With a pipeline of 250,000 contractually integrated gaming machines across the entire gaming ecosystem – from the casino, sports betting shops, and bingo halls to pubs & bars, as well as online in the UK and EU, OKTO means business. Our CCO, Simon Dorsen talks with Coinslot and outlines OKTO’s next steps, presence at EAG, active presence in the UK and EU as well as the recently announced big partnership with Codere.
OKTO has been in the UK for the best part of a year – what’s next for the brand and what does success look like?
The UK is a hugely important market with sectors that are among the largest and strongest in Europe. Our ambition is to further extend our partnerships and integrate with major players in the UK AGC, bingo, pub, casino, and sports betting sectors. The agreements which we already have with respected organisations such as Regal Gaming Technologies, Inspired Entertainment, Bob Rudd, as well as Merkur Slots and Merkur Bingo is a clear sign of the seriousness with which we are addressing the UK gaming market. Further announcements are imminent which will reinforce and reflect OKTO’s position as the preferred cashless app across the entirety of UK gaming. The appointment of Rob Peche, who has 18-years-experience in the industry, as UK Country Manager is also part of our strategy to build on what was a hugely positive and encouraging first year in the UK.
In terms of performance, the facts speak for themselves: OKTO has a pipeline of 250,000 contractually integrated gaming machines across Europe, and a market-leading access to 65 per cent share of machines in UK pubs. As a technology driven and powered brand, OKTO continues to lead the market by relentlessly enhancing, expanding, and improving the payment experience, making transactions faster, smoother, and more frictionless for OKTO users. In terms of specifics, there are a number of game-changing partnerships and product developments that OKTO will announce shortly: So, watch this space!
What do you want to achieve from your presence at EAG?
Following the relaxation of Covid regulations OKTO has been one of the first commercial organisations to participate in the key gaming shows that have taken place in Europe. EAG is part of that strategy, and I am glad that we will be making our debut at the show and in our capacity as bacta members.
Our team of payment and gaming experts will be present at our stand 295 to provide visitors with a full picture of how we can help operators to step into true omni-channel cashless payments and digitalise their users’ experience. The key step for operators is to find the cashless system that suits the specific needs of their business, and this is particularly true for more complex retail environments such as pubs, adult gaming centres and casinos. The selection of a reliable payment partner to help activate this digital payment strategy is critical.
Few providers are focusing on the nuanced needs of gaming operators, especially for land-based, having at the same time the deep payments knowledge that is required to support and offer an omni-channel, open-loop, cashless solution that consumers are looking for. The fact is that digital consumers simply want to use, move, and collect their money anywhere – not just for gaming – and this to be completed in a simple, fast, compliant, and secure way. This is exactly what we will be showcasing at EAG. Our gaming division has built a tailored solution to meet the exact specifications of the UK’s pub, gaming, leisure, and entertainment sectors. The secure seamless cashless payment solution delivered through the OKTO payment app and its proprietary platform is designed to meet all the niche demands of retail gaming customers, allowing players to move funds instantly across the entire payment ecosystem via OKTO; from the gaming machine, ordering app or at the bar/restaurant, and even to any retail or online commerce via the OKTO Mastercard® linked to the OKTO app.
An industry insider remarked that the OKTO wallet should be viewed as a currency rather than simply a payments method – is that an accurate reflection?
It’s a very pleasing statement in so far as it recognises that the wallet is backed by partnerships with leading banks, card acquiring and financial service providers, is certified for compliance with the payment card industry data security standard as well as being approved by Mastercard. Of all the trends in the payments sector digital currency is one of the latest and most significant. According to the European Central Bank, Europeans are relying more and more on digital payment
methods and is the reason why the EU is taking action to make sure people’s transition into cashless payments is as safe, smooth, and effective as possible: the adoption of digital currency is the next step.
To be a true currency you need to be trusted by users and merchants alike and follow the compliance and regulatory rulebook from the payments side. OKTO has this fully covered, as both users and merchants can be confident that OKTO is backed up by central banks across Europe. Hence, what’s built into our wallet includes all strict financial directives for KYC, AML, and fraud, while users’ and merchants’ funds are held in segregated accounts and audited and monitored by the Central Banks. OKTO is entirely transparent regarding its compliance, and this is an absolute requirement for all payment methods. We need to be serious and transparent about what is one of the most sensitive and important topics – consumers’ money.
The brand is active throughout Europe – in the space of a week you announced deals with REAC in Holland and Codere in Spain – which jurisdictions would you say are most advanced in terms of adopting fully cashless mobile-first payments?
The UK ranks higher than all other countries when it comes to cashless payments and has done so, for a number of years. Naturally, not everybody is ready for a digital switchover, but it’s apparent that more and more consumers are turning to digital payment options. According to a report by Square that analyzed data from small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across
the UK, cash’s share of in-store transactions plummeted from 45 percent to 23 percent in the space of a year. As an early adopter the UK was a natural choice for us to invest in and create a solution that’s designed to address the needs of each gaming sector and with a mission to enhance the user experience.
The use of cash has been declining throughout the world and the pandemic is accelerating the trend towards digital payments. Cashless forms of payment have created a new level of convenience for consumers and have provided a real boost for sectors including gaming, betting and hospitality. This is evident in all key markets that we are active comprising the UK, Spain, Romania, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus.
The Codere deal sends out a massive sign of confidence in OKTO – how important is this deal and what does it say to the rest of the international market?
It’s a fantastic sign of confidence from a brand that’s not only an established leading operator across Europe and Latin America but is also widely recognised as an industry ‘trendsetter’. Codere undertook an extensive due diligence process when choosing OKTO and our omni-channel partnership is a testament to the effectiveness of the award-winning technology and compliance that lies behind the OKTO solution and which is enabling Codere to step into the cashless era with a true omni-channel payment method which incorporates social responsibility features, reduces operational overheads, and also mitigates against the threat posed by fraud and theft.