Ahead of next week’s ACOS in London ??, Dean Gourlay, who recently joined our expanded UK management team explains in Coinslot how the platform and payment solutions of OKTO are ticking all of the boxes for domestic operators.
CS: You have enjoyed a long career in the industry what is it about the business that you most enjoy and what attracted you to become part of the OKTO UK team?
DG: Everyone who has spent any time in this industry always references the ‘people’ side of the business as being a real stand-out feature and there’s a great buzz between the manufacturers, distributors, and operators. We are a very close-knit family working in an environment which at times has been challenging, but we always seem to come up with solutions to keep moving forward. It’s a very resilient industry that’s packed with big personalities which creates a really positive environment.
What first attracted me to OKTO was the fact they have an outstanding payment platform built in-house with solutions that responds to different operator and player demands. Part of the platform that also attracted me was the powerful app which allows the operator to offer an omnichannel contactless payments solution to their customers. Secondly, I was hugely impressed by Filippos the OKTO founder and CEO and CCO, Simon Dorsen. Both are very customer focussed and driven individuals. They share a strong belief in Safer Payments within the gaming environment, at the same time as being determined to provide the best possible customer journey for both B2B and B2C. I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the head office over in Athens and I’ve been totally blown away by the team and how they keep coming up with new and innovative ideas to improve what is already a great product for the UK market. I would just encourage Coinslot readers to ‘Watch This Space!!
CS: How would you describe OKTO’s reputation in the UK market – is it important that it’s proved successful in international markets?
DG: From all of my conversations with both partners and prospects, OKTO is rightly perceived as being both credible and trustworthy with a payment platform that’s reliable, responsible and flexible. The fact that OKTO is successful in numerous markets, provides several advantages not least the ability to introduce unique products and new technologies successfully trialled in one jurisdiction to other markets.
CS: How important is localisation?
DG: The ability to adapt the solution to meet the specific needs of each jurisdiction is vital. I should add that localisation goes way beyond simply changing the language or the currency – it means adapting all of the elements of the solution to ensure a better and more natural cultural fit. It may even be necessary to create several versions of the product so that it suits specific market needs within the same country.
Whether it’s mobile retail payment or e-commerce payment solutions, the OKTO commitment is to make payments for merchants and consumers, effortless, faster, easier and responsible – wherever they do business. It’s also very important that we have a strong UK-based presence that knows the domestic industry. Growing the UK team with the additions of myself and Rocky Toor as Key Account Manager means that we are able to visit our customer base and be right up to speed with what’s happening in the UK market. The fact that we are a UK ltd business and that we are expanding both our UK team and the number of partnerships we have here is further confirmation that OKTO is 100 percent focused on the UK market.
CS: How is the UK player base growing?
DG: Dealing with the B2C side, you cannot ignore the fact that, the wallet solution is a real hit with machine players in Pubs and AGCs, evidenced by a 60 percent monthly growth rate in active users and a 25 percent monthly growth rate in new registrations. Another key metric for us is the stickiness of users that selected OKTO as their preferred payment method to perform real-time transactions on a regular basis. In the last year, we have seen a 52 percent monthly growth rate of repeat users. Everything is moving in the right direction with machine players showing a high level of acceptance of digital payments.
CS: Safer Gambling week runs between the 17th to 23rd of October – how important are OKTO’s safer gambling features to your customers?
DG: They are extremely important. Every conversation the industry has with its regulators begins and ends with references to safer gambling. The figures for the percentage of UK adults who experience problem gambling are at a historical low but no one can ever become complacent. Safer gambling tools are built into the platform and enable a wide range of practical benefits such as personal limit setting and transaction monitoring which enables players to see their profit and loss position in real-time. The toolkit means that players can make informed decisions, that red flags can be set, and they can access information and help with problem gambling if they feel it’s needed. The app also automates age verification preventing underage gambling. Taking a broader approach to social responsibility the delivery of comprehensive ‘know your customer’ capabilities address issues such as anti-money laundering and its links to funding organised crime. The OKTO system meets the requirements set out by UK Gaming Regulators and is also fully aligned with the payments rulebook.
CS: What other features and services of OKTO’s payment platform appeal most to the UK market?
DG: The cashless wallet is a hit with UK consumers and operators not only because it unlocks cashless payments directly onto gaming machines, but because it also represents a true omnichannel solution that links retail and online. Further to OKTO’s recent collaboration with the Hippodrome Casino, there was huge interest in our embedded payment services. The versatility and the unlimited capabilities of the OKTO platform are big benefits which really appeal. OKTO offers KYC and Anti Money Laundering as a Service, Banking as a Service, Payments as a Service and a Wallet as a Service, meaning that the OKTO platform can be offered as a fully embedded solution within the operator app or site without the need to rebuild the current app. Whether that be a retail casino app, sports betting app, or any igaming app or site, OKTO embeds full payment functionalities inside the existing mobile betting applications with the minimum effort required from the operator. As a modern payment platform, OKTO strives to simplify all aspects of the payments, including merchant onboarding and gaming system integration to enable digital payments into legacy systems, through to payments and banking services, enabling card acquiring, issuing and settlements as well as end-user onboarding within a safe KYC environment, following the AML rules and preventing fraud in a fast, easy and secure way.
CS: How simple is it for operators to get up and running with the OKTO system and offering their players a digital payment experience?
DG: As an entirely software-driven solution with no hardware integrations and components, OKTO provides direct and swift time to market at the same time as significantly reducing costs thanks to an entirely digital, cashless, cardless and paperless experience. APIs play a key role: through the integration of APIs, technology platforms can embed payments seamlessly into the customer experience at the point of interaction and tailored to the needs of the user. OKTO’s platform integration onto our customers’ platform is a really smooth and quick process. From my experience, the ease of integration and speed to market are hugely important to every operator.