Exclusive interview.- Innovative Technology’s Sales & Marketing Director, Marcus Tiedt, talks to Focus Gaming News about the company’s operations in 2020 and beyond.
The pandemic had a big impact on the gaming industry and the ITL exec discusses how it has hit on its own business. While the company continues to adapt its worldwide business, it had to surf this year’s first wave & explains how it is tackling the second while still thriving in this exclusive interview with Focus Gaming News.
How has 2020 been for ITL?
Like most businesses, 2020 has been an unprecedented year for ITL, regrettably shaped by COVID.
The pandemic has affected countless organisations, but many have shown amazing resilience and have adapted their business strategy to ensure they continue to survive and come out of this positively.
Cash validation manufacturing slowed down when the first lockdown began with many of our customers being forced to close their businesses temporarily. Therefore, we adapted our strategy and for a short time turned our production line in the UK into supplying PPE to assist local hospitals and other organisations requiring much needed personal protection equipment. Gaming and amusement have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, as well as other sectors in the hospitality industry that we serve.
As we move into the second lockdown in the UK and in many European countries, unfortunately, we have more difficult months ahead but we are working hard with our customers to help them prepare for the new way of doing business going forward and we will get through this together.
You’ve taken several measures to tackle Covid-19’s impact and adapt your operations, and you’ve also just announced a new deal to distribute your hygienic cash handling kit, is the second wave still a concern for ITL?
Unfortunately, we are already in the second wave of the pandemic across many counties in the world, so we are planning for another challenging 6 months ahead. We created CashGenic – the hygienic cash automation kit – during the first lockdown (when coins and banknotes were being unjustly portrayed as high risk in terms of transmission) to enable customers to pay with cash both safely and hygienically. Since then we have secured several distribution suppliers globally.
“We are working hard with our customers to help them prepare for the new way of doing business.”Marcus Tiedt, Sales & Marketing Director, Innovative Technology
The COVID crisis highlighted the need for businesses to accept cash while maintaining social distancing. Paying by cash carries no fee so remains a popular choice of payment despite the current uncertainty and the use of cash and cash in circulation is still on the increase. Using CashGenic gives customers payment choice by allowing those who still want to make cash payments to do so safely whilst eliminating the need for staff to handle cash. In addition, staff no longer need to count cash as the machine automatically does this, therefore saving time and generating greater efficiencies for the business. It also helps eliminate shrinkage and accounting errors as cash handling is automated.
ITL has recently appointed Lauren Fabbri as Business Development Manager in the US, is such a move part of a larger strategy in that market? What are your expectations for your operations in the US in the near future?
Potential growth in the US in Gaming, Vending, Retail and Kiosk sectors is enormous, so Lauren’s appointment has come at an important time to help us exploit these possibilities. Lauren is a great addition for the region with her solid background in sales plus the wealth of contacts in the industry she brings with her. We have already seen significant growth the US over the years and Lauren will expand on this by establishing new customers and key partners in The States to ensure further growth over the next few years.
“The retail and kiosk sectors are going to be a key growth area for us over the coming years.”Marcus Tiedt, Sales & Marketing Director, Innovative Technology
Which other markets do you consider the most relevant for ITL and where would you like to expand?
As well as the US, we see massive potential for growth in Southeast Asia. We have recently expanded our CBA9 bill acceptor accessibility throughout the vast Southeast Asia region. CBA9 is designed to simplify cash handling for OEM’s that export throughout the region. Already dominating the vending industry in China, the market-leading, field-proven banknote validator is now available in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam.
In addition, the retail and kiosk sectors are going to be a key growth area for us over the coming years as well as continued expansion in our well-established gaming, amusement and vending markets. Despite the devasting effects of COVID 19 we have not stopped product development at ITL, and we look forward to announcing some new, exciting products in 2021 some specifically aimed at the retail market. With these new developments, along with our existing new products, we hope to expand our presence and exploit new markets worldwide.
The company have announced further developments to its ICU Intelligent Identification device such as face covering detection and an API version. How high is the demand for such solutions?
ICU is our intelligent age check hardware device which is ideal for all retail applications where age restricted goods are being sold, as well as ensuring gaming operators prevent underage gambling in casinos and amusement venues. During the pandemic we updated it to detect face coverings so that entry can rejected if not worn, supporting staff, and ensuring customers are kept safe. All this happens without the need to go online. The device can also be enabled to perform face recognition and be used for loyalty and VIP schemes to identify key customers to improve engagement for both retail and gaming applications. In that way, ICU can also be utilised to restrict access to sensitive machine parts, such as payment systems or cashboxes. It transforms a simple USB camera into a complete solution to verify authorised users/entry; automate restricted access or allow contactless handsfree entry and is easy to integrate and simple to use.
Back in July we released a software only alternative to our ICU Intelligent Identification device. This ICU API enables your website to perform age estimation and / or facial recognition. It uses customers’ existing software and device cameras to communicate with the ICU algorithm to intelligently identify users’ faces and predict age. It can be used for online gaming websites or any other website that that could benefit from quickly identifying and verifying registered users and check their age. Implementing self-exclusion schemes and systems to prevent and control underage gambling is vital for online gaming websites to encourage responsible gambling and should be key to any organisation’s corporate social responsibility strategy.
So, we definitely can identify an increasing demand over several application cases whilst we also believe that we just scratched the surface of the possibilities a customer application may offer with this technology.
As 2020 is coming to an end, what are your expectations and goals for 2021?
We plan to launch some new products to the market in 2021 and hopefully enter some new vertical sectors and regions. We are however aware that this pandemic is not going away anytime soon therefore we need to closely watch the market and continually adapt to the needs and demands of our existing and future customers.