News
Rising to the challenge
April 06, 2021

In a special feature, iNTERGAMINGi examines the rapidly expanding world of online
payments and speaks to several industry leaders who are pushing the boundaries. Our OKTO.WALLET Commercial Owner, Dimitar Shopov participated in the roundtable, sharing his insights on the rise of online payments.

Customers want instant global accessibility via any device, as do merchants. The gaming world expects payouts to work as smoothly as pay-ins. The ability to provide a multitude of options is the best way to gain the trust and loyalty of players, and the sector has risen above and beyond the challenge.

  • What is new in the world of online payments?

As consumers increasingly embrace omni-channel, their expectation for fast, frictionless and convenient transactions will continue to grow. To keep up with these ever-growing expectactions, while in parallel with data security and privacy regulations, businesses will need to adopt more secure, omni-channel payments technologies and create a unified frictionless experience across all channels and touchpoints
with the user.

Mobile payments will also continue to play a vital role as app-based commerce sees a significant rise. The recent roll-out of 5G triggers one more step-change in this respect. This latest development will secure better mobile reliability and ultra-low latency in transactions, promoting further real-time transactions. Instant mobile payments are and will continue to be a major trend in the payment industry, simply since instant payment takes on the characteristic of cash like the immediate settlement but what is more exciting is the scope for innovation in fraud prevention and security.

Automation and AI also plays a key role, especially in the cybersecurity space, and we will see growing use very soon.

Of course, we cannot miss the always growing shift to cashless. We will definitely see an even greater shift towards cashless across key sectors, including gaming and betting, that will make the overall experience quicker and more convenient overall. Merchants and operators must make the consumer experience their top priority as trends shift towards simplicity, convenience and security.

  • How do you balance a smooth customer experience with the need to adhere to regulations and security?

Users are demanding greater speed, choice and convenience, and it’s the industry’s job to deliver. Alongside, they expect omni-channel functionality and full control of their financial information. PSD2 framework helps a lot to harmonise regulation across Europe and tackles the users’ demands head-on.

Education is the key here to future-proof ourselves in an age of rapid technological change. It’s clear that the industry must go further to increase the levels of awareness of the new regulations and ensure consumers and merchants understand PSD2 and how beneficial it is for them. After all, it’s important to understand that this offers a better customer experience, and therefore increases customer loyalty. There’s no better way to get the customers than by enhancing the quality of services, making payment transactions faster, more secure, and transparent, providing seamless digital payments, eliminating fraud, and reducing chargeback rates.

Forward-thinking businesses already see PSD2’s security requirements as an opportunity to seize a competitive edge by providing a smooth and secure payment experience for customers. The extend of the pandemic pushed businesses to reinvent their activities and adapt to the disruption, shifting their operations to online or establishing a digital strategy in retail, through a new line of service to capture new marketplace opportunities and digital customer segments. As digital keeps thriving, and payments are an integral part of that shift, we had a sole purpose; to help operations grow efficiently in a dynamic environment through secure, safe and seamless payment solutions and our OKTO.WALLET omni-channel solution can bridge the transition effortlessly.

We are living in times of change, and this is the perfect time to reconsider not only how to meet the change at hand, but how to think differently — and how to set the business up for the next, inevitable or pleasant change.

  • How is the sector combating ID fraud?

 

PSD2 regulation and 3DS are forcing fraudsters to change tactics. The ability to dig deep into the data trails can help detect whether there is a real customer or not and stem losses from this fast-growing financial crime.

It’s a primary goal to provide high protection against fraud and enhanced security through Strong Customer Authentication.

We at OKTO and specifically for the gaming and betting industry secure that all fund transfers are audited using market-proven algorithms to detect fraudulent activity, including money laundering, game manipulation and cash-peripheral attacks. Suspicious transfers are held in suspense by OKTO.WALLET requiring manual intervention by an authorised person before they are either released to the user or voided.

Technology again is our best friend. Technology such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are emerging as important tools to combat ID fraud. Here comes also the role of KYC. To prevent or minimize the impact of identity fraud, it’s imperative to carry-out effective verification. This is crucial specifically for retail to enhance a full and proper supervision of retail facilities. We designed the OKTO.WALLET with this in mind as well. Having all the tools that are in line with responsible gaming, money laundering and age verification.

As with any aspect of modern financial crime, the criminals perpetrating it are agile and sophisticated, constantly evolving and refining their techniques. However, they can flourish because they can exploit weaknesses in existing processes. We must understand what is driving this form of financial crime and deploy strong defences to protect both our customers and us and this is exactly what we do at OKTO.

 

  • With so many players worldwide now gambling on mobile – what are the particular opportunities that offers and how are you catering for users on desktop?

 

Mobile gaming and betting has a remarkable growth. Between 2018 and 2020 there was a 500% increase in the number of players that have been using a mobile device to visit a website for betting purposes. But what we can see also is the growth of mobile use in general. Since 2016, smartphones have overtaken computers as the most popular method for going online, and mobile phones are the device that consumers say they would miss the most.  These growing numbers have come to terms with the importance of mobile payment apps and other mobile-first payments solutions to the gaming ever-growing mobile community.

There are a wide range of benefits that are not limited just to transaction safety and speed. The imperative is to have a deep understanding of customers’ payment preferences and offer payment methods adjusted not only to each regions’ needs and demands but also, to different audiences within the same region. To effectively reach the audience, you need a local approach, that can offer customers next-gen mobile-first payment solutions to support all the ways consumers expect to pay through their smartphone, whether that be through mobile wallet or via a voucher-based payment method.

 

What is also essential is to provide real-time payments, convenience and an omnichannel seamless experience to the user, whether that be for cashless retail solutions, mobile payments for desktop, mobile or cash-based online gaming. Our payment solutions, OKTO.WALLET and OKTO.CASH, are uniquely designed to cover all the demands for all the different audiences, fully aligned with the mobile-first trend.

  • How important is it to localise the payment experiences in different geographies? Could you provide any examples?

 

Undoubtedly, it’s crucial to adapt to different geographies to be successful. I will come to double down what I previously said about the local approach. Payment experiences similar to betting needs should be omni-channel and tailored to suit each environment.

For us it’s pretty clear that understanding the local market including regulations, economics, and cultural differences, it’s essential not only to drive local success but bring to users the experience that they crave for. We take local habits into account as customer payment preference may differ quite drastically from one country or region to another.

What excites a customer in Brazil may not be what thrills another in the UK in terms of payment preferences. Think about Brazil, not supporting cash-based payment methods in this market will be a major challenge for any business. On the contrary, users in the UK are quick adopters and are ready for the transition to a cashless society and definitely will be the cashless leaders adopting mobile wallets. For other markets in Europe like in Greece and Cyprus cashless and cash will co-exist in operations for some time, a merchant is unlikely to change from cash to full cashless operation one day to the next in many cases.

We simply have to remember that localization needs flexibility, and that being said the only way to achieve this is to always keep your fingers to the pulse and to what each market and each customer is expecting.

  • What are your company’s plans for innovation in the coming months and what products should customers be looking forward to?

 

We always foster innovation by combining the latest technology with multi-layer security as all our solutions designed to protect both the user and the operator. Digital, mobile-first, automated, bespoke, fully-cashless, fast, real-time are just some of the unique selling points of our product offering, and all of them accelerated by the pandemic.

Think that real-time payments and mobile-first solutions have taken the stage this year. OKTO.WALLET lies in this respect. Our omni-channel solution covers the entire gaming ecosystem, all touchpoints in the betting operator’s or casinos gaming venue, or online. Utilising field-proven technologies and through extensive know-how of key integrations across all physical touchpoint ranging from self-service betting terminal to cash redemption terminals and gaming machines, as well as a strong understanding and proven ability to integrate the wallet with digital touchpoints, we are fully equipped to provide a 360° approach through OKTO.WALLET that the operators need, to get ahead.

Aligning with different societies’ preferences, we understood that there are many regions where we are likely to see a transition to less-cash societies rather than a complete cashless switch in the near term. Our OKTO.CASH is a new, in-app payment method that streamlines users’ digital journey. The new payment method is fully aligned with online merchants’ vision to deliver an exceptional customer experience in every touchpoint with the user through an entirely seamless and frictionless topping up process.  We offer a fully immersed mobile on-premise experience, allowing users to top up their online account directly from any physical point-of-sale in real-time, while never leaving the merchant’s mobile app or site.

To keep pace with the industry movers and shakers, you need to modernise the payment experience in a faster, easier, safer and more compliant way responding to customer demands, and this is what we do with our payment solutions.

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