Day two of the SBC Digital Summit North America this week saw a panel of industry experts focus attention on innovations in payment options in the online and land-based verticals and the challenges that might rise in COVID-19 times.

In the panel titled ‘Assessing the Payments Infrastructure’, Behman Dayanim, Partner at Paul Hastings LLC, Mandi Hart, SVP of Client Success at Sightline, and Rick Arpin, Managing Partner at KPMG Las Vegas, analyzed the status of payments within different gaming verticals, under the moderation of Jonathan Michaels, VP, Strategic Alliances, at the American Gaming Association (AGA).

AGA’s research shows that 41% of respondents in a recent study listed safety, security or privacy as barriers to using digital wallets and payment options. Behman agreed and said that “this is a front burner issue for the industry” and that there are two different ways to look at it, from the consumer or the regulator perspective: “The consumer is focused on privacy and security,” he advised. “There are a number of regimes already in place that are designed to address those goals.”

“There’s a variety of regulatory structures that are already there, and I think that consumers have gotten comfortable with them because they utilize electronic forms of payment and a variety of settings. It’s a matter of a mental shift so that they start thinking about gaming in the same way. Ironically, gaming consumers in many cases already provide casinos with an enormous amount of personal information. So, really, the shift from cash to electronic forms of payments materially won’t make any difference.”

Behman added that from a regulatory perspective, there is a lot of focus on issues of privacy and security, but also on issues like data sharing. “With whom will that data be shared? Aside from the casino operator, will the payment provider have the right to use the data in any way? That’s a question that comes up at times, as well as identity verification and money laundering.”

“In electronic payment settings, they’re more easily addressed because, as they’re new to gaming regulators, sometimes they require some explanation and description so that they can get comfortable. These payments methods are in fact designed to prevent these kinds of abuses,” he added.

Michaels highlighted the digital transformation taking place with payments and how it fits into an omnichannel gaming environment. Recently, Nevada opened the door to update the state’s casino regulations and allow cashless betting.

In that regard, Hart assured that the regulation is “well timed with COVID and with the increased need for contactless payments”. However, she said that there are some areas that need to remain focused on, such as how to be able to move that cashless environment from something people use everyday.

“Consumers still see that environment differently, we have to educate people on these services and their capabilities.But also what’s important about it is making them comfortable. That’s the whole premise behind security elements, privacy elements, and all of the concerns for potential barriers that may come with them, and [it’s important] to work through those.”

She added: “[It’s about] making sure that customers feel protected, safe and comfortable with these types of transactions and making it a seamless and an easy experience that it’s not too hard to follow, but making them realize that they are living up to the same standards as any other payment process that they may experience.”

Transitioning from traditional methods of payments to the digital side and making that process as frictionless as possible is one of the biggest challenges that operators face. In that sense, Arpin argued that when facing complex problems, sometimes there is an inertia to feel overwhelmed and do nothing. “But I feel like we’re at the precipice finally,” he commented.

SBC Digital Summit North America will conclude today. But with plenty of activity and some big names lined up to speak, there is still time to register or obtain more information via the event’s official website.