Operators who embrace a robust and fully integrated cashless ecosystem have the power to transform the customer experience in an even broader way – both inside the casino and beyond, according to executives with Flexia.
Cashless shouldn’t be a conduit that interacts with the player for a limited period of time but instead should be a broad engagement with the customer, said Flexia CEO Craig Libson.
Flexia is a Las Vegas-based specialty fintech company with a unique omnichannel platform empowering a cashless solution for the gaming industry. Their multi-account Flexia App and cashless gaming card/Mastercard are integrated into casino management systems and other closed loop platforms, such as online wagering accounts.
Flexia President Scott Walker believes that what they’re doing is a game changer because today’s casino customer is different from those five years ago. Players are now betting on a sports app or engaging in igaming in addition to going to casinos, he said.
“Our product allows people to engage in all different environments and have one seamless way to fund all of those activities and thereafter switch money back to their wallet,” explained Walker. “The industry is transforming, and we’re not only helping that transformation, but accelerating it.”
Customers can move funds seamlessly among the accounts using Flexia’s mobile application. There is seamless player onboarding across different systems (land-based casino, sportsbook, online gaming, player loyalty) and simplified processes for security, funding, and liquidity. In addition, more customized player promotions and loyalty benefits for spending outside of the casino are offered.
“This industry has traditionally been slow to develop new technologies,” Walker said. “We have lagged behind many of the other industries in embracing electronic payments. There was a thought that customers would resist it because of unfamiliarity with how it would work. Many of the casino management systems and operator systems took a lot of work to migrate into the electronic payments world. There was even resistance five years ago when we started this, but in the last five years the demand for a truly cashless casino environment has accelerated tremendously.”
What is often overlooked is the vast and valuable data that the shift to cashless gaming provides to operators from the trail of information it generates on when, where and how customers spend, and even the proximity in time and distance from gaming activity, Walker said.
Now, these transactions are electronic and linked, he added.
“I felt the resistance for years about how people want to remain anonymous, but that has gone by the wayside and accelerated because of COVID,” Walker noted. “Everybody now uses various apps to engage with businesses and do what they want in the marketplace.”
Libson describes what’s in casinos today as a “patchwork of different systems” from a loyalty module for the player tracking system to a ticketing system to track how much money is on a TITO ticket. Casino management systems have even started getting involved with cashless wallets.
“The advantage to cashless gaming, if a platform is built properly and the casino looks at this holistically and not just at solving the cash side,” he said, “is that the cashless conversation can lead to a synchronous operation of all these platforms – from onboarding a customer, sharing data among them and the know-your-customer/AML compliance aspects. What exists today is often in multiple registration processes. When cashless is done properly, it should be one process shared between all the parties. Registrations in these disparate systems should be one click and not sending guests to separate desks.”
In Flexia’s cashless solution, the liquidity provided by the Mastercard account for spending outside of the casino ties into the loyalty account of the casino. There’s a relationship that drives the customer back in, Libson said.
“The cashless system will connect online gaming wallets and casino gaming wallets which can be used to purchase food and beverage and amenities on property,” he explained. “Cashless as we see it is driving the total overhaul of how the various systems in the casino work to make it easier for the customer, more compliant, more secure and provide a lot of marketing benefits.”
Walker said they asked themselves why the casino industry does not follow other industries such as airline companies where customers can spend money and gain loyalty points for their business.
“If a customer’s primary form of entertainment is to gamble on the weekend and they are spending money both inside and outside the casino, then they should have a casino card that has a program similar to an airline loyalty program,” he argued. “For spending outside the casino, they will be able to earn points for their favorite casino. The operator will also be able to see what their customers are interested in and what their buying habits are outside the casino and be able to tailor individual promotions to that person.”
According to Libson, most of their competitors are pre-existing business operations that happen to touch cash or financial transactions and are working from a legacy infrastructure.
“What we did is build a brand-new platform based on our experience in other Fintech platforms,” he said. “We didn’t build it for what we need today. We built it for what we envisioned the market to be acting like five years from now. We built a system that’s a hub of multiple open and closed loop systems. A closed-loop system could be a gaming account in the casino management system or wallet in an online gaming platform. It could be loyalty points, a Mastercard account or could be a cryptocurrency account managed by a third party. The whole system is built with the idea that every implementation is going to be a different iteration of the combination of these.”
Libson said there will be operators with multiple casinos under one brand or multiple casinos with different brands. They have loyalty programs with different tiers and benefits and various states have different regulatory environments.
“What we did was build a platform that could be totally flexible to deliver in each instance what is needed, depending on the operator’s makeup, needs and desires,” he said. “It’s tailored to them and branded with their branding. We don’t say here’s a widget and go plug it in to what you have and not worry that it doesn’t do everything that you want, and that it may be clunky. When we sit down with a casino, we’re not just sitting with their tech guys. We’re also collaborating with their marketing team because the tie-in with our Mastercard product to their casino loyalty program, including how customer spend ties into loyalty points and the features of our promotional tools, is always very exciting to the marketing people.”
Libson reiterated that they’re not just about moving the money. Flexia provides a web-based portal that the casino operators can log into and send customized promotions based on demographics, card spend, and casino activity. “In the simplest sense, the access to the data is money moving back and forth, but in the larger sense it’s compliance and marketing data,” he said. “That’s what cashless is all about, and that’s what we focused on.”