IDT Corporation: convenience stores open up new potential for sports betting bonanza

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Never underestimate the power of the convenience store when it comes to reaching a consumer demographic that is multicultural, cash-focused and ripe for engagement with the ever-growing US sports betting sector.  

When it comes to identifying new retail verticals for the sports betting sector, you would be forgiven for thinking that the industry has got it covered. But here’s a POS product developed by NRS Digital Media, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based firm IDT Corporation, which offers an incredibly neat solution for operators looking to open up the potential of thousands of smaller retail environments across the US.

Talking more about the product and the company responsible for its development was Eli Korn, COO of NRS Digital Media and Billy Scheiner, Senior Director, IDT Corporation. For those of our readers who are less familiar with the company, Korn explained its origins and where NRS Digital Media fits into the picture.

“IDT is a large public company that has sold telecom and money transfer products in small independent convenience stores in the USA for decades,” he explained. “The National Retail Solutions (NRS) Division of IDT was created seven years ago to install much needed robust point-of-sale (POS) systems in these stores. NRS also attached large customer facing screens at eye-level that serve ads all day long to our customers during the transaction and as they walk up to pay.”

Turning to the POS product itself, Korn outlined how it currently works within the retail environment, the numbers in operation and what it’s actually capable of delivering for small retail outlets.

He noted: “We will have close to 25,000 POS systems by the end of the year. Making it the largest in store network in the independent stores. The system essentially runs the entire store for these small merchants. It can process credit card payments, track inventory, Loyalty program and much more. It has really transformed these independents from taking cash-only in shoe boxes and allows them to compete with the convenience chains.”

The big question for the sports betting sector is how the POS system will function as a tool for engaging and servicing sports bettors. Also, exactly how will it work in practice?

“One of the most successful parts of our business has been advertising on the screens,” Scheiner responded. “We have experienced tremendous growth with well over 100% YOY revenue increases. In 2021, we saw a huge amount of ads coming in from sports betting apps through our digital partners. 

“We then realized that the combination of our screens along with the ability of our merchants to take in cash to upload money to sports betting accounts was really quite a unique proposition.” 

According to Korn there is a huge segment of the population that for many reasons, he said, prefer to transact in cash. “We believe that the combination will be a bonanza for our sports betting clients. Imagine having real time odds on the screen and effectively giving the opportunity for players to make cash bets instantaneously. A large portion of our clientele in these stores are unbanked making them a prime demographic for cash deposits in store.”

What will be interesting is the potential market size for a concept like this in terms of the number of units NRS can realistically push into the marketplace. Scheiner believes that NRS can deliver more than 50,000 screens in the US in a few years. “It will be the largest network of it’s kind and will truly be impactful for advertisers in many categories to significantly lift their businesses,” he remarked. 

“We also know that the sports betting map will cover most of the country in that timeframe. We know that our screens/cash-in-take concept will be a huge beneficiary of these circumstances.”

We asked Korn what he would say to betting providers who haven’t yet seen the product in order to convince them of its potential to grow their business. “Sports Betting Apps are looking for unique ways to differentiate themselves from others,” he answered. “We are looking for these ‘out of the box’ thinkers to speak with us about partnering. We are already in discussions with potential partners but would like to make this opportunity available for any and all groups.” 

Sticking to that theme, Korn also expressed possible interest in engaging – where it makes sense to do so – in some M&A activity. “Perhaps there is a smaller sports betting app provider that is focused on the multicultural demographic in our stores and we could work with them on more than just a straight up commercial deal,” he said.

In conclusion, Korn ventured that the sports betting world is prime for huge growth, saying: “We believe that over the next couple of years the market will be several times what it is today. There will be a limited number of ‘winners’ who will take up the majority of the market share. 

“It’s all about speed to customer acquisition. The companies that acquire customers in the short term will be the ones who can sustain a profitable business in the long term. After all, the house always wins. And on that note, I am looking forward to meeting up with potential new trading partners at SBC Summit North America this summer.