Nacho Frade our Country Manager – Spain, reveals at Sector del Juego why digital transformation is essential and why is the timing right for a cashless payment option.
- Why digital transformation is essential and how do digital payments play a key role?
As digitalisation reaches its next phase this also accelerates digital payments. During the pandemic, the catchall term – digital transformation – has taken on even heightened importance in our “new normal” as digital strategy is the key to improve both the retail business operations and satisfy customers despite their demographics. The adoption of digital technologies in the land-based landscape has sped up by three to five years in just months. And this is also the case for the land-based gaming and betting industry, with gaming operators accelerating efforts in favor of digital strategy for their businesses.
Why now? Consumers are the driver and now can be characterized as digitally native. Even consumers who are laggards in the adoption curve have been forced to change their behaviors in the COVID era, and many of these changes are likely to stick due to the transactional convenience and ease. Digital payments serve exactly that consumers’ demand.
Retail businesses must be prepared to meet customers in the ways they want to be met and cashless convenience cannot be missed from the equation. Going cashless is not only the newest technology trend but a strategic goal – a new business model, when this comes as a complete cashless ecosystem and through a licensed, open, and interconnected mobile payment app.
In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of digitalisation in the gaming sector is clear. Players increasingly expect cashless, secure, fast, more streamlined and efficient transaction options. Gaming operators must keep up with the pace of change, adopting digital payment options to ensure they are positioned to support their clients’ digital journeys, while also they need to educate them and guide them in this transition in a smooth and efficient way.
- Digital payments enjoyed a huge boom from the early Covid lockdowns; why is the timing right for a cashless payment option like OKTO.WALLET for the land-based gaming sector? What are the benefits for the land-based gaming operators and their players to incorporate a digital strategy and add a digital cashless payment option?
The benefits of embracing an end-to-end cashless solution are the answers and solutions to the present and future shifts of customers’ behavior, and expectations, new economic, realities, societal shifts, and regulatory directives. So, due to these numerous trends converging, now is the right time for Spanish retail gaming operators to embrace cashless and follow the major gaming markets such as the USA and UK as cashless is becoming king. Cashless offers a multitude of advantages across all retail touchpoints whether that be over the counter, directly on Gaming Machines, or through Cash Redemption Terminals.
There is also a new law that came recently into effect and highlights why now is the time to switch to cashless. A limit on how much money Spanish citizens can pay in cash for services has been established. These new limits for transactions with cash could change how citizens conduct business in Spain. Now, a limit of 1,000 euros will apply for services all businesses and professionals provide. Gaming operates must take note of this source technology that can compliantly manage this law with the minimal operational impact that remains to satisfy the players’ needs such as the OKTO.Wallet.
Security is one of the core advantages. Let me elaborate further on this. As digital solutions improve, criminals are also leveraging technology to find more sophisticated methods of committing fraud. New technology allows fintech providers like OKTO to introduce cutting-edge capabilities in this respect. To prevent or minimize the impact of identity fraud, it is imperative to carry out effective verification. This is crucial specifically for retail to enhance the full and proper supervision of retail facilities. We designed the OKTO.WALLET solution to enable exactly that, a game-changer of retail revitalisation. Having all the tools that satisfy the important factor of full and proper supervision especially of self-service facilities in terms of safe gambling, age verification and money laundering.
Mobile-first is one more buzzword that is the talk of the town. There is a wide range of benefits that are not limited just to transaction safety and speed. Consumers’ behavior and expectations changed and the population despite the demographic range that they are belonged to are more tech-savvy than ever.
The imperative is to have a deep understanding of customers’ payment preferences and offer payment methods adjusted not only to each regions’ needs and demands but also, to different audiences within the same region. To effectively reach the audience, you need a local approach, that can offer customers next-gen mobile-first payment solutions to support all the ways consumers expect to pay.
And it’s not only due to the sustained need for public hygiene at checkout, that digital and mobile wallets are becoming commonplace, of this behavioral change. But also, the fact that players during the pandemic were educated to be online registered users. The spike can be attributed to changes in consumer behaviors, including even more online shopping, touch-free payments, curbside pickup, and no-contact deliveries.
What is also essential is to provide real-time payments, convenience and an omnichannel seamless experience to the user across all touchpoints with the player. OKTO.WALLET provides all those elements streamlining the user experience and enhancing the overall experience in a fast, easy, compliant and seamless way.
- With your recent homologation of the OKTO.WALLET payment solution from Spanish authorities seems that regulators follow innovation and trends. What have you seen from the early operator’s engagement with the product?
The regulatory landscape is always there, and the main goal is one – to protect the consumer, the player. And this goes together with cashless and identified gaming. Think about online gaming, from checks and balances to complete KYC and limits are all followed online. Shouldn’t this be the case also for retail?
Spain is one of the biggest regulated markets in Europe and we are extremely proud to be now ready to offer our powerful cashless solution on gaming machines in the region through our cooperation with Jackpot Systems with more partnerships to follow in this respect.
Working closely with the local authorities not only in Spain but across Europe, we reinforce our commitment to bring to market a secure, seamless, cashless payment solution fully aligned with the new norm and today’s operators’ and players’ demands for digital experiences across all physical touchpoints. We had seen the trend quite a long time ago. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was already some movement toward cashless gaming and we are glad that we developed a licensed, end-to-end cashless solution, giving a fast response to market needs. Of course, with the retail stores to reopen momentum picked up.
We have seen this in the US where the American Gaming Association has promoted cashless as a necessary step the industry needs to take. UKGC also points out that cashless technology comes with potential benefits to protect bettors.
The operators’ demand in the Spanish region is massive. The trend towards cashless is evolving quicker than expected and we are entirely aligned with both our operators’ partners quest for digitalization, helping them with the transition to cashless operations and with the regulators’ demand. The driver behind the scenes is always the same – the ability to provide safe, socially responsible, and fast transactions to their users, but also to attract younger demographics, reduce cost and risk of cash, and that is what we deliver through OKTO.WALLET.
- How is OKTO different from other payment providers? What challenges are you looking to solve?
There are numerous payment solutions available, and it can be confusing at times, what and why different digital solutions are better suited to certain sectors, and this is also the case in gaming.
Now with the industry facing more challenges than ever, gaming operators need a payment service to ease the burden rather than add to it. Industry-specific, mobile-first, omni-channel and open-loop are the keys here. Operators need a reliable and trusted partner that is focused on the nuanced needs of land-based gaming and this is our key differentiator.
It’s vital to choose the right partner; one that utilises field-proven technologies and has the extensive know-how of key integrations across all physical touchpoints of a gaming venue ranging from gaming machines to Self-Service Betting Terminals and Cash Redemption Terminals as well as a strong understanding and proven ability to integrate the wallet with digital touchpoints. We have exactly this approach through our OKTO.WALLET solution, that the operators need to get ahead of the pack. OKTO.WALLET is a licensed, open-loop, system agnostic solution with multiple fund options available for the users. Alongside, the OKTO app enables users to use their funds as they wish to the entire payment ecosystem through the OKTO Prepaid Mastercard® linked to the OKTO wallet account. Challenges? I would like to mention that education is the biggest challenge. While a big portion of consumers is digitally native, not every consumer prefers or understands the technology required to use digital payments.
For such consumers, this leaves cash as the first and often the only option. When businesses reject cash as a valid form of payment, their goods and services effectively become off-limits to anyone who cannot access cash alternatives, and this is the reality. Excluding cash speeds up transactions and makes them easier for companies to manage as well as safer and secure. Hence, education is always the key.