Return On Investment: The Real Deal With Phil Smith

Tech innovation has been stratospheric over the last 20-years and shows no signs of abating anytime soon.

For iGaming brands–operating in such a tech-reliant environment–this means facing and outpacing the relentless demands of staying ahead of the game, and mastering, super-fast, ever-evolving AI and Machine Learning. 

With so many new products emerging on the market, especially within the fintech sector, this exciting but potentially fraught space requires a very special kind of leadership and business intelligence.

Enter industry guru Phil Smith, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Paytently – “The Man With All The Solutions”, best suited to your specific business needs.

In an iGF special, we caught up with Phil to learn his thoughts on the future of fintech adoption in the iGaming industry and, most importantly, to mine his knowledge on how operators can achieve maximum fintech Return on Investment (ROI) going forward.

You have a vast wealth of experience as a tech leader, spanning decades. How has this shaped your philosophy on how technology can be suborned, leveraged and best maximised?

“Having been in the tech industry for over three decades, I’ve witnessed the ebb and flow of countless technologies and projects. While it’s tempting to be swayed by the siren song of each new innovation, the true success stories always cut through the noise. Behind every simple interface is a complex tapestry of technology, some stemming from the space race of the 1960s and others leveraging cutting-edge AI.

“What separates the tech giants from the rest isn’t just their innovation but their adaptability and deep understanding of the system’s intricacies. The underlying tech stack, while diverse and multi-layered, still runs on foundational principles. As we layer-on modern solutions, we add more complexity. Managing this ever-evolving maze is both the challenge and the art.

“I believe that the key to navigating this landscape is:

Understanding Complex Dependencies: Dive deep into the mechanics and intricacies.

Prioritising High-Quality Engineering Practices: Lean on proven strategies, while being open to innovation.

Making Change Routine: In a fast-paced industry; adaptability is not just an advantage, it’s a necessity.

“AI, while promising, isn’t a magic bullet. Its effectiveness lies in how well we understand its application in solving real-world challenges. The fine line between logic and blind faith in technology is one we tread daily. To win in this high-stakes game, we must be well-versed, agile and ever-ready to embrace the next shift.”

Payment-related processes in iGaming are uniquely complex by nature. How can operators best leverage innovative technology, such as AI, to mitigate this?

“The iGaming sector, with its intricate payment processes, continuously seeks tools that can help navigate its unique challenges – enter Artificial Intelligence, often heralded as the newest game-changer in our technological arsenal.

Extracting Value from Data Assets: AI is unparalleled when it comes to drawing insights from multifaceted and evolving data assets. By viewing an asset as a combination of data and its exploitation means AI can dynamically interpret patterns, making sense of the myriad transactions in the iGaming space.

The Double-edged Sword of Complexity: While AI offers solutions, it isn’t without its intricacies. Introducing AI into our systems can add another layer of complexity. However, with the right implementation and understanding, the rewards can far outweigh the challenges.

Trust in AI: A pivotal aspect of integrating AI into iGaming is building trust. Ensuring that AI solutions are transparent and accountable is crucial. Operators need to have confidence not just in the results AI provides but in the processes behind those results.

“In essence, while AI holds promise in simplifying the labyrinthine world of iGaming payments, it requires careful navigation. Embracing AI is not just about adopting the latest technology; it’s about understanding its depth, its potential and ensuring it’s a trustworthy ally in our ongoing quest to enhance the iGaming experience.”

What are the most common pitfalls operators experience when trying to integrate new tech and bring a product to market as quickly as possible? How can they achieve speed without compromising quality?

“In the race to bring the latest technological advancements to market, operators are often ensnared by the seductive allure of speed. However, speed, when misinterpreted, can lead to pitfalls that often outlive their initial rush.

The Quality-Speed Paradox: It may sound counterintuitive, but achieving high speed in the market hinges on unwavering quality. Only by committing to quality from the outset can we create systems that are efficient, effective and agile for the long haul.

The Debt of Accidental Complexity: As we chase rapid deployment, we often inadvertently introduce complexity to our systems. This is a debt which, if left unchecked, accumulates interest and must inevitably be repaid – often at a higher cost in time and resources.

Prioritise Excellence: Whether it’s design intricacies or the engineering tools we employ, we mustn’t compromise. A commitment to excellence not only sets the foundation right but pays dividends in the form of fewer glitches and smoother transitions.

Metrics That Matter: Speed isn’t merely about getting to market first; it’s about doing it right. Key performance indicators such as Release Speed, Release Failure Rate, Time to Release Features and Time to Resolve Production Issues give us a balanced view of both our pace and proficiency.

The Power of Automation: Investing in a robust platform engineering team means creating systems that can automate repetitive tasks. This not only ensures consistency but frees-up valuable human resources to focus on innovation.

The Right Team: Beyond just skills, seek out individuals who are inquisitive, optimistic, and embrace openness. A diverse mindset often paves the way for innovation, troubleshooting, and above all, resilience.

Pizza Pie: While it might seem lighthearted, never underestimate the bonding and brainstorming that occurs over a slice of pizza. Feeding your team goes beyond just sustenance; it’s about camaraderie and shared purpose.

“The quest for speed should never overshadow the importance of quality. By striking the right balance and equipping ourselves with the right tools, mindset, and even the occasional pizza, operators can ensure that they not only reach the market swiftly but also leave an indelible mark of excellence.”

Our iGaming is a fast-moving industry with new tech solutions emerging on the market constantly. With so much choice available, how can tech professionals best decipher the best fit–and real value–to their business?

Alignment of Values: Before diving into any new solution, it’s paramount to reflect and assess if the technology aligns with the core values and long-term vision of your company. A solution, no matter how sophisticated, will only integrate seamlessly and add tangible value if it resonates with your organisation’s ethos.

Embrace Inquisitiveness: While it’s tempting to stay in our technological comfort zones, it’s only by exploring, by giving every promising solution its day in the sun, that we truly discern its worth. Try everything once, and you’ll be surprised at the unexpected gems you discover amidst the clamour.

Keep an Open Mind: The rapid evolution of iGaming technologies requires us to be both flexible and discerning. By keeping an open mind, we foster an environment where innovation is welcomed, assessed fairly and adopted if it meets our rigorous criteria.

“In essence, while the horizon of iGaming technology may seem limitless, it’s through alignment, inquisitiveness and openness that we can chart a course towards solutions that don’t just fit, but also amplify our business’s unique strengths.”

To stay ahead of the curve in such a competitive market as iGaming, operators need high-performance practices and processes in order to provide quality customer experiences at scale. How can a fintech solutions provider like Paytently help with this?

“In the rapidly evolving iGaming industry, staying ahead means balancing speed with stability. As the challenges grow more complex, the effort to overcome them intensifies.

“This is where Paytently steps in. We are more than just a fintech solutions provider. We are experts in the iGaming landscape. Our deep understanding of the industry’s demands ensures our partners are always a step ahead.

“If you value quality products, top-notch engineering and straightforward collaboration, Paytently is the partner you’re looking for. Our commitment is clear: We prioritise quality from the very foundation. With a high-performing team equipped to adapt quickly, partnering with us means you’re opting for a strategy set to win.”

Editor’s Note:

Phil clearly acknowledges that the iGaming sector, by its very nature, is made up of a multitude of intricate payment processes, causing it to continuously seek tools that can help navigate its unique challenges. 

In many ways, new tech such as AI may be able to help overcome these issues. But not without proper due diligence and a true understanding of what makes technology valuable in the first place. 

As new potential markets continue to open up around the world, Phil cautions that these new regions have very specific tech needs, so the quest for speed should never outshine the need for quality. 

Through achieving the right balance–and being armed with the best tools and a winning, open, mindset–, operators can ensure that they not only reach the market swiftly but also scale-up sustainably.

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