Coinslot: How did the show go for you – was there much business done during the three days?
Rob Peché: “Marking our debut appearance at EAG, we were excited to be showcasing the unrivalled capabilities of our OKTO mobile-first, cashless solution; all proven to enhance the player experience and security, and from our perspective, it represented a significant success. Despite the tube strike, we lost count of the number of AGC, Bingo and Pub companies visiting us, comprising both existing customers and prospects. The industry has read a lot about OKTO, and EAG was an opportunity to build on that profile and for me in my role as UK Country Manager to meet up with a large number of old colleagues and friends from the UK industry many of whom are already OKTO customers. My role is to be the face of OKTO in the UK and the point of contact for any industry enquiries or discussions with regards to digital, cashless, secure payments. Our team at EAG, included OKTO CEO Filippos Antonopoulos, CCO Simon Dorsen, Gaming Solutions Director George Plakas, and Marketing Director, Diana Theodoridi, all of whom were involved in explaining our plans and our vision to partners across the AGC, Bingo, Holiday Parks and Pub sectors – both gaming and non-gaming. The seniority of the team sent out a very clear message of intent about the importance that OKTO attributes to the UK market. At show, we signed a number of new contracts and completed NDAs with a host of other businesses and organisations.
Coinslot: What were the stand highlights – which products caught the attention and what was reaction to the portfolio of products?
Rob Peché: From the feedback we received, it’s clear that operators are taking a progressive and integrated approach to how they retail entertainment, and that digitalisation and digital payments are helping to drive this. A stand-out benefit for operators is that OKTO is a wallet and not simply a payments facilitator. It has a multitude of features including its omni-channel status which means it works across the entire gaming ecosystem including online and in every touchpoint with the user. Significantly, OKTO is fully aligned with the requirements of regulators in terms of providing responsible gaming undertakings including age verification, KYC capabilities, the ability to set gaming limits and time-out periods in addition to providing access to safer gambling helplines. Beyond gaming, it has the ability to be integrated into ordering apps which represents an integrated and holistic solution while the OKTO Mastercard® linked with the OKTO wallet enables users to use it in retail and online commerce. The open-loop functionality really struck a chord with the many operators that we met with.
Coinslot: Are there any key news stories from the three days – new agreements, new appointments, installations etc?
Rob Peché: EAG wasn’t simply a meet and greet or a flag waving opportunity. We entered into agreements and cemented deals with operators across all sectors, offering them exactly what their audience is asking for – a responsible, cashless, digital payments experience. Significantly, the OKTO vision and approach resonates equally with the larger more corporate businesses as it does with the UK industry’s very important independent sector. This is down to the power of the OKTO technology, our vision and our status as the architects of digitalisation as well as our ability to deliver the localisation that the UK market seeks. My role as UK Country Manager is indicative of that commitment to localisation which applies to every country in which OKTO operates. The localisation strategy has proved essential as well as extremely successful with OKTO concluding three partnership agreements in February including one with the Spanish giant Codere. Acting local and understanding the needs of individual markets is key.
Coinslot: It was the industry’s first EAG for over 26 months – how did you gauge the general mood and what were the main talking points?
Rob Peché: I know this is a view shared by many in the industry, but it was really positive to be able to meet people face-to-face, shake hands, have a coffee and talk about the industry. From my experience in the sector which stretches back nearly two decades, this has always been a people business and I think we’ve lost a little bit of that human touch over the last two years – it was good to experience that again. Live events allow you to gauge the mood of a conversation in a way that Zoom or Teams simply doesn’t allow, and give you the ability to develop relationships, explore opportunities, listen and learn about the needs and the demands. Everyone was extremely happy to be back after such a challenging two years and in terms of concerns regarding Covid it didn’t even feature in the conversations I had.
Coinslot: Clearly happy to be back at live events, what’s on your agenda going into spring in terms of new products and new projects?
Rob Peché: The next stop for OKTO is when we return to the ExCeL Centre in April for ICE London. ICE delivers a totally different audience to EAG in so far as it’s more international and encompasses more gaming verticals, including sports betting and the casino sector, both land-based and igaming. It provides an opportunity for us to demonstrate OKTO’s true omni-channel status, enabling more operators to step into the wave of OKTO’s mobile-first, responsible payments.