As the US sports betting and gaming market has opened in the wake of the repeal of PASPA, the user experience has taken on even greater importance as operators look to ensure maximum engagement with a growing base of sports betting fans. 

The payment journey inevitably plays a key role in this experience, with firms eyeing tech and innovations that accelerate transactions and optimise security as much as possible. 

With a strong footprint in the US, few understand the payment market as deeply as PayNearMe and the firm’s Chief Revenue Officer, Mike Kaplan, is unequivocal in his anticipation that the group’s newest offering can evolve the landscape further still.

Providing a brief background on the company, Kaplan outlined: “We are a payment service provider that has been working in the market for over 11 years. We currently process billions of dollars annually and have around 5,000 merchants leveraging our platform. 

“The thing that we have been most known for is the ability to accept cash payment at retail so that kind of was our flagship program when we launched, you know 11 years ago and that’s 27,000 retail locations throughout the US, where somebody could walk in and hand over cash and then have that cash deposited or applied to a bill, or you know, put in their gaming wallet or what have you. 

“We have since expanded the platform to include credit, debit, ACH, Apple Pay, Google Pay you know really kind of a full payment service provider providing all of the latest payment methods and channels to service the verticals we’re in.” 

“One of the elements that we have become best known for is the ability to accept cash payment at retail – that was our flagship as we launched. 

“We’ve built a strong footprint in the gaming market, having entered the space just over eight years ago. Part of our original expansion into the market came via mobile gaming in New Jersey and Nevada respectively back in 2013 and 2014.”

As a relatively well-established incumbent of the nascent US market, PayNearMe is in a stronger position than most to share insight on how operators in the space are approaching gambling payments. 

“It’s fascinating to see the market grow,” he stated. “We were in the market incredibly early and alongside a couple of other key players. We are part of the original successful launch of mobile gaming in the United States. It did hit a little bit of a lull period as regulation had to pass, but that’s part of the process – these things take time. 

“Nonetheless, since the Supreme Court ruling on PASPA a few years back the rate of acceleration has just been incredible. It has accelerated at a rapid rate and states have really embraced sports betting.

“It’s just really accelerated. That along with, I think, the current environment with COVID, believe it or not, have also accelerated some of that. Where I think states are hungry for tax revenue, frankly, and are really coming around to the idea that gaming is a really solid business that can benefit their states and their constituents.”

As the market expands and an increasing number of states open, PayNearMe has broadened its offering with the launch of a new platform, which further serves the US mobile betting market by providing more deposit choice and faster payout methods. 

Detailing what the new platform offers, Kaplan emphasised: “We’ve been offering electronic payments in a number of vertical markets and we’ve expanded with lots of different functionalities to our ‘cash at retail product’.

“We’ve made a dramatic impact on payments in the markets we’ve entered.

“Now we’re bringing that entire platform – cards, ACH, Apple Pay and Google Pay in addition to cash – all into the gaming market and combining that with our smart link technology, which we believe will have a monumental impact on player conversion. 

“Our Smart Link technology allows for customized URLs to be delivered to players that drops them directly into a deposit for it.  And so, if you’re an operator that wants to encourage a player to deposit or wants to offer them a match bonus or something of that nature, we’re providing a customised URL that the player can click on and drop them right into their deposit method of choice to complete that deposit quickly, and then we can feedback the information back to the operator.  

“They can apply any bonus match very easily and simply really just help to increase conversion and retention and frankly acquisition of new players in the market.

“We truly believe that having an expansive range of payment methods for the platform is vital as operators look to reach the widest demographic possible, Google Pay and Apple Pay are very much integral to this strategy and maximizing this reach. 

“Amongst a Gen-Z and Millennial audience we know that alternative methods of payment are of the utmost importance. This has proven; therefore, we have ensured that our new platform caters to them and serves that desire in the best way possible.

“As well as this, what we’re doing with our engagement engine and our smart link technology are significant – with customized URLs to be delivered to players via email or text message that drop them directly into a deposit.”

Kaplan was keen to note that the use of customised URLs enables a more efficient and smoother transactional journey, whilst also elevating KYC and AML procedures. He added that this innovative tech can be married with a personalised approach allowing for bonuses and sign up offers, something that is inevitably pivotal for US operators as they seek to take hold of the marketplace. 

Furthermore, when it comes to the withdrawal process – something that is a regular pain point for operators – the ability to pay out funds directly to a debit card can significantly speed this up and subsequently enhance the user experience for punters. 

“The simplification of customer withdrawals is key. We know this is a pain point for operators and punters, so our innovative tech improving this part of the journey will undoubtedly have a major impact on customer retention.”

On the relationship between payment tech and sports betting and why he thinks it will continue to prosper, Kaplan added: “I think it’s vitally important. I believe that a positive payment journey can be a differentiating factor for operators as they increase their consumer base.”

The digital approach takes on even greater importance as it becomes more prevalently adopted following the coronavirus pandemic, with Kaplan admitting that the growth of contactless payments is something he has not solely noticed in gaming but has been monumental on a global scale. 

PayNearMe will be present and speaking at the upcoming SBC Digital Payments event, which will include great peer-to-peer connectivity as well as a virtual exhibition and a virtual networking bar. To register for the event and learn more about the speaker line-up and agenda, please visit the  SBC Digital Payments Website.