There’s no surprise that OKTO has been making its mark in the UK sector – its digital payment innovations have been transforming gaming, entertainment and leisure sectors around the world. With South America and Europe all bearing significant gains for OKTO recently, there’s a twinkle in the eye of Dean Gourlay, Country Manager UK, who sees a huge opportunity for the company in his home territory. The recently published White Paper has thrown a game-changing payments prospect into the arena, and it’s one the Scot is looking to capitalise on. Opening the door to “further innovation and development of our digital payment solutions”, there’s an air of confidence at OKTO. Having built a strong network of strategic partnerships in the UK, and with its cashless payment innovations – OKTO.WALLET and OKTO.DIRECT – raising the bar, Gourlay talks to Coinslot about those “exciting opportunities” that lie ahead.
Coinslot: It’s been a busy start to the year for OKTO with a number of shows and partnerships on the schedule. How is 2023 shaping up for the company?
Dean Gourlay: Indeed, 2023 has been a dynamic and promising year for OKTO so far. We have seen tremendous growth through our participation in various shows and the establishment of strategic partnerships. These activities have not only expanded our network but also allowed us to showcase the innovative digital payment services of OKTO to a wider audience. With the momentum we have built, we are confident that the rest of the year will continue to be fruitful for OKTO, with further growth and exciting opportunities on the horizon.
Speaking about the UK, this will be for sure with the recent announcement of the White Paper and more specifically with the attention paid to cashless payments, a market where OKTO was and remains at the forefront.
Coinslot: You have made significant strides in the global market with the OKTO payments technology and solutions, where are you finding the strongest drive towards digital payments around the world?
Dean Gourlay: The global market has shown a strong drive towards digital payments, and we have witnessed particular enthusiasm in several regions. We have recently seen a surge in demand for digital payments in emerging markets such as South America. Additionally, more established markets like Europe, the UK and North America have also embraced the convenience and security of digital payments.
These regions have demonstrated a high adoption rate for mobile payments, each one with its own nuances, while in several regions there is a growing preference for cashless transactions as part of retail digitalisation strategy. Overall, the strongest drive towards digital payments is seen in markets where consumers are seeking faster, more convenient, and more secure payment options.
Coinslot: Here in the UK, it’s fair to say that regulation has been slow to respond to the digital development in payments. Despite that, OKTO has made a strong base in the marketplace. Talk us through some of the key developments for OKTO in the UK.
Dean Gourlay: Regulation always presents unique challenges, but for us here at OKTO it’s the catalyst for innovation. OKTO has been proactive in adapting to these conditions and has made significant progress in the market when it comes to cashless solutions, most notably with the launch of our true omnichannel wallet solution – OKTO.WALLET. We’re always considering the local nuances and making solutions tailored to serve the UK market.
We have focused on building strong partnerships with key stakeholders and operators, establishing ourselves as a trusted and reliable payment solution provider. At the same time, we have also invested in technology that meets the regulatory requirements and addresses the specific needs of the UK market. These efforts have enabled us to provide tailored digital payment solutions to various sectors, including gaming, leisure, entertainment, and hospitality.
We recently also developed OKTO.DIRECT, the first and only retail payments gateway that unlocks with one integration multiple digital payment methods for users to deposit and withdraw in real-time. The solution can be integrated into any touchpoint and across all verticals in retail.
For us it is a game changer for the UK market – with no app download and no cash – transactions are turned into connected experiences directly in the retail gaming touchpoint that streamlines the payment journey and unlocks for users payment methods such as instant bank transfer, card, Apple Pay and OKTO.WALLET via our powerful payment gateway.
Our OKTO.DIRECT solution, similar to our wallet, supports seamless and responsible payments with a seamless registration process and respective tools meeting the regulatory requirements for responsible gaming.
Coinslot: The UK has new regulation in the consultation process which will open up payment options for players. You have unrivalled experience globally, how do you think the changes in UK regulation will impact on operators and indeed your own development and innovation opportunities?
Dean Gourlay: The upcoming changes in UK regulation are certainly a positive development for us here at OKTO, but also for the operators that now can enable multiple payment options in retail for their players. The opening up of payment options for players will enhance the overall gaming and entertainment experience while promoting a more inclusive and convenient environment.
It will also provide an opportunity for operators to explore new revenue streams and attract a broader customer base. From our perspective, these changes present exciting opportunities for further innovation and development of our digital payment solutions. We are well-positioned to support operators in complying with the new regulations and leveraging our expertise to drive further advancements in the field.
Coinslot: Now, technology. What is it that has enabled OKTO to drive its portfolio into so many territories with such success?
Dean Gourlay: Our success in concurrent expansion into multiple territories can be attributed to several key factors. Firstly, our technology is designed to be highly scalable and adaptable, allowing us to tailor our solutions to the specific needs of different markets.
Secondly, we have a dedicated and experienced team in each region that understands the complexities and nuances of operating in diverse regions. This enables us to navigate regulatory requirements, cultural differences, and local preferences effectively.
Finally, our focus on building strong partnerships and providing exceptional customer experience has been influential in establishing our presence in various territories.
Coinslot: What response are you getting from the multi-varied operations in the UK?
Dean Gourlay: I would say that there is a positive node from the multi-varied operations in the UK. Our digital payment solutions have been well-received by operators. The convenience, security and efficiency that our payment technology and our cashless solutions bring to their businesses and their customers are definitely appreciated. We have seen operators embracing digital payments as another way to enhance the overall customer experience and streamline their operations.
Also, another point is the fact that cash in the UK is gradually declining, and operators should be able to cater to today’s payment demands, approaching also the digitally savvy consumers. The feedback we have received has been encouraging, and it motivates us to continue providing innovative solutions that cater to the specific needs of the sector.
Coinslot: Returning to the UK, what should we expect from OKTO in the coming months? Are there new launches, new payment options, and more SR functions ready to roll-out?
Dean Gourlay: In the coming months, we have several exciting plans for the UK market. We are continuously enhancing our payment offering to cater to the diverse needs of operators and their customers. We have new launches, partnerships and enhancements in the pipeline, including the introduction of innovative features that will further streamline transactions and improve the user experience.
These go hand in hand with the recent launch of our retail payment gateway OKTO.DIRECT. Our customers’ requirement for low-friction digital payment solutions is always on the top of our list and OKTO.DIRECT is the answer to this demand, with no need to download an app.
Using our well-established OKTO Unified Payment Platform and CMS integrations network, end-users are now able to use OKTO.DIRECT to top-up and withdraw directly at gaming machines via Apple Pay, Debit Card, Instant Bank Transfer or their OKTO wallet, just using their mobile to scan a QR code. This is all about delivering an unprecedented breadth of choice, enabling consumers to pay and play using a range of digital payment options that are available with a single integration.
Our focus always remains on driving innovation, delivering value to our customers, and staying ahead of market trends.
Coinslot: The UK is a very established and specialised market with amusements, gaming, gambling, leisure, hospitality all engaged in operations. How has OKTO managed to adapt its offering to these very unique nuances and can the technology make its mark in operations from theme parks to Working Men’s Clubs; family entertainment centres to pubs; snooker halls to casinos; barcades to piers?
Dean Gourlay: We recognise the unique nuances of the UK market and we have successfully adapted our offering to cater to diverse sectors and businesses. Our technology is designed to be highly flexible and customisable, allowing us to meet the specific requirements of different operations. Whether it’s a theme park, a Working Men’s Club, a family entertainment centre, a pub, a casino, or a betting shop our solutions can be tailored to suit their individual needs.
We understand that each sector has its own set of challenges and requirements, and we work closely with operators to provide them with bespoke solutions. Our technology has already made its mark in various sectors within the UK, and we are committed to continuing this success by addressing the unique demands of each specialised market segment. Especially now following the white paper publication.