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Greg Kirstein, Paysafe: payments are a crucial part of the acquisition funnel

During last month’s Canadian Gaming Summit, CasinoBeats caught-up with Greg Kirstein, VP of Business Development for North America iGaming at Paysafe, to get the lowdown on the group’s recent moves and future ambitions across the North American region.

Ahead of his participation at next week’s SBC Summit North America, Kirstein offers a sneak preview of what attendees can expect, as well as elaborating on the critical nature of payments when it comes to acquisition and retention.

Question: On a panel at the recent Canadian Gaming Summit, Andrew Crowe of Sightline stated that “payments are always often the last thing people think about”. Would you agree with this statement? And what needs to change to ensure that payments are at the forefront of operators’ minds?

Greg Kirstein: I’d broadly agree that North American operators have tended to prioritise other factors over payments, such as licensing, platform technology, KYC, and geolocation.

That said, not every operator is the same – many have experience working across multiple global markets and understand the critical role payments play in player acquisition and retention.

Newer operators can be so focused on going live that payments tend to be an afterthought. If a new igaming brand pays to acquire a customer and they only offer a single payment method that doesn’t meet expectations, the customer can be lost.

Overall, it’s experience that makes operators appreciate the value of payments for conversion rates, as well as the nuances related to compliance, merchant category codes, or getting a merchant account to process credit cards.

With newer operators, we share our experience on how payments support their growth, though the marketplace speaks for itself. All the best-performing operators by market share have robust cashiers with a smooth payments experience.

With the competition in the market, an operator needs to stand out. A seamless and intuitive payment experience, where players’ preferred payment methods are saved, becomes a

competitive differentiation for a brand – and operators are increasingly realizing this.

Question: How critical a tool can payments be when it comes to the crucial realms of acquisition of retention?

GK: Payments are a crucial part of the acquisition funnel. With the diversity of North Americans’ payment preferences, an operator’s cashier needs to be flexible enough to meet every customer expectation – from cards to alternative payment methods like digital wallets and ecash.

US sports bettors actually prioritise frictionless payments, and pay-outs in particular, over all other factors when choosing a sportsbook, including odds, sports markets, and bonuses, according to our 2021 research.

Operators need to make sure a player can easily deposit with their favourite payment method, and seamlessly repeat a deposit plus cash out. Friction in the payments experience can significantly impact retention, with 79 per cent of US players we surveyed left with a negative impression of a sportsbook if cashing out takes longer than expected.

Question: What opportunities does the Canadian market present for Paysafe? What major differences have you witnessed, or do you expect, when contrasted to the US?

GK: Since 2010, we’ve been supporting the regulated Canadian market with payments through our partnerships with the major provincial lotteries. Ontario’s launch of a private market marks a major opportunity to expand our long-standing role helping operators grow through our payment solutions.

We have a deep understanding of Canadian players’ payment preferences. As in the US, credit cards are king, though there are local differences like the popularity of Interac, the Canadian interbank network that ties the banking system together, allowing players to fund wagers and receive pay-outs through their debit card.

Ontario’s major difference is that the card decline issue US operators faced has largely been resolved. It took six or seven years for American brands’ card approval rates to reach the levels we had for Ontario’s launch.

This has meant there’s been less pressure on operators to launch with nine or 10 payment methods, so they can really focus on how Ontarians prefer to pay and the overall payment experience.

The Ontarian market will mature to attract different customer types – and operators will need to evolve their cashiers to convert these new players. As in the US, Canadian operators will have to constantly adapt to consumers’ changing payment preferences, as new payments technology is brought to market.

Question: You are set to speak at next month’s SBC Summit North America on a panel entitled ‘consumer first payments – the journey to a true e-commerce experience’. What can we expect?

GK: You can expect a wide-ranging discussion from subject matter experts at payment companies and operators like Caesars Entertainment, with reference to our own data and experience in multiple US and Canadian markets.

As the US sports-betting space expands and matures into mainstream entertainment alongside the new Canadian igaming market, there’s never been a more important time to discuss players’ payments journey – how we got here, and where we go next.

At next week’s SBC Summit North America, Kirstein will participate on the aforementioned panel alongside Christopher Granger, Lottery and Gaming Lead at Visa; Trent Striplin, VP of Payments and Fraud at Caesars Digital; John Parsons, VP of Gaming at Trustly; and Warren Tristram, SVP of Sales and Head of Gaming, Lottery and eSports at Nuvei, with Sue Page, General Manager of Neosurf, on moderating duty.


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