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OKTO ready to answer industry’s cashless question, once and for all

George Miller

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OKTO ready to answer industry's cashless question, once and for all
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Introducing a software-based solution carefully tailored to Britain’s retail gaming sector, Simon Dorsen, director of gaming at OKTO – joined by Gambling Business Group (GBG) CEO Peter Hannibal – explains how the financially licensed company has leveraged GBG’s new EFT protocol to provide operators with a cashless system that allows players to use, move and collect their funds instantly – whether it’s on a gaming machine, at the bar, or in their local high street shops.

International fintech provider OKTO is ready to give Britain’s retail gaming sectors a much needed post-lockdown boost by offering the definitive solution to the longstanding challenge of cashless payments.

While there remains competition to provide the sector-wide cashless solution the industry requires, OKTO’s director of gaming Simon Dorsen, an 18-year veteran of the gaming industry, believes the company’s strict financial licenses, vast technological expertise, and unrivalled wallet universality all put OKTO’s secure and complete cashless solution ahead of the pack.

“Cashless and digital payments in the UK is the norm now and today’s consumers demand the digitisation of payments across the economy, and in gaming as well. We have tailored our wallet towards the unique requirements of gaming, but we’re not just a gaming wallet,” explained Dorsen. “Money in the OKTO ecosystem can be moved or spent anywhere that accepts digital payments, whether it’s pubs, bingo clubs or high street shops – and our licenses, upholding the strictest of security standards, mean that any funds with us are always fully protected. The fact that we are financially licensed is very important, as it means both merchants and users can be confident that OKTO is backed by central banks across Europe.”

In addition to its licenses and software-based solution, a recently developed Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) protocol, made publicly available by Gambling Business Group (GBG), has given OKTO an advantage over the industry’s false-starts at a cashless solution. Without the need for any additional hardware or upfront costs, the protocol makes it possible for OKTO to bring any digital gaming machine into its payments ecosystem – finally putting the retail gaming sector on a level playing field with the rest of Britain’s high street economy.

“We are thrilled to be working on established industry protocol which is fully supported by the principle manufacturers of digital machines in pubs and AGC’s. It enables our truly cashless solution to allow users to go up to a gaming machine in the pub, press a button to use OKTO, and deposit funds to start playing. When they cashout, they get the money back in their cashless wallet instantly. Additionally, we are able to onboard pubs as merchants, so if the users want to immediately spend on food and drink in the pub, they can; either through their OKTO.WALLET app or, in the near future, from their OKTO debit card that is linked to the wallet.”

Indeed, much like increasingly popular neo-banks such as Monzo and Revolut, OKTO allows users to move and use their funds instantly, as they wish, putting the power directly in the user’s hands. It’s not just a “one-use” wallet, as users can extend the wallet usage beyond gaming machines and into the wider economy. This is not only ideal for giving players the most frictionless experience possible, but also for allowing operators to easily move, manage and count their digital cashboxes, detailed Dorsen.

“Because the transactions are instant within our ecosystem, you can dramatically move to a settlement time that is instant,” he continued. “We can automate and move towards an instant settlement process. Compared to the traditional cash dependent system, this will allow operators to reimagine the way they operate.”

GBG CEO Peter Hannibal, whose open EFT protocol allows payment providers to ‘talk’ to any connected digital gaming machines, believes that OKTO’s entry into the retail gaming sectors has come at the perfect time. Not only has the protocol made it so much easier from a technical perspective, but with Covid-19 creating a sentiment of fear around the use of cash, the increasing trend of cashless payments is affecting all sectors of the industry more than ever.

“During lockdown we learned that bingo customers were concerned about using cash after the clubs reopened,” Hannibal explained. “The operation of traditional bingo has always been dependent upon coins and cash, but that clearly needs to change, and companies like OKTO will enable them to do that. Products like OKTO’s cashless solution have the potential to transform many gambling activities including bingo – and there’s an existential need for it now, even if there wasn’t before.”

Importantly, OKTO also provides a range of social responsibility tools to players through the fintech provider’s app, incorporating a strict age verification process, self-exclusion, betting limits, and profit and loss calculator tools that further enhance consumers’ protection. In addition, there is a section embedded in the app with national problem gambling helplines.

Hannibal summarised that OKTO’s solution presents a rare opportunity for the industry; a situation in which everyone’s a winner. The player gets more choice, the regulator gets responsible gaming tools in the players’ hands, and the operator gets a boost to business efficiency when it’s most needed. And with no upfront costs, it’s a boost that Dorsen believes operators will welcome.

“I have noticed a real change in operator’s mindsets over the past 18 months. There was a tipping point last year, even before COVID-19 came along, where operators realised that they need to learn about and adopt new cashless solutions. Now, naturally, we are seeing the consumer shift, and because of COVID-19 all demographics are becoming more comfortable using cashless payments,” said Dorsen. “The current economic circumstances are requiring operators to focus on efficiencies more than ever, and because our software based solution connects directly to the GBG/EFT protocol, we can provide fast deployment without any upfront capital expenditure. There’s not a big financial hurdle to implementing our cashless solution, so we think that operators will be eager to finally unlock the benefits they’ve been hearing about for so long, and we’re ready to show them exactly how our end-to-end cashless solution can help their business.”

Latest News

Neccton solution brings ultimate protection to PlayOJO customers

George Miller

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Neccton solution brings ultimate protection to PlayOJO customers
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Popular online casino and bingo site PlayOjo has announced the launch of Safe Mate, a tool based on Neccton’s mentor player protection system to help cement the company’s image as ‘the fair online casino’. The move brings the market-leading problem gambling identification tool to PlayOJO customers in Spain, Sweden and the UK.

PlayOJO – the fair online Casino and Bingo site, powered by SkillOnNet – is now using Safe Mate, which allows customers to track how much money they have deposited, how much money has been wagered and how much time has been spent on the site over the last six months.

The new tool, developed in collaboration with behavioural scientists and psychologists, tracks player data, detects risk patterns, changes in behaviour and flags signs of potential problem gambling. It acts as a Safer Gambling assistant for each player that visits the site and gives them a health score and friendly nod when their habits are changing.

In addition, Safe Mate allows players to compare what they think they have spent with what they have actually spent. And if a player is considered at risk, they are given personal feedback and tailored communications to help prevent problem gambling from occurring.

Dr Michael Auer, director at Neccton, said: “Yet another of Europe’s top casino brands have recognised the value of our software. It gives us great satisfaction to know that players are really being cared for by operators – and that those same operators recognise that a well looked-after player is one that can play for a longer time without developing unhealthy habits.”

Peter Bennett, Head of Brand at PlayOJO, said: “We are delighted to partner with Neccton to offer our players this state-of-the-art new Safer Gambling tool. We pride ourselves on being the fair online Casino and Bingo site and will continue to find new innovative methods and tools to help promote safe play for our customers.”

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Central Europe

ZITRO’S LINK KING IN “AVANT-PREMIÈRE” IN SWITZERLAND IN NEUCHATEL CASINO

George Miller

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ZITRO’S LINK KING IN “AVANT-PREMIÈRE” IN SWITZERLAND IN NEUCHATEL CASINO
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Zitro’s popular Link King arrives at the prestigious Casino Neuchâtel, in Switzerland, being the first time that this product, which has generated a global impact, has arrived in the Central European country.

Thierry Berne, Head of Operations at Casino Neuchâtel, expressed his satisfaction at including Link King in their entertainment offer: “We are delighted to be the very first Casino in Switzerland offering Link King, as we know of the success of this product in other European casinos, and at Casino Neuchâtel we always seek to offer the best to our customers”.

Nadège Teyssedre, Sales Director for EMEA at Zitro, added: “We want to congratulate the Casino de Neuchâtel on its recent reopening. Casino Neuchâtel is a renowned establishment in Switzerland and throughout Europe, and we are extremely pleased and proud to see that Link King is being received with so much enthusiasm by its customers. I would like to thank the entire Casino Neuchâtel team for their trust in Zitro, and we hope this will be the first of many other future installations that will allow us to bring more of our incredible games to Swiss players.”

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Industry News

FDJ Reports 5.2% Rise in Revenue in Q1 2021

Niji Narayan

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FDJ Reports 5.2% Rise in Revenue in Q1 2021
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

French gaming giant La Française des Jeux (FDJ) has reported a year-on-year rise in revenue and stakes during its first quarter, despite continuing restrictions on retail activity related to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Total revenue for the three months to March 31 amounted €537.6m, up 5.2% from €511.2m in the same period last year. Gross gaming revenue was up by 5.1% year-on-year to €525.9m, while revenue from other activities jumped 10.7% from €10.6m to €11.8m.

FDJ said the rise in revenue was driven by an increase in stakes, with players spending a total of €4.6bn, up 11.8% from €4.11bn in Q1 of last year, despite the operator facing longer restrictions related to the pandemic than the same period in 2020.

However, despite the limitations, player spending was up across all areas of the group, most notably in sports betting, where stakes hiked 46.1% to €1.1bn, helped by the return of the traditional sports calendar after disruption in the latter part of Q1 2020.

Lottery remained FDJ’s main source of income with stakes here rising 3.8% to €3.46bn, or 10.0% when excluding the Amigo game, which is offered in bars. FDJ said the closure of bars and other Covid-19 measures had a significant impact on Amigo, with stakes down 50%.

Draw-based game stakes were up 2.6% year-on-year to €1.3bn, while instant games stakes also increase 4.6% to €2.1bn

In terms of where customers were gambling, land-based operations remained the most popular source, with stakes here rising 5.7% to €4.0bn, despite the restrictions. Digital stakes jumped 64.7% to €1.4bn as more players turned to online during the quarter.

Players won a total of €3.20bn gambling with FDJ during the quarter, up 13.7% from €2.81bn in the same period last year. This left €1.40bn in gross gaming revenue and after paying €915.7m in public levies, revenue stood at €537.6m.

“Despite the enduring impact of the health situation on the environment, the first quarter confirmed the good trends in our business, with stakes exceeding the levels recorded before the crisis,” FDJ chairwoman and chief executive Stéphane Pallez said.

“After reaching almost 10% of our global stakes in 2020, digital stakes continue to grow at a strong rate whereas our network activity is maintained. The events program for lottery and a busy sporting calendar, including Euro 2021 in football, should allow this momentum to continue in the months to come.”

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