Q&A with Simon Dorsen, Director of Gaming at OKTO
After another fantastic CEEGC at the end of last month, we sat down with one of our panelists, Simon Dorsen, Director of Gaming at payments specialist OKTO to talk tech disruption, innovation and CEE opportunities.
What did you enjoy most at CEEGC?
This was my first time attending the CEEGC and when the team asked me to join a panel on the latest innovations in payments and gaming – I knew I’d be in for an remarkable event. We had a lively fintech discussion on all things blockchain and how mobile payment technologies can spell a new era for betting and gaming.
The content throughout the event was high quality and insightful, along with the attendees, who made my time in Budapest thoroughly enjoyable. I am looking forward to progressing the business relationships we formed during CEEGC into long-standing partnerships.
What lies ahead for OKTO in the CEE betting and gaming scene?
With populations that are growing increasingly tech-savvy and proving to bequick adopters of innovations in mobile technology, Central and Eastern European markets are a major focus for us. The challenge we see in the region – and one that we are well positioned to address – is delivering a mobile, omni-channel payments journey. Gaming and betting are major industries in CEE countries, but at the same time, one where the speed of innovation has not kept pace with advancements elsewhere.
Our OKTO.WALLET is targeted at providing a journey which eases the transition to an entirely paperless retail betting experience. It is clear through discussions at the event that there is real appetite for OKTO’s fully digital solution, which we have tailored to tackle the niche challenges in the region. The next wave of payments disruption is here – and we’re glad to be leading the charge.
What innovation will capture the most attention in 2020?
For OKTOm, the future is absolutely mobile. The wallet revolution has already taken the world by storm, as we see Revolut and Apple Pay achieving high adoption. Gaming and betting operators are now interested to understand how they can leverage our OKTO.WALLET in operations. The next generation of betting customer wants to have the freedom of choice to place their bet both online, via his favorite operators, while also being able to do the same within the shop, through the same payment channel.
We’ve worked hard over the last year to develop a product that, not only reduces cash handling costs, but also speeds up the flow of transactions and delivers a better player experience.
Where do you see an opportunity in the CEE market?
Over the past 10 years, the CEE market has matured immensely, which is largely due the development of formal – albeit fragmented – regulatory regimes. The challenge for operators now lies in navigating the complex web of compliance requirements, whilst at the same time avoiding a fragmented customer journey.
The onboarding process is exactly where payment providers such as us can deliver real benefit. With the relevant licenses to provide an end-to-end service, we enable our partners to unlock a wealth of rich customer data, whilst being fully compliant with local anti-money laundering, data protection and gaming laws. Being able to optimise identification processes in a compliant and cost-effective manner will be a strategic advantage for any business – and that requires state-of-the-art technology and multi-layer security to ensure the process is fast, secure and frictionless for the customer.
Any lessons learned that you’d like to share with others?
The CEE market is diverse, both in terms of customer preferences and different regulatory climates. In this framework, the key is having a payment system that is interoperable across channels, flexible to different environments and can respond to change. Our objective has been to solve the challenges retail operators face today with a solution that is designed for the mobile world.
The region promises to be fascinating in terms of growth, particularly as smart-phone penetration becomes widespread and technological advancements unlock even greater capabilities. It is those that act on mobile innovation now that will become the market leaders of tomorrow.
Exclusive Q&A with Alex Morgan-Moodie, Senior Director, Worldpay
We talk here with a passionate gaming industry professional, mainly about the risks of fraud.
Alex Morgan-Moodie, who currently holds the position of Senior Director, Vertical Growth focusing on Gaming Vertical at Worldpay, offers insightful and precise answers about various facets of fraud.
Q. We usually start with a quick bio. Our readers love it. Could you briefly narrate how you landed in the gaming industry and progressed?
A. I started in the gaming industry back in 2009 when I joined PokerStars as an analyst in the payments team. I was soon learning about payment trends and regulatory complexity from Europe to the US, Latin America and other emerging markets. From there I was hooked and after roles in product delivery and corporate development (including working on the integration of Sky Betting & Gaming into the group in 2018 and preparation for the company’s subsequent acquisition by Flutter) I moved to Worldpay to lead our global Gaming vertical strategy. The role felt made for me and I haven’t looked back. My role may have expanded since I joined, but the gaming industry remains my passion.
Q. You joined Worldpay Gaming in September 2020. Could you describe your role and responsibilities?
A. As I mentioned, my role entails defining the strategy for Worldpay’s presence in the Gaming industry together with my team. We support the commercial teams by defining our value proposition, keeping them abreast of trends and developments, and partner with our account managers to support our tier-1 customers in mid to long-range planning. We also work with Legal and Risk to explore new markets and help Product to define the gaming-specific product roadmap. Finally, we are the team that ensure Worldpay shows up at key events – ICE, G2E or our own merchant workshops for example. As you can see, it’s pretty varied but the vertical itself is hugely important to Worldpay – we’ve been supporting customers here for over 20 years and have masses of experience working within operators themselves as well as being payments partners.
Q. You are talking about global digital fraud in London ICE – especially about how digital fraud in the gaming sector increasing even while the incidence of overall global fraud shows signs of decline. What do you think are the reasons why the gaming sector seems particularly vulnerable to fraud?
A. I think the story around fraud is an interesting one because we see fraud attempts in ecommerce increasing generally across the globe, driven in part by the shift online as people have reduced their in-person spending and usage of cash, so with more transactions online, there is more data. With that said, the increase of fraud in the gaming sector appears to be driven by the competitive nature of new, emerging markets and the types of bonus offers we’ve seen, such as in the US in order to gain market share. This leads to ‘friendly fraud’ or ‘bonus abuse’ where opportunists will attempt to create several accounts in order to take advantage of multiple offers. Thankfully, operators in general manage large teams and develop bespoke tools that go some way to managing that risk – but it is certainly a drag on growth.
Q. What are the challenges and opportunities in front of gaming entrepreneurs in balancing the risk of fraud versus the need to provide an amazingly seamless end-user experience?
A. Gaming consumers are savvy and demanding, and this means their expectations around user experience are high. Seamless and real-time are the key tenets and any additional checks – whether they are regulatory requirements, for fraud or in order to protect players for safer gambling purposes – need to fit into that seamless experience as far as possible. This means identifying tools that can operate in real-time whilst minimising the need for manual intervention. Thankfully payment solutions have come a long way since I first joined the industry and we are now able to offer solutions to ensure how a player pays or withdraws winnings is seamless and real-time wherever possible – something our research tells us drives loyalty for customers, which is essential when the marketplace is as competitive as it is.
Q. Now, tell us about the recent Worldpay FIS Global Gaming Payments Report. What are the key insights from that report that explores payments habits in over 40 markets and real-time payment trends?
A. The GGPR is a much-anticipated round up of industry trends and payments information. So it’s a pleasure to be responsible for its delivery after years as an avid reader. This year, as well as the usual country profiles on key established and emerging markets in the industry, we’ve also done deep dives into trends such as the emergent fraud challenges mentioned above, as well as the opportunity presented by omnichannel gaming as users have returned to physical stores and suddenly operators want a single view of their customers across all of their physical and online stores. We also tackle the opportunities presented by improvements in virtual reality technology that will potentially give rise to gaming metaverses of the future, and our thoughts on how the industry is adapting to cryptocurrency/blockchain technology.
Q. Could you talk about the innovations and strategies Worldpay has adopted or planning to adopt to curb the growing fraud in the gaming sector?
A. At Worldpay, our role is to develop tools that augment operators’ in-house solutions and provide yet more data points to help them identify and prevent fraud. We have seen huge success in the sector with our new Fraudsight tool, which uses machine learning to review the billions of transactions Worldpay is processing per annum and continuously update a set of configurable fraud rules for operators to help flag and prevent fraud, providing yet another layer of protection. This is already in the market with significant adoption in the gambling industry, and we’re continuing to find innovative ways of curbing fraud in the gaming sector.
Q. New Neural Language Models (NLM) applications are emerging after the news-making launch of OpenAi’s ChatGPT. How do you view such developments in the machine-learning sector with respect to the risk of fraud in the gaming sector?
A. As mentioned above, Fraudsight is already harnessing machine learning to improve how it identifies fraud. Beyond that, I think the possibility to harness AI technology advancements to refine existing tools and identify new ones is almost limitless. We invest in product innovation teams that are focused on identifying exactly that; so there are lots more to come!
International Women’s Day feature w/ Tatev Harutyunyan, Strategic Programs Manager at Technamin and Nora Galstyan, Head of Compliance at Technamin
What challenges/opportunities does the industry present to women in Armenia?
Nora Galstyan: There are over 20 iGaming industry representatives operating in Armenia, developing software products and making them available worldwide. Taking into account that about 40% of staff in iGaming companies are women, it’s a statistically proven fact that the opportunities given are manifold, and being a woman does not create any barriers in becoming a good specialist and having a great career in this industry.
Tatev Harutyunyan: As cliched as it may sound, I love my country, and one of the reasons is the equality and the respect that Armenia has for women. To put a long story short, we have never had such a notion that women are supposed to earn less than men for doing the exact same job simply because of their gender.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t have challenges or obstacles when being in an industry that is potentially more inclusive towards men. Rather, it’s about your own mindset and your perception of the situation: a challenge – which must be turned into an opportunity.
From the start of your working career, how have things improved within the industry for women?
TH: We’ve had immeasurable progress within the industry (speaking globally here). Being in iGaming since 2016, I have seen the progress that women have been making and we could see more female C-level executives and consultants being hired, not to mention codes of conduct being created to ensure that the industry refrains from exploiting women, particularly at trade shows. It’s all about respect.
NG: It was challenging for me, because I came from the pharmaceutical business to iGaming. Let’s say from a highly bureaucratic, stable industry to a very fast changing, flexible environment where you really need to go the extra mile if you want to meet the industry’s standards and regulations. As a result of this, you are in a constant learning loop and you grow as a professional, irrespective of your gender.
How does Technamin support women within the workplace environment?
NG:You are encouraged to bring your ideas to Technamin and make them happen!
No matter your gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or disability, our company gives you opportunities to use, grow and not be afraid to stumble along the way.
We have equal leading positions in the company which are run by women. I think that’s a clear indicator of how Technamin treats women, creating a safe space which welcomes and values everyone’s input.
TH: At Technamin, we have zero tolerance for discrimination, and truth be told, we don’t even need to touch base on the topic of harassment as it is so non-existent. Speaking about it would not be even feasible, as it will never be an issue in our company. We focus on equality, and everyone here is respectful of fellow employees, giving each of them a fair and just opportunity.
Furthermore, our example here at Technamin challenges our fellow companies to, in turn, challenge their own gender stereotypes and make the workplace a safe environment.
Why is International Women’s Day such an important landmark within the calendar?
TH: It’s a celebration of a milestone per se – the milestone of the progress we’ve made over the decades. A day when we can celebrate the achievements of women without any gender bias.
Obviously there are other days which we celebrate as women, such as anniversaries, birthdays and Mother’s Day, but those are rather individual. International Women’s Day, on the other hand, is celebrated on a global scale so it is a truly unique day.
NG: I think that the message which International Women’s Day is spreading is how crucial it is to lay foundations on which women can actualise and exceed their full potential in making a social impact, sans discrimination.
It is also the perfect opportunity to not only look back at what women have achieved over the years through their unity and strength, but also what that unity and strength yields for the present and the future. There are so many accounts of these accomplishments that we can celebrate, learn from and get inspired by.
BETEGY interview: How Creative Studio can be a game-changer for programmatic advertising
Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to transform the way programmatic advertising is produced by marketers.
Creative Studio is likely to be the missing piece of the jigsaw on both sides of the Atlantic. But how will it change the landscape across different jurisdictions in Europe? We sat down with BETEGY’s award-winning CEO, Alex Kornilov, to gain his insights into how this will give Europe a huge push in the right direction.
Congratulations on the launch of Creative Studio! You first demonstrated the Creative Studio at ICE in Feburary. How much interest did you gain from delegates at the event?
The main aim for us in launching Creative Studio was to completely revolutionise the way marketers approach programmatic advertising in our industry.
The use-case for our technology is clear – marketing spend on acquisition and retention needs to become far more efficient. Operators know this, and this is where Creative Studio comes in – providing a completely new way to automate marketing campaigns. Of course, it was fantastic to unveil it at ICE in February, arguably the biggest European gaming show, with anything up to 30,000 delegates.
The lure of ICE and other trade shows is that we can get feedback and initial views in real time – making it an invaluable part of the development process, as we were able to take it “into the wild” and show it off to customers. We were also able to find out challenges / weakness / areas of improvement for the product, and this is incredibly vital for us, as such an approach can never be replicated just by beta testing internally.
For our European Gaming readers – talk us through Europe, how will this be a game-changer for European brands? Which region in Europe might benefit most from this?
In terms of development, Europe is far more advanced over the US in media buying strategies, so therefore, when we talk to European brands – they instantly understand what we do and any advantages that Creative Studio brings or has the edge over the competition.
Creative Studio is designed to deliver targeted with Swiss-level efficiency. In principle, the advantage that Europe has over the US is the cost of advertising, which is cheaper. Conversely, marketing, and the acquisition of betting customers, are incredibly expensive across the US – just look at DraftKing’s strategy of offering 1,000 USD as a sign-up bonus. Conversely, Europe is a far more mature market in terms of this – with a very different playing field. Given that we can transform efficiency and cost even more, we truly believe that we have the perfect product, and this aligns well with what we want to do in Europe. The cost of implementing this is much lower, and that is what makes the continent such a game-changer in using the technology.
Over 1,000 ads can be created from imported images without coding. Why is being able to import images without coding such a vital tool?
In a nutshell, it radically reduces costs and time. This is such a unique product for the industry that we’ll be able to revolutionise the entire process around using tools and deploying strategies.
So – when creating Creative Studio – we created it with the perspective of “how can we solve pain points for the design and wider marketing department”. In effect, we’re providing the technology that can remove the need for engineers in the process.
After all, we all know that it’s all about the personalisation of ads and targeted demographics – and I have no doubt that Creative Studio will transform results, as well as putting in-house marketers in the driving seat for managing campaigns, rather than the need to outsource to agencies.
How much of a challenge was it to design the Creative Studio and add it onto BETEGY’s award-winning platform?
There were three key steps in how we wanted to take designing Creative Studio forward. The first was approaching the thinking of what our design department requires to facilitate this process were they to undertake programmatic for themselves. We felt Creative Studio, although hugely innovative, would be a relatively quick fix to design and be made available to our partners within 12 months of inception. Which it has been!
We then wanted to create the product in a way that leaves the door open for it to continuously evolve as time goes on. Was it challenging? It really was – but we approached this with a specific goal and a plan in place. I have no doubt, given that such technology is entering new space, and we’ll be upgrading it as time goes on – just like any new technology. For myself, I am intrigued to see how Creative Studio can continue to add value as it develops further, as I feel we will be in a different ballpark altogether by the time 2024 comes around. After all – greatness comes from creating an innovation and then scaling it in real time.
Are there any other projects in the pipeline that could grow BETEGY’s platform further?
That’s a great follow-on question. Our key strength as a company is the personalisation technology we put in the hands of our partner.
When it comes to plans for the future – we’ve got a serious pipeline in place, so much so – we have to be careful over which routes to go down first!
We know exactly what we’ll be delivering in each quarter over the next year – each of those are designed to provide products and solutions with a real use-case, as well as truly fill gaps in demand we know exist in the market. However, for now, Creative Studio is the jewel in our innovation crown for 2023, and we have high hopes for this feature to prove to be a real game-changer for marketing departments across every vertical in the industry.
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