iGaming Payments 2021: The Next Frontier – with Isabelle Delisle, Head of Group Payments at Pinnacle
We are currently experiencing a digital revolution that has catalysed the emergence of new technology such as AI, new territories such as LatAm and new verticals such as esports.
The iGaming landscape is constantly evolving and it’s our responsibility, as industry stakeholders, to move along with it, adapting our processes or products to match changing customer expectations.
We spoke with Isabelle Delisle, Head of Group Payments at Pinnacle to get a better understanding of what the future holds for our industry and the key role payments will play in this growth.
Your recent partnership with CashCode is a great example of Pinnacles’ commitment to tech innovation. What benefits do eVouchers provide the global esports community and do you think they will catch on in traditional sports betting verticals?
“As you rightly pointed out, the eSports community is global, but also with a continually broadening demographic. Additionally, although the esports community are a unique demographic, they are also bettors and there is a significant overlap when it comes to payments. This means it’s vital we offer the right kind of payment options to allow our customers, particularly new customers, to make quick seamless deposits. The process should be frictionless between a customer wishing to play or bet with a product like esports, and effortlessly making a payment. With eVouchers like CashtoCode eVoucher, we ensure our customers always have a 24/7, real-time available option.
“eVouchers have long been used in sportsbetting and other gaming verticals as they provide simplicity, speed, reliability and trust, which is what all customers are seeking, whether it’s eSports, sportsbetting, or any other product.”
Emerging igaming regions such as LatAm provide great opportunities for growth. What do you think are some of the biggest payment challenges in this area and how can they be best overcome?
“The LatAm markets are so different and unique, the main challenges go from ensuring the right local bank accounts, ensuring sustainable solutions are implemented, understanding the individual cultural behaviours and being able to adapt your processes to suit. Some of the markets require a little more time for customers to build trust in the brand and so the ATV builds slowly. All have challenges with regards to Fraud, AML and RG as player patterns are unique and a localized approach is needed.”
There seems to be a never-ending tide of tech innovations appearing in the igaming space, with new concepts such as AI, Biometric recognition, or even the Blockchain. How do you identify which new products are really of true value and what new payments related technologies are most excited about?
“That is the Holy Grail of questions. I think the most important thing is to have a strong network of local experts which you can trust to guide you, speak to your account managers, salespeople, and customers. I also recommend people reach out to their peers because we have some of the smartest and best people working in this industry. This collaboration enables products to be adopted throughout the space and gives them the best chance of sticking and ultimately providing our bettors with the best experience possible. As a result, we see it as an interesting balance between a competitive advantage and industry standard. Of course, we need to ensure we are following regulator and AML guidelines which are sometimes a little delayed, so that is also a challenge and source of frustration in such a dynamic vertical.”
Some industry commentators believe the igaming sector still lacks innovation and we lag behind other industries such as Insurance or Finance. Do you think we should look to these industries or any others for new learnings or innovative ideas?
“I am not sure I agree with the premise of the question, I think we have been paving the way for many years, what do Insurance and Finance offer that Gambling doesn’t? That said, we should always be looking outside our vertical to learn and improve. I think it is changing, but historically the ‘cashier’ was treated as a secondary item on the website, with the focus on the product. It is an interesting marriage, without a good product (SportsBook, Casino, Poker, Bingo etc) the business does not grow, and the product is a revenue stream, but of course, if your customers cannot send and receive funds, your company will not succeed, but the cashier is a cost area. Simply put, it is easy to see how resources would be prioritized. I think this has changed significantly in the last few years and along with AML, Responsible Gaming and Fraud the focus and importance of these verticals has shifted to be in parallel with the product.”
Creating a frictionless customer journey will always be the ultimate goal for an operator. How does increased regulation across the Continent affect your ability to do this?
“This is something I get asked about a lot. As contactless payments advance customers want to replicate their seamless physical experience in the online world and as a result, the need to keep up with the user expectation online is ever increasing. Regulators are requiring stronger AML standards, lower transaction thresholds and placing a significant responsibility of policing people’s financial behaviour on a slew of online businesses. These are two conflicting trends, and it is a real challenge. Customers do not understand why they need to go through so many steps and so we have to do our best to make it as seamless and easy as possible. Using strong reliable partners to help with KYC and AML checks while also building strong Responsible Gaming tools and processes is a constant focus. As I said, this is a big change in the way companies are working now and requires a big investment to ensure good implementation.”
From speaking with Isabelle, it seems that many of the products and processes we need to take this industry to the next level, via payments, are already established. The challenge comes with being able to connect them seamlessly. This brings a greater need for industry collaboration and facilitating regulation. KYC and AML will always be the main focus but it’s easy to get distracted with these objectives and forget about the truest objective which is to make sure your customers have a fun, frictionless experience. It seems as though more operators are beginning to focus more on this, especially the likes of Pinnacle, which is extremely encouraging to see. The future of igaming payments seems very bright indeed!