Explaining how data and promotions have unlocked a new world of marketing opportunities for the industry, Electrocoin’s Gabi Stergides backs British FECs to quickly catch up to the global cashless trend, hailing 2020 as “the year of plastic”.
Coinslot: With 2020 approaching, how far into the cashless payments race is the UK industry? What has operator feedback been like for your solutions so far this year?
Gabi Stergides: Were still at an early stage in the UK, altogether I think there are less than 20 installs out there so its early adopters who are trying to get a march ahead of other operators.
I think that despite being behind the USA and Middle East/Asia at present, as a nation we tend to catch up quickly and overtake these global trends to develop them to the demand of our UK customer base. So far this year, we’ve installed another three Intercard systems and have seven planned already for next year. The momentum is building for sure, and I think in three years time it will be a different situation and those who have gained the early experience will be best positioned to take advantage of the changes.
It’s exactly the same conversation we had about ticket machines ten years ago, when many said: “Why would I want to do that?”, “It’s too much work”, “I don’t want stock and tickets” – yet when you look at the industry now, an FEC sector without ticket games is very hard to imagine.
CS: Data now informs operational decision making in most industries, do cashless solutions finally give amusements operators the same valuable insights into customer behaviour? How have operators of Intercard used data to drive growth in their business?
GS: Of course, we can now see to the penny what average spend is, average time use, time on location, best sales packages, busy times, quiet times, sometimes in fact there is so much data and information that is coming back at us we don’t know where to start.
The beauty of the Intercard Cashless system is that other people have been creating reports on it for 20 years so there is a report for everything or you can create it yourself. One of our customers identified that their quietest time was actually Wednesday afternoons and Thursday mornings so created packages accordingly and has seen business jump 30 percent. That’s not bad for a few clicks on a screen.
CS: Once operators have got the data, what is the key to utilising it to its fullest potential? How does Intercard facilitate this?
GS: Our operators this year have all said to me that they have finally “got it”, and its promotions, promotions, promotions. And marketing. And put it all on plastic. While Intercard still allows tickets to be awarded in paper or electronically, the fact that people can pay for their entertainment time with plastic is driving the uptake in machine income. The flexibility of Intercard enables our operators to create deals such as “20 percent off Tuesdays” and “all you can play videos for 60 minutes”, providing them with the means to change prices on a daily or even hourly basis. Due to the nature of coin operated machines, this is another benefit that all other industries have enjoyed while FECs had previously been restricted to fixed pricing. Expanding on this idea, the most successful use of promotions we’ve seen this year has been in the form of birthday packages. It’s a boon for operators and a breathe of fresh air for parents who can pay £20 worth of credit and receive one hour of guaranteed minimum playtime, meaning they will know exactly what it will cost them and that they won’t have a bunch of bored kids with no money 20 minutes later. It’s truly a game changer for the industry.
CS: There has been a lot of talk at recent trade shows around the creation of an industry-standard payment solution, do you see this as a possibility?
GS: Simply, no. There are too many different businesses, ideas, and methods of payment and operation, which combined create a logistical backend nightmare. I think we need to remind everyone, we are an innovative entrepreneurial industry and we will create any solutions we need, driven by market forces and not diktat from up top. It’s a nice idea, but look at the wider world, Mastercard, Visa, Amex etc. How can we be expected to do a one size fits all when the world at large can’t? But for now, Intercards POS solution will support all of those cards, including Amex, and as future developments come along, such as blockchain- based cryptocurrencies, we will be sure to stay ahead of the curve! We have shown this through the Intercard Impulse reader, which will accept card payments directly from mobile-based payment solutions such as Apple Pay. We think 2020 will be a great year for cashless – the year of the plastic!