Focus on Koin: How to encourage player adoption of digital wallets

March 15, 2024 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
March 15, 2024 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
  • United States

Players won’t widely embrace digital casino wallets until they’re convinced the benefits are worth the effort, Mark Morton says.

Harkening back to the initial reluctance to give up coin buckets for slot machines with bill validators and TITO payouts, he said the switch to cashless requires a fundamental change in people’s behavior.

“You’ve got to incentivize them – either through rewards, convenience or ease of operation – to get them to change their behavior,” said Morton, who worked three decades with slot manufacturers Aristocrat and Konami before becoming senior vice president of sales for Koin.

“We don’t view (cashless) purely as an opportunity to deliver funds to the gaming floor, but also to venues at the casino that traditionally haven’t been touched” as well as to businesses outside a casino, he added. The ability for one digital wallet to pay for a slot session, a meal at a casino restaurant, and a purchase at a big-box retailer broadens its appeal to customers while also providing operators a new source of data about players’ spending habits.

Koin, developed in 2021, offers a digital casino wallet that enables users to access their funds anywhere at any time while lowering operators’ processing charges and integrating cage, table game and retail management systems. The digital wallet allows players to pay with a virtual or physical credit card and to fund their wallet through bank transfers, a debit/credit card, a retailer, direct deposit, or another mobile wallet.

“There’s a lifestyle associated with a casino. It’s a place where a player likes to spend money,” Morton said. The key to widespread adoption and use of a casino digital wallet, he continued, is understanding how else customers spend their money outside the casino. “Is their focus on golf or sporting events? Are they travelers? Do they like to work around their house? Koin gives operators the opportunity to fully understand how a player spends their disposable income.”

Players can use their Koin debit/credit card at virtually any business, so that data becomes available to casino operators. The Koin wallet processes both closed-loop and open-loop transactions. Open-loop refers to traditional debit or credit payments accepted everywhere, using major networks such as Visa or MasterCard; closed-loop refers to in-house transactions, such as moving money between the wallet and the casino, whether at a slot machine, the hotel desk, or a resort restaurant. Operators pay far lower processing fees for closed-loop transactions than for open-loop. Digital payments also reduce the amount of physical cash needed at a casino and streamline the payment process, reducing lines at the cage and kiosks.

“Although we think we’ve got the best digital payment solution today, we are in no way satisfied with what we have,” Morton said. “We think it’s just on the forefront of what we’re going to eventually deliver to our casino partners and their players.”

The “biggest piece of the puzzle” is understanding how to make digital payments as popular in a casino as they already are in other types of businesses, he said. One reason casino customers have lagged in adopting digital payments is the ease of getting cash through gaming floor ATMs, the cage, or credit card advances.

“The expectation that somebody is going to change a behavior purely by a new innovation or technology is limited,” Morton said. “Convenience is paramount. If it isn’t convenient, seamless, and cost-effective, it’s going to be difficult for that player to adopt.” Koin’s focus on the entire “payments ecosystem” allows the company to partner with operators on how to incentivize adoption. “From the way people behave outside of the gaming landscape, we know how people spend and the ease of how they use cashless.” With that data, Koin is “future-proofing” casino operators with data on how players spend their money and use cashless.

“We don’t want to follow trends; we want to set them,” Morton said. “Our team is always looking at new ways to redefine the gaming and entertainment landscape and experience.”