Bacta Vice President Greg Wood provides an update on the JV struck in the summer with payments specialists Polar Moment and provides a taster to what the industry can expect to see on the newly formed Game Payment Technology stand at ACOS.
It’s two months since you received the green light from National Council for the JV – can you update us on what you’ve been working on and what’s been achieved in the first 60 days?
We’ve been involved on a number of concurrent work streams. In terms of product development the guys at Polar Moment and Reflex have been working extremely hard and have achieved amazing things in what is a short time frame. The whole backend is now fully developed to production level in terms of being fully secure and scalable, with a fully operational digital wallet. The front end user app is in final testing stages and we will have completed all the finishing touches to the User Interface by the end of October. We will be using an additional piece of hardware to enable the machine which has been developed and designed for production. This is now complete and we will have the first version of the Solution in machines at Reflex and Polar Moment by the end of October to enable us to complete full end-toend testing of the whole system in a fully live environment. Banking and compliance is a big area. Not only have we taken into account the social responsibility requirements of the Gambling Commission but also the compliance requirements of the Financial Conduct Authority, payment processors and the banks all of whom require us to pass compliance testing and ensure that we have the correct processes in place. Polar Moment has been able to provide the insight to make this process seem effortless.
What’s the make-up of the board and what do the individuals bring to the table?
We have incorporated a new company – Game Payment Technology – which has a board comprising three people from each side of the JV. From Polar Moment, Paul Deedis is the technical lead, John Rozek brings all the knowledge and skills required for banking compliance and Tim Stratton, one of the founders of Polar Moment has over 30-years experience in the sector. From the bacta side Robert Gibb is heading up the finance in the JV and dealing with legals and Quentin Stott from Reflex brings a manufacturing perspective which has enabled us to move very quickly getting the product integrated. Having headed up the cashless committee within bacta for two years I was also asked to sit on the board. Being an operator I am able to bring this perspective to the development, combining technical knowledge with insight on the process for collections and accounting for cash. Overall I think we have a strong team which boasts detailed knowledge of each sector and I’m pleased to say it’s working extremely well.
How does the new company interface with bacta and can members feed into the JV with their own ideas, observations and experiences?
As all the bacta members on the board are also members of Mancom there is a high level of interface with the trade association and progress reports are issued every month. Updates are also made to each of the bacta Divisions and to National Council. Moving forward there will be opportunities for members to interact via these forums. As bacta members will be the main customers their feedback will be integral to the success of the venture.
What is the gestation period from where you are now to having a fully functioning app working throughout the various gaming verticals?
We hope to be fully operational on site with a shake down test by early November. This will be a four site test run conducted over an eight week period. From there we will move to a wider test with a number of different operators. In the first instance the solution will only be available to the pub market but given the design of the system it can be easily integrated into most machines with some changes to the machine operating system. We will soon be publishing the specification for this which will be circulated among all manufacturers.
How has the Gambling Commission responded to the initiative?
The Commission has been positive in its approach to app payment systems generally. Their published guidance on what is and what isn’t acceptable in their interpretation of the law means that we have defined and specific requirements to work with. To keep them fully informed we have invited representatives of the Gambling Commission to visit us at ACOS for a full demo of the system. From a social responsibility perspective the app will deliver much more control than cash and the team will be implementing a number of features. For example the app will have a default weekly deposit limit that will take 24 hours to change. We will also have a cooling off option that will allow the player to restrict their gaming access through the app. There are also a number of other initiatives that we will be incorporating into the system, but at this point we don’t want to publicise them.
What are the biggest hurdles and how do you plan to overcome them?
Given the way our project is structured most of the complex parts of the development, speaking both technically and operationally, have already been dealt with very effectively. That is not to say that everything has been easy, but the outcome has always been achievable. The area that we believe is going to represent the biggest challenge is educating the enduser and driving uptake. We do however have strategies under discussion to deal with this, so wait and see!
What presence will you have at ACOS and what’s your message to the industry ahead of the show?
Game Payment Technology will have a dedicated stand at ACOS and there will also be GPT enabled machines on the Reflex stand. We will be able to provide visitors with a full overview of the system and a live demonstration. Our message to the industry is that this solution is not designed to be a replacement for cash, but is to facilitate the consumers who would rather play by means other than cash. In our modelling we haven’t assumed any uplift will be driven by deploying the app, but instead we view it as a means of keeping the customers that we currently have. If we are able to pick up more players this will represent a significant added bonus.