G2E: Koin seeks to reduce friction in payment transactions

October 11, 2023 6:36 PM
Photo: CDC Gaming Reports
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports
October 11, 2023 6:36 PM
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports
  • United States

At G2E 2021, cashless payments was the topic of the moment, with new companies emerging and vying for attention and market share.

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Koin President Gary Larkin remembers the excitement surrounding cashless, even if few people at the time truly understood its ramifications.

“Conversations were in a vacuum, in a void,” Larkin said Tuesday at Koin and Marker Trax’s shared booth at the Global Gaming Expo. “Nobody understood what it was going to do. Nobody had any experience in doing it within the industry. Nobody knew the obstacles. Worst of all, the operators had no idea why they should want it.”

Two years later, cashless is coming into focus. Koin is a standalone financial wallet platform affiliated with Marker Trax, a casino advance-line system that reduces the risk of issuing markers to patrons.

One of Larkin’s goals with Koin is to reduce the friction in cashless payments that is “inherent due to the nature of the underlying technology.

“Casinos haven’t changed their underlying technologies for decades,” he said. “They were never designed to interact with the outside world. In fact, they were designed not to and this terminal uniqueness of every CMS and every hardware manufacturer built up these barriers. You need to simplify. You’ve got to take that friction out, at least at least the player. Even if the abrasion exists, it’s going to be managed by us and the operator.”

To reduce friction, Koin’s mobile wallet was built with an underlying infrastructure designed to facilitate cashless experiences. Larkin likes to think that Koin has achieved an experience for players that will be continuously refined through new iterations to normalize “all the disparate hardware that exists within the gaming industry,” he says.

Koin was born through Larkin’s collaboration with Marker Trax founder and CEO Gary Ellis and Charlie Skinner, the company’s president.

“We knew that in order for digital payments to succeed, whether it’s pay as you go or play now pay later, they needed to be tightly integrated, natively integrated,” Larkin says. “You didn’t want to be having to step out. Think of it more like an overdraft on your payment system for gaming. That’s really where Marker Trax and Koin excel, because a supplier, in one downloadable app, one very smooth seamless rapid onboarding, has access to a pay and play as well as play now and pay later.”

There’s also the idea that a generation that has never used cash will shun places that don’t accept payments via smart phones. But Larkin believes that society as a whole is ready to commit to what he prefers to call contactless payments.

“People want that that efficiency and once they’ve adopted it, they don’t want to go back,” he says. “Casinos today are set up in contradiction to where payments are historically moving, not just in the U.S., but globally. And we have to make that a seamless Apple-like experience. If you have to think about how you’ve paid differently when you walk into a casino, it’s an abrasion.

“But if you give them a way to carry with them the capacity to spin in and out of the property, you’ve given them a lifestyle change that I think is persistent, creates velocity, and that’s what a payment system needs.”