Tim Stratton: GPT will become an option expected by players in venues throughout the UK

Tim Stratton Game Payment Technology
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2022 looks set to be a landmark year for Game Payment Technology as the industry driven project rolls out a series of new initiatives that will strengthen its presence further across the varied sector bases. Tim Stratton, director at GPT, is in confident mood, and why not? Game Payment is heading towards the ‘widest possible coverage’ on pub machines, and it’s aiming for a similar reach within the| bingo sector too. What began life as an innovation to be developed by the industry for the industry, is now making its mark throughout the entire industry.

 

Coinslot: There’s an eager anticipation around the industry for a cashless payment option. How’s the GPT project going?

Tim Stratton: The project is going from strength to strength. Being independent, we are able to offer Game Payment on a wide range of AWP machines, both digital and analogue. We now are live with Blueprint machines and will announce availability on several other manufacturers early in 2022.

Our ability to support all machines in a pub is proving particularly popular. Game Payment has also been implemented on juke boxes, pinball, and a wide variety of other amusement machines. Our pool table solution, running for over 3 years on 4 AA batteries, is a ground-breaking innovation: cashless payment can be accepted without the need to power the pool table. The cost is a fraction of implementing a contactless card reader.

The pool table solution is just one of several innovations that GPT released during the year. You can expect to see a stream of more of them throughout 2022.

Our summer trial on Brighton Palace Pier was an enormous success. The Game Payment solution was tested in one of the most rigorous environments as record visitor numbers packed onto the pier. We are now planning the next evolution of Game Payment with Brighton for summer 2022.

Levels of play, and player adoption have been growing steadily. Typically, we have seen 33 percent growth in play per machine per month since August, although we expect Covid fears in December will slow this. Some machines have taken more through Game Payment than cash. One of our operators is averaging nearly £500 per month per machine. We did not expect this success this early in the project.

Coinslot: GPT have had a number of key breakthroughs across the sectors – AWPs with Reflex, jukeboxes with NSM and also with pool and table games. Can you talk us through the versatility of the app?

Tim Stratton: Throughout 2021, the Game Payment cashless solution was implemented and tested with several new manufacturers, including Blueprint and, most recently, NSM Music, the manufacturer of commercial jukeboxes and background music systems. Availability on many other manufacturers’ machines will be announced in 2022.

Game Payment has become the only multi-machine solution that works across all machine types in all venues – for example, gaming machines, grabber machines, virtual reality machines, pool tables, and jukeboxes. A player can use one app to play on all the machines in a pub, club, or arcade, without the need for cash.

Part of our versatility is the range of options available to manufacturers. Those with internet-connected machines can use the GBG protocol. Unconnected digital machines can use our software solution. Reelbased AWPs and non-gaming machines use our SLU hardware units. We have also developed a range of personalisation boards for pool tables to allow plug-and-play installation.

The player experience remains the same across all machines.

Coinslot: You’ve conducted a thorough development programme for the cashless app over the past year and a half. What’s the next phase for GPT?

Tim Stratton: In the pub sector, GPT will soon announce availability on more machine manufacturers, providing the best possible coverage for both retail and free trade. We will integrate with more and more non- AWP machines. We are now starting conversations with AGCs and bingo operators.

As I said, you can anticipate a continuation of the stream of innovations throughout 2022. We will provide the best possible player experience. Having a solution that is designed for the pub and amusement sector means that the app is easy to use and registration is painless.

We now have access to a reservoir of data, which we are using to measure the success of each enhancement, learning from our experience to date, to drive ever increasing adoption.

Our aim for 2022 is for Game Payment to be a recognised brand for all players across the UK and continue to be the payment method of choice as we move towards mass adoption.

Coinslot: GPT is an unusual but innovative project between an industry sector and a payment technology specialist. How has this model worked and is it a template for future business development projects?

Tim Stratton: It was the right approach for the problem. The amusement and the payment industries are both complex environments. They have differing technology challenges, regulations and regulators, organisations that make up their eco-systems, industry drivers, and constraints.

Game Payment Technology needed the technical knowledge, contacts, and operational experience that Polar Moment brought to the company. We immediately had access to their contacts at the FCA, the card schemes, and merchant acquirers. We were courted by tier 1 banks, keen to support this initiative.

Similarly, the support from Bacta and its members was essential. The members ensured the solution was developed to meet the specific needs of the amusement industry. They introduced GPT to the different technologies used in the machines, ranging from reel-based AWPs through to the latest digital machines.

The team at Brighton educated us on the variety of machines and requirements of the FEC sector. Several operators helped us develop our unique pool table solution. We are so thankful for their continued support.

Bacta’s position in the industry, particularly their relationships with the Gambling Commission and the DCMS, meant we were able to comply with the legal requirements of gambling regulation, and the spirit in which these requirements were set. Consequently, we have the best social responsibility and age verification provision in the sector.

Coinslot: In a rapidly developing market place, what’s GPT’s USP?

Tim Stratton: GPT has several USPs that differentiate us from our various competitors.

Game Payment is a solution that continues to be developed by the industry, for the industry. Organisations from across the industry continue to engage with us to shape and support our product development. What we develop is always relevant to the market need.

The solution is geared to the amusement sector. The players know they are using an app for amusement machines.

Our risk-based AML and KYC processes reflect the specific risks of the sector, allowing us to implement frictionless sign-up and an optimum player experience. Players don’t need to provide their driving licences, utility bills, and/or passports to withdraw their money. They do need to verify their age before playing an AWP. The app simply takes a selfie during registration and determines their age within seconds.

Our in-house development team continues to deliver innovation at pace. In 2021, we delivered two software- based solutions (including support for the GBG protocol) a generic solution for FECs, the pool table solution with its 3-year battery life, and customer specific apps, as implemented at Brighton Palace Pier.

The customer-specific app is another USP that is achieving traction in FECs. It allows them to use the data to understand their customers’ behaviour to drive marketing, including measuring the effectiveness of promotions. This is a brand-new opportunity for these companies.

Working with tier 1 banks and processors is welcomed by many of our customers, especially the retail pub chains. They can take comfort that transactions are processed by Visa and Barclaycard and all player and customer money is held in NatWest client accounts. Of course, our relationships within the payment industry are a strength. We are already working with one of the card schemes to deliver a unique offering for the FEC space; we will share more about this next year.

I could go on, but I’ll finish by reiterating that GPT is independent and available on the widest range of machines, AWP and non-AWP and this will continue to expand rapidly in 2022.

Coinslot: You’ve done ACOS, there will be EAG and ICE early in the new year. What kind of response are you getting from the industry?

Tim Stratton: It is a shame that both EAG and ICE have been postponed. At both events, attendees will be able to experience the Game Payment app being used to pay for fruit machines from half-a-dozen manufacturers, and other types of amusements, including an NSM Curve jukebox.

GPT will also be showcasing our latest enhancements. These include the ability to meter the cashless transactions separately from coins, and to automate the button-press on pool tables. GPT have designed this as a plug-and-play product, allowing engineers to install the solution in just a couple of minutes!

If ICE 2022 is rearranged, visitors will find the team in the Bingo Pavilion on stand BP5. Being part of the Bingo Pavilion allows us to strengthen relationships in this space, and we will see bingo halls fitted with GP-enabled fruit machines early in 2022.

The increasing availability of software- based Game Payment implementations from the major manufacturers is releasing a lot of pent-up demand from the industry. Operators and retailers like our solution, flexibility, and the quality of our support and will be rolling Game Payment out in increasing numbers early in the new year.

Coinslot: Looking at the product itself and the changing dynamics of payment solutions in terms of protections and regulations, how responsive is the app to market changes and developments?

Tim Stratton: Game Payment, through its JV partner, Polar Moment, does not just respond to the changing dynamics of the payment industry, it drives them.

We have worked with the FCA on the introduction of secure customer authentication and its implementation. Working across the payment industry, we can import innovations from other sectors into the Game Payment products.

Who would have thought there would be innovations from bottle return schemes that are relevant to the amusement space? We are working with the major card schemes today to design amusement solutions for 2022 and 2023.

We are ahead of the game preparing for the new protections and regulations expected in the coming years.

Coinslot: 2022 will be a landmark year for GPT. What are your plans for the coming 12 months?

Tim Stratton: 2022 is the year where we move from trials to mass adoption.

Our in-venue solutions, player and operator support, financial and settlement systems, and compliance and regulation approaches have been proven robust and effective. Operators and retailers understand the solutions and the value they bring. Rollouts are being planned.

GPT will become an option expected by players in venues throughout the UK.


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