Introducing a software-based solution carefully tailored to Britain’s retail gaming sector, Simon Dorsen, director of gaming at OKTO – joined by Gambling Business Group (GBG) CEO Peter Hannibal – explains how the financially licensed company has leveraged GBG’s new EFT protocol to provide operators with a cashless system that allows players to use, move and collect their funds instantly – whether it’s on a gaming machine, at the bar, or in their local high street shops.
International fintech provider OKTO is ready to give Britain’s retail gaming sectors a much needed post-lockdown boost by offering the definitive solution to the longstanding challenge of cashless payments.
While there remains competition to provide the sector-wide cashless solution the industry requires, OKTO’s director of gaming Simon Dorsen, an 18-year veteran of the gaming industry, believes the company’s strict financial licenses, vast technological expertise, and unrivalled wallet universality all put OKTO’s secure and complete cashless solution ahead of the pack.
“Cashless and digital payments in the UK is the norm now and today’s consumers demand the digitisation of payments across the economy, and in gaming as well. We have tailored our wallet towards the unique requirements of gaming, but we’re not just a gaming wallet,” explained Dorsen. “Money in the OKTO ecosystem can be moved or spent anywhere that accepts digital payments, whether it’s pubs, bingo clubs or high street shops – and our licenses, upholding the strictest of security standards, mean that any funds with us are always fully protected. The fact that we are financially licensed is very important, as it means both merchants and users can be confident that OKTO is backed by central banks across Europe.”
In addition to its licenses and software-based solution, a recently developed Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) protocol, made publicly available by Gambling Business Group (GBG), has given OKTO an advantage over the industry’s false-starts at a cashless solution. Without the need for any additional hardware or upfront costs, the protocol makes it possible for OKTO to bring any digital gaming machine into its payments ecosystem – finally putting the retail gaming sector on a level playing field with the rest of Britain’s high street economy.
“We are thrilled to be working on established industry protocol which is fully supported by the principle manufacturers of digital machines in pubs and AGC’s. It enables our truly cashless solution to allow users to go up to a gaming machine in the pub, press a button to use OKTO, and deposit funds to start playing. When they cashout, they get the money back in their cashless wallet instantly. Additionally, we are able to onboard pubs as merchants, so if the users want to immediately spend on food and drink in the pub, they can; either through their OKTO.WALLET app or, in the near future, from their OKTO debit card that is linked to the wallet.”
Indeed, much like increasingly popular neo-banks such as Monzo and Revolut, OKTO allows users to move and use their funds instantly, as they wish, putting the power directly in the user’s hands. It’s not just a “one-use” wallet, as users can extend the wallet usage beyond gaming machines and into the wider economy. This is not only ideal for giving players the most frictionless experience possible, but also for allowing operators to easily move, manage and count their digital cashboxes, detailed Dorsen.
“Because the transactions are instant within our ecosystem, you can dramatically move to a settlement time that is instant,” he continued. “We can automate and move towards an instant settlement process. Compared to the traditional cash dependent system, this will allow operators to reimagine the way they operate.”
GBG CEO Peter Hannibal, whose open EFT protocol allows payment providers to ‘talk’ to any connected digital gaming machines, believes that OKTO’s entry into the retail gaming sectors has come at the perfect time. Not only has the protocol made it so much easier from a technical perspective, but with Covid-19 creating a sentiment of fear around the use of cash, the increasing trend of cashless payments is affecting all sectors of the industry more than ever.
“During lockdown we learned that bingo customers were concerned about using cash after the clubs reopened,” Hannibal explained. “The operation of traditional bingo has always been dependent upon coins and cash, but that clearly needs to change, and companies like OKTO will enable them to do that. Products like OKTO’s cashless solution have the potential to transform many gambling activities including bingo – and there’s an existential need for it now, even if there wasn’t before.”
Importantly, OKTO also provides a range of social responsibility tools to players through the fintech provider’s app, incorporating a strict age verification process, self-exclusion, betting limits, and profit and loss calculator tools that further enhance consumers’ protection. In addition, there is a section embedded in the app with national problem gambling helplines.
Hannibal summarised that OKTO’s solution presents a rare opportunity for the industry; a situation in which everyone’s a winner. The player gets more choice, the regulator gets responsible gaming tools in the players’ hands, and the operator gets a boost to business efficiency when it’s most needed. And with no upfront costs, it’s a boost that Dorsen believes operators will welcome.
“I have noticed a real change in operator’s mindsets over the past 18 months. There was a tipping point last year, even before COVID-19 came along, where operators realised that they need to learn about and adopt new cashless solutions. Now, naturally, we are seeing the consumer shift, and because of COVID-19 all demographics are becoming more comfortable using cashless payments,” said Dorsen. “The current economic circumstances are requiring operators to focus on efficiencies more than ever, and because our software based solution connects directly to the GBG/EFT protocol, we can provide fast deployment without any upfront capital expenditure. There’s not a big financial hurdle to implementing our cashless solution, so we think that operators will be eager to finally unlock the benefits they’ve been hearing about for so long, and we’re ready to show them exactly how our end-to-end cashless solution can help their business.”