Sam Barrett speaks to Gambling Insider about taking on a new role in the gambling industry and the future of payments development
How are you settling in to your new role as Head of Gaming at Trustly?
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first few months at Trustly. We enable cross-border online banking payments and I’m quickly becoming acquainted with our European offices, travelling frequently between London, Stockholm and Malta. It’s an absolute pleasure to lead an already successful vertical while Trustly is continually adding new markets and growing day by day.
You’ve been in the gaming industry for over seven years, dating back to your days at Clarion Events. In your opinion how, has the industry changed in that time?
It’s been an interesting journey since my days managing ICE Totally Gaming and EiG. You only have to look at the products launched at those shows to see how far the industry has come.
We’ve seen lots of innovation in online and land-based gaming and, more recently, we’ve seen operators merging with other operators and suppliers being acquired by some of the biggest global brands. Desktop and mobile technology has advanced and, as a result, gaming has become more interactive with in-play betting and more accessible with smartphones. Plus, the change in regulation has paved a clearer path for operators to follow a particular market framework.
Looking specifically at payments being used within gaming, that too has evolved and Trustly has simplified the way players can deposit and collect their winnings.
You’ve also worked in payments in the foreign exchange (FX) industry. How do you see the two industries overlapping?
More and more FinTech businesses are popping up and bringing new innovations to the traditional banks that their customers are demanding. FinTech FX businesses are increasingly becoming the better choice for the gaming industry while it searches for quicker, cheaper and more convenient cross-border payments.
Does the gaming industry need to be innovative when it comes to payment methods?
Absolutely, yes. Call me biased, but to players, the way they pay is just as important as the games they play. Every player asks the same questions when paying online: is it safe, is it quick and is it convenient? Merchants share these same concerns.
As the industry has innovated, payment methods have had to keep up, although it can be challenging due to regulation and compliance. Gaming is a fast-paced vertical and when dealing with payments, it is important to keep transactions simple and speedy to keep conversion high. This can be quite tricky without innovation.
One of the main reasons I accepted the role at Trustly is because I’m deeply impressed by the innovation of the product. The banking coverage Trustly has achieved in such a short time shows how agile it operates, and having an instant pay-in and pay-out payment method across Europe is remarkable.
Will methods of payment ever be unrecognisable from how we know them today? If so, how long will this take?
This is a big topic in payments and there is no short answer. We have certainly seen a change in how payments are made and received. Over the past three years, our data shows a huge shift from desktop to mobile, from 7% in 2013 to almost 40% today — a trend that merchants must adapt to. Technology providers like Apple are flirting with biometric technology and NFC capability, however, cash and cards still very much exist.
Although it may look like new technology is replacing traditional methods of payment, it is still being run on the same banking rails. Kalixa recently gave me a watch that was connected to a pre paid MasterCard, which I could top up online. So while this wearable was paying for my lunch, it was still going through the traditional payment infrastructure.
At Trustly, we see the bank account as the hub of people’s financial lives; 93% of Europeans already have, trust and regularly use their bank account, and I don’t imagine that will change in the foreseeable future.
Fraud has historically been a major issue for the gaming industry. Should we be less concerned about it now?
Fraudsters always seem to be one step ahead of security. Today, the market has many fraud monitoring tools available, but as technology evolves, so do fraudsters. Security and fraud seem to be an ongoing innovation in themselves and as we continue to tap into new markets and add new products, the industry has to think about these things.
Trustly processes more than 1.7 million payments per month and has never had a case where a user’s login details for data have been compromised. Online banking payments is one of the safest payment methods due to low chargeback risk and very strong two-factor authentication.
Sam Barrett started his gaming career over seven years ago at Clarion Events, where within three years he became head of sales and was managing the biggest gaming show in the industry. He has since held management roles at payments businesses including ClickandBuy, Skrill (Paysafe Group) and, most recently, FX brokerage World First