President, Global Payments Gaming Solutions
But, just as evolving consumer expectations have driven other industries to embrace mobility and self-service, the gaming industry is now on the cusp of a similar transformation.
As a preeminent provider of digital commerce solutions for the world’s gaming entertainment leaders, Global Payments is at the forefront of this shift.
For more than 20 years, Global Payments Gaming Solutions has provided the hardware, software and strategic services needed to manage gaming operations and deliver rich consumer commerce experiences. But beyond supporting the status quo, the organization is striving to change the way casinos do business with their patrons by bringing them up to speed with broader consumer trends.
In 2017, when Christopher Justice took on the role of president of Global Payments Gaming Solutions, he did so with the goal of driving digital transformation across the gaming industry. He realized casinos had largely failed to keep up with consumer expectations around self-service and mobile technology and recognized the opportunity for Global Payments to develop a solution.
“When you think about any other industry — retail as an example — everything that goes into retail is completely integrated. There’s a system of things that are purpose-built to drive speed and efficiency for the organization, from supply chain through checkout,” Justice explained. “When you get into the casino space, while slot machines and other systems are highly technological, they’re largely bound together by manual processes.”
“Our ambition is to change how casinos do business and how consumers do business with the casino, helping to deliver that same speed, efficiency and security that consumers have conducting business anywhere else on the planet.”
Justice began by establishing an innovation group with the goal of exploring ways to provide consumers with more modern, streamlined gaming experiences. The group quickly realized that the traditional approach not only requires a significant amount of players’ time, but it also creates numerous opportunities for distraction.
“When you think about the typical consumer experience in casinos, you walk in and see the game you want to play. Now you need money. In order to get money, you now have a minimum of a 20-minute round trip to the casino cage, assuming you know where it is,” said Justice. “Then, after you’ve stood in line and made a face-to-face transaction, you walk all the way back to where you started, only to find that perhaps the game you wanted to play now has someone sitting there.”
Justice and his team wanted to develop a more convenient alternative that effectively delivered the casino cage or kiosk into users’ hands — enabling them to spend less time planning and more time playing.
After determining the product scope, the Global Payments team set to work developing a Proof of Concept (POC) for a comprehensive cashless gaming solution dubbed the VIP Mobility app.
Elsewhere in the organization, Insight had already been engaged to provide support for a reporting optimization initiative within the Global Payments merchant portal. Insight teammates had also previously helped to develop mobile apps for Global Payments’ sister companies. So, when it came time to transition the VIP Mobility app from POC to production, the innovation group knew it had a partner that could make the product a success.
Over the course of 18 months, the Global Payments and Insight teams worked together to make the vision of a mobile, self-service gaming experience a reality. Their collaborative efforts culminated in one of the first and arguably most innovative cashless gaming apps on the market — one that delivers speed, simplicity and security for users and casinos alike.
“From a consumer perspective, VIP Mobility is far and away the easiest [cashless gaming app] to use. It fits in complete alignment with consumers’ expectations as to how an app would work. Download it from an app store, put in your phone number, and you’re set up and ready to go,” Justice explained. “And from an operator perspective, our solution leverages the existing gaming voucher systems, which effectively means no change management.”
Unlike alternative mobile gaming solutions which rely on a wagering account system, by building on the casino voucher systems, VIP Mobility allows organizations to maintain existing processes, from balancing and reconciling accounts to handling customer disputes. This enables gaming institutions to rapidly adopt the technology and deliver transformative consumer experiences without causing operational disruption or requiring additional training for staff.
It also simplifies the experience for users, eliminating the lengthy enrollment process and complex funding transfers associated with wagering accounts while allowing players to use a single profile at any casino where the VIP system is available.
In addition to developing a superior user experience, the Insight and Global Payments teams placed a critical emphasis on security and compliance throughout the app development process.
“Every aspect of what we’ve done, working hand in hand with Insight, really uses the core of bank-grade security technology,” said Justice.
This included ensuring that funds remain completely visible and auditable as they move from the user account to the casino and vice versa. Wagering account solutions, by comparison, rely on outdated magnetic stripe cards and four-digit PINs, offering none of the standard protections associated with modern financial security.
With this revolutionary combination of efficiency, convenience and robust security, the Global Payments VIP Mobility app now offers casinos and their patrons a faster path to smarter gaming.
The VIP Mobility app initially launched in April of 2021 and has already been adopted by gaming institutions across California and Oklahoma, with numerous other states currently in the approval stages. Those organizations using the app have already seen significant results. While VIP Mobility users may not dramatically increase the amount they spend at casinos overall, they are more likely to direct more of their spending budget toward those institutions where the app is accepted.
“My expectation is, really within the next two years, the great majority of casino properties will have it installed or be in the installation process,” Justice predicted. “That’s because, as we look at delivering efficient payment technologies in other industries, what folks quickly find is if you’re not delivering this self-serve capability to your consumer, your consumer is going to vote with their feet and shop somewhere else.”
With the success of this initiative, the Global Payments and Insight partnership has also flourished.
“The value [of this partnership] has been terrific from the standpoint of collaboration. The people that we work with at Insight all wear the Global Payments jersey. I don’t see any us-versus-them mentality; we’re all rowing the boat in the same direction and trying to meet the same objectives.”
Moving forward, the Insight and Global Payments teams will continue to optimize and expand the capabilities of the VIP Mobility app to ensure it remains the gold standard for cashless gaming. Beyond the scope of this project, Global Payments has also enlisted Insight to help broaden their focus on mobile and self-service technology — using the VIP Mobility app as a blueprint to deliver innovative experiences to new markets.