe from fraud, if you opt to use one of our recommended Sofort casinos.
You will be delighted to hear that Sofort has never imposed any sort of fees on casino players, and they’re still adamant in keeping this business model working. This complete lack of expenses is one of the reasons why Sofort has become one of the leading casino payment platforms in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
Even though other eWallets such as PayPal are more prominent, players love the fact that they don’t have to think about anything other than the games they’re playing. There is also a financial benefit to all this, especially if you’re a high-roller. Paying 2-3% on every big transaction you make can add up to gargantuan amounts over the course of just a year.
So, how does Sofort sustain itself then? Well, the company supports itself by charging merchants with a small cut of all the funds that go through the Sofort banking service. Many online casinos are willing to be subjected to this due to the immense popularity of this platform’s fee-less way of operating.
Another great thing about Sofort is the lack of unnecessary processing protocols. Believe it or not, many casino players are willing to abandon even the most reliable payment methods if they’re forced to wait a lot of time for their transactions to clear. Obviously, this is yet another reason why Sofort has skyrocketed in terms of popularity in recent years.
Usually, when you complete the deposit process, the money will be immediately added to your account balance. However, you can also expect to encounter an extra delay if the casino has an identity verification protocol in place. It may take a day or two to process your document scans, but most sites only impose this on your very first withdrawal.
Since Sofort does not give you the ability to withdraw money at online casinos, we’ll just focus on deposits. Usually, you will see that casinos are the ones that dictate the limits, not the company itself. However, they still have to abide by the rules laid out by Sofort.
As of late 2020, the minimum deposit you can make is €1, while the maximum deposit limit is €2,000. Honestly, we’re not that impressed by this. It’s good enough for 90% of casino players but effectively discriminates against high-rollers, as well as individuals who like to conduct their sports betting activities on the same site where they play casino games.
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Sofort is great when it comes to security and they take their role of being an intermediary very seriously. All transactions are completed and verified on Sofort’s secure payment form platform, without the merchant/casino ever having access to even a tidbit of your information.
In addition to this, all transactions have to be verified using a single-use, six-digit transaction number (TAN) and your bank account PIN. This form of two-factor authentication is nearly bulletproof, especially when you consider the fact that Sofort uses 256-bit SSL encryption to shield all transactions. The company is also regularly audited by third-party security companies.
As it is a subsidiary of Klarna now, all inquiries related to Sofort go through their parent company. Therefore, you can contact Klarna if you have any issues. The ‘first line of defence’ is the FAQ section. At first glance, it does seem a little underwhelming, but it actually has one of the best quantity-quality ratios of all the FAQs we’ve encountered.
If you can’t find a resolution to your problem there, you can contact one of Klarna’s agents via email or phone. The working hours for both methods of correspondence are 9AM – 6PM (Mon-Fri) and 10AM – 5PM (Sat-Sun). All times are CET.
Our experience with Sofort support
Besides a neat, well-organized FAQ page, there are two ways to contact Sofort (Klarna). They offer a range of local European numbers, or if you prefer, you can send a question using an online form. If you don’t have Transaction-ID and IBAN, you can’t submit the form.
We, therefore, decided to email them. We received a reply two days later, and the support answered our question with just one sentence. Our problem wasn’t that simple, so we expected more details.
Then we tested Twitter and messaged them at @AskKlarna. The response came after a couple of hours, and Daniel was very kind to provide us with detailed information on Sofort and when to use it. We didn’t ask this, but this was all we could get from them.
We always emphasize the importance of this section, as player reviews are an important measure of every payment method’s success. No matter how much fun we have using a certain platform, it doesn’t matter if the actual players are having a hard time making transfers. While we didn’t have any negative experiences while using Sofort, the general consensus is not as nearly as positive as our impressions.
There are numerous accounts of players not seeing their money for weeks, while some have even reported seeing no response from Sofort whatsoever. Even merchants have chimed in with their bad experiences with Klarna/Sofort’s customer support team. We even read about cases when people were defrauded, and Sofort refused to revoke transactions or give them their money back.
What’s even worse is that Sofort hasn’t claimed their profile on Trust Pilot, which is pretty much mandatory for every financial service that sees its traffic occur exclusively online. All of this indicates that Sofort doesn’t care about its customers, their needs, and their problems.
Unless they pull a 180, and completely revamp and repair their relationship with people who use the service, we can’t recommend Sofort to anyone. Again, we didn’t experience anything bad, but many other customers did.
Sadly, Sofort does not offer many extra features. The ones they do offer are mostly merchant-oriented. From a business standpoint, this makes perfect sense, as casinos and other online businesses are the only sources of revenue the company has. Still, we believe that this is no excuse for not going above and beyond to impress casino players.
The competition in the eBanking world is getting stiffer with each day, which basically means that companies have to add new features if they want to increase their customer base.
However, Klarna’s Buyer Protection is one feature that’s worth mentioning. It’s a special policy of Sofort’s parent company that allows you to request a return if the services you were promised weren’t completed/delivered. Technically, this also applies to online casinos, but we weren’t able to find the company’s policy on how this actually works in the gambling industry.
Sofort is not a payment provider that stores or keeps casino players’ money, so don’t offer mobile apps for Android or iOS devices. This does sound like a bummer, but we can’t really blame them for not doing something that is technically useless or impossible.
Still, you can complete transactions using your mobile browser. Whether it’s Safari, Google Chrome, or another app, Sofort works smoothly, and it’s very simple to deposit money to any and all online casinos. Of course, you can still use your banking app to confirm the transaction. Overall, it’s a nice experience, albeit unusual when compared to most payment platforms.
- According to one survey from 2018, 72% of all Germans use Sofort to make online purchases.
- Sofort is used by 30,000 merchants across Europe on a monthly basis.
- Approximately 3 million Sofort transactions are made each month.
- Sofort is big in its native Germany (Munich-based). German consumers often prefer not to pay via card. It is estimated that 61% of payments in the country are made by either e-wallet or bank transfer and 72% of users in Germany browse online and make purchases via Sofort.
- The local dominance and ease of integration make Sofort a must for any e-commerce operation in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland).
- Transactions with Sofort are done in real-time, but there are some exceptions whereby the transaction cannot be 100% guaranteed. This applies for less than 1% of the total volume. The reason for this is that Sofort is a bank-independent interface and can’t control the functionalities on the page hosted by the user’s bank.
- Sofort means “immediately” or “right away” translated from German.
If you play at one of our recommended sites, which are all licensed and regulated, you should have no worries. The platform itself also has a plethora of security features, and there have been no data breaches or scandals involving the company.
No, you can’t make Sofort withdrawals at casino sites. This is because Sofort does not actually hold or keep the money – it’s merely a mediator between you, the site, and the bank.
Check out our ‘Target Markets’ section for more information. Currently, it is only available in 16 European countries.
No. They are only available 9PM-6PM on weekdays and 10AM-5PM on weekends.
There are virtually no restrictions on bonuses when it comes to Sofort deposits, meaning Sofort users will have a great selection of bonus deals to select from.
MuchBetter has a lower currency conversion rate than banks, only 0.99%. This fee applies for conversion between USD/EUR/GBP. For other currencies, the app uses FX rates. The currency exchange rates are updated daily. Check the rates in the app before making a transaction.
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