Representatives from Everi Holdings, Trustly and Global Payments Inc, who all specialise in providing payment solutions to the gambling industry, spoke with Owain Flanders about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the progression of cashless gaming. This article originally appeared in the July/August edition of Gambling Insider magazine.
Michael Rumbolz President and CEO, Everi Holdings
Sam Barrett Director of gaming, Trustly
Chris Justice President, Global Payments Inc
Have you noticed an increased interest in your cashless systems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Michael Rumbolz: With the pandemic, our customers have been focused on their reopening strategies which focus on the health and safety of their guests and employees. This has driven demand for the deployment of cashless solutions. We have been working with many customers to deploy our solutions for reopenings.
Chris Justice: A March 2020 survey by RTi Research indicated 29% of consumers are worried about catching the virus from cash, while 30% have converted to contactless forms of payment. Consumers feel increasingly uncomfortable exchanging cash which will impact when, where and how often they play casino games. Our solutions promote a socially distance and contactless gaming environment that brings peace of mind to customers and operators.
Sam Barrett: Before the pandemic, cashless was on the radar of most land-based gaming businesses, mainly for the simple reason that going cashless or contactless was an organic way forward to improve payments within the land-based gaming environment. I wouldn’t say COVID-19 has been the catalyst towards going cashless but it has accelerated because businesses want to protect their staff and players from potential viruses being carried on cash. It certainly has given it a stronger priority, allowing businesses like Trustly to cater towards this cashless appetite.
Are you in a position to meet the increased demand for cashless gaming?
MR: We have evangelised the benefits of cashless gaming for the past three to four years. We see ourselves as the leader in the market from a financial technology standpoint and strongly believe that we are in the driver’s seat moving forward with any type of cashless gaming within the casino floor.
CJ: Yes, we are. Our VIP Mobility and VIP Financial Center solutions are ready to meet the need accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While true that our industry did not anticipate the increased demand for cashless gaming so soon, signs have been pointing to cashless gaming for some time now.
SB: Yes. We’ve successfully launched Trustly Live, and the reason we entered the land-based industry from online was because we had a demand for the product from our historical customer base. Many of our online customers also have a land-based presence, so it was a natural step for us. It was clear that all the benefits we offer in the online space can be translated into the land-based industry since all players want the same advantages offered online: instant gratification and a simple UX.
What specific products can you provide to cope with this increased demand for cashless gaming?
MR: Our Wallet solution and QuikTicket solutions are two products that are resonating most with our customers. It allows patrons to access funds through a simple and quick cashless, self-service ticket purchase at our kiosks that they can put directly into an EGM. Our mobile wallet solution allows patrons to remotely register for the mobile wallet app. Patrons can use their bank cards to load funds, also add funds directly from checking accounts, and move funds back to their bank accounts.
CJ: Global Payments Gaming Solutions’ VIP Financial Centre provides convenient self-service TITO, bill breaking, e-check, ATM and cash advance capabilities to casino guests. VIP Mobility provides a number of benefits to casino operators, including: reduced cash handling expenses, enhanced security, reduced AML exposure and automated responsible gaming measures, among others.
SB: Trustly Live is already being used by Cherry in Sweden across several land-based establishments. It allows players to make instant deposits from their mobile device directly from the bank account and if they are lucky enough to win, they’ll be able to receive their winnings back to their bank account the same day. From an AML perspective, cash can be difficult to manage, so digitalising payments by going cashless can help operators trace and track where the original payment comes from, which opens many possibilities to digitalise each payment touch point across a casino or sportsbook.What are the main challenges posed to an operator attempting to make the shift towards cashless gaming?
MR: What is key for our customers is these solutions can be implemented at a low cost with minimal impact to operations. The beauty is they utilise the existing infrastructure we provide them today such as settlement, reporting, KYC and AML compliance. We also expect greater patron adoption because of the experience they had interacting with our services pre-COVID. We will give them that sense of security and familiarity.
CJ: Aside from learning the new technology, operators may encounter those who are not ready to make the switch to cashless gaming. Cashless gaming is a change from the utilisation of cash. With any change, it will take time for casino guests, especially those who have grown accustomed to using cash, to become acclimated to the cashless system. However, once they adopt these systems, they will become more open to using them and, perhaps, prefer them.
SB: The biggest challenge an operator will face is the education around implementing new payment processes into their current structure. There are only a few providers doing this and Trustly is the one. You don’t need to remove cash, you can continue operating the way you do today and introduce this as an alternative payment method. There’s also no integration. We offer an application to the operator to install either on an iPhone or iPad or their desktop. They can accept and make payments without any integration required. The real work is on the process and policy change, which has to happen internally, and we now have a product that has been built to satisfy casino operators and sportsbooks, however big or small.
Is it your opinion that the move to cashless gaming will be permanent once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides? Could we see a completely cashless future for gaming?
MR: We have monitored consumer behaviour outside of gaming during the pandemic which has shown a significant increase in usage of contactless cards, mobile wallets and online purchasing. We expect greater adoption of our many self-service solutions.
CJ: Trends in the macroeconomy show cash is fading away rapidly. Cash payments represent only 26% of all payments, a 4% decline from 2017. Since 80% of cash payments are $25 or less, it is not a preferred tender type for larger purchases. Add COVID-19 to the mix, and we will see a faster shift away from cash to contactless forms of payment. While we don’t foresee cash completely going away any time soon, we do expect cashless gaming to continue to grow in popularity.
SB: I think the end of cash is definitely not anytime soon. Lots of people still continue to use it. Some have not yet adopted even the simplest of digital payments available. That said, people are starting to adopt it more and more. There are so many benefits of going cashless for players, so as long as they’re aware of these benefits there will definitely be an adoption and shift to cashless.