Casino Guru News at SBC Summit Barcelona 2022 was busy. One of the people we interviewed was PXP Financial CEO and Co-founder Kamran Hedjri who sat down with us and spoke about payment solutions in the iGaming and gambling industries. We discussed a range of matters, from the importance of cash and ATMs to the inexorable appeal of digital payments and the importance frictionless and "invisible" payment processes play in customer satisfaction.
Q1: Kamran, there is hardly a better-qualified person to ask about the way the impact payment solutions have on the gambling industry. Can you tell us a little more about how customers’ ability to conduct transactions in the gambling industry impacts their experience?
Well, I think payments are a fundamental part of the whole experience across the board. If no money is coming in, then there is no gaming and if, in the case of a win, the money isn’t going out – that is not a very good experience either.
So, yes, payments are fundamental. Overall, the less friction there is – the better. Customers want to have the best possible experience, similar even to Uber. It should be effortless. In a way, the more "invisible" the experience, the better.
The same thing applies to when people just want to cash out their wins – they expect this to happen instantaneously. Now, obviously, there are a lot of regulatory requirements to factor in here as well, such as player protection, AML measures, and other requirements. Sometimes this process can become more cumbersome as a result.
Things have to be balanced and kept in line with regulatory norms and customer expectations – compliance and ease of use – so that the experience can be as frictionless as possible.
Q2: Nevada Gaming Commission has recently approved cashless wagering on casino floors. Why do you think this is important and what do you think the implications for the industry and consumer experience are?
I think this is a very important advancement in this area. Cashless is part of digital payments and it’s a very key area. The customer wants to have an omnichannel experience. They want to feel that what they do in a casino or in a store and what they do online is a similar experience.
This helps unify the experience and it also helps give people more options and possibilities to do something that they enjoy. At PXP we also develop similar solutions, such as Cage, and we are at the forefront of this.
Q3: What’s the role of omnichannel payment experiences in the land-based sector and why is it important do you think?
Yes, I alluded to that in the previous question. But here it is, basically customers in the gaming sector, they are just like anyone else. We have seen customers experience rapid digitalization in every aspect of their daily lives – whether it’s retail shopping or something else. We want to take that experience to pretty much every part of the industry – whether it concerns casino gaming on-site or online play.
Q4: Your company talks about the use of ATMs; can you tell us a little more about how ATMs fit the needs of players today, assuming that the world is shifting towards digital money?
It’s an interesting question and we can put it this way – do we need cash? Cash is definitely not dead and it’s definitely here. And yes, there are significant efforts by central banks to introduce solutions such as Central Bank Digital Currencies, right? But look, we are not quite there yet, and this is yet to come.
Even then I think there is an element of cash that will be a part of our lives, and an ATM is a necessity. I do not go to an ATM that often, and I am always digital, though, but not everyone is like me. I think we need to think about it this way – some sectors are simply more comfortable going digital and others are not.
Q5: Do you think that the adoption of more digital payment methods will also lead to the adoption of new types of gambling experiences, such as those based on the metaverse?
Metaverse is a very important word. I do think that there is going to be a big part that the metaverse is going to play. We are not quite there yet, but the development is ongoing and headed in that direction. It’s not quite new either – we used to have "Second Life" if you remember.
Companies tried at the time to establish themselves in it. It was quite a good experience and people were experimenting with it – us included. This time around, it’s a global phenomenon though, and there is a global initiative in that direction. Digital payment options are definitely going to be a part of that, cryptocurrencies, stablecoins – all of these things are going to play their role.
Q6: What is your opinion of the metaverse today and do you see it as a force for good in the gambling industry?
I think that it’s good that you have a type of multiple experiences in the metaverse. That’s definitely good. I think regulation is also a key part of the metaverse and if anything is good or bad, right? It’s interesting, because personally I am not completely sure how player protection is going to shape up, for example, and this truly remains to be seen.
How will regulators start to really advance in that direction and specify what the differences between real and metaverse life are? This is something that we will see how it works out. I am sure regulators will find a way to figure out how this will end up.
Q7: Can you clarify the idea of "invisible payments" and how it can be implemented to match regulatory and consumer needs and expectations?
Yes, I think a lot of that is about player identity. Making sure that the player is doing the transaction in reality. So, this has to do with things like face recognition, print recognition, and so on. That is something that from a technological perspective, we are doing right. I have seen quite a few technological innovators already deploying these solutions. All of these things will help us make payments as invisible as possible.
Q8: What do you see as the main hurdle for the adoption of innovative payment solutions today – regulators, operators, or consumers being reluctant?
I mean consumers may need to adapt to new payment options. At the moment, what do we have? We have cards which is a fantastic mechanic – it has been there for 60 years or so. We have open banking, and that’s coming in, we have a cryptocurrency and digital assets. And all of these things are going to play a role – and cash is still going to be a part of the experience, over the counter or otherwise.
Digital cash is also a part of the experience. I think regulators are having both hands full to make sure that this AML landscape is safe. Operators are obviously always going where the consumers are and what they want. If there is a demand for a certain payment option, operators will naturally start offering it. Localization is another one.
You have different payment portfolios for different countries. It’s a locality, regulatory, consumer-adaptive solution. That’s the thing to keep it in balance.
Q9: Can you make one big prediction for 2023 in relation to how payments in the gambling industry would evolve?
I think one of the things I can bet on – cryptocurrency is a question mark still. Some people are doing it as an experiment. But still, I think that we will get a little more certainty on that. Open banking still is a hot topic, and a lot of people are talking and doing it as well. We will see more concrete development in that area as well. I also think that omnichannel experience and feeling are going to be more relevant as well.
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