MCA Processing is making gaming industry inroads with its ATM/Ticket redemption kiosks and software designed to deliver the accuracy, security and reliability of financial institution ATMs to the casino floor.
The Las Vegas-based company is owned by Robert Cucinotta and Karim Maskatiya, the co-founders of Global Cash Access, the largest ATM service provider to the gaming industry. “They felt they could do a better job in the ticket redemption business than is currently being done,” said David Balmer, executive vice president for MCA Processing who previously worked in an executive-level capacity for one of MCA’s largest competitors, before leaving to help start the new company.
“What we provide today is kiosk hardware and software for the purposes of ticket redemption, bill breaking and automated cash services. We also offer jackpot redemption, points redemption and other related software and services. The thing that we’ve done differently is we’ve approached it from more of a financial institution point of view, whereas our competitors have attempted to create custom software to process transactions,”
Proven softwareMCA Processing uses proven industry standardized banking software to drive the machines. “The utilization of this tried and true software allows us the highest degree of uptime in casinos throughout the industry,” Balmer said.
The company offers two product solutions – a software line and a hardware line called the MCA Multifunction Redemption Kiosk. MCA Processing will sell or lease the hardware and then will license software for multiyear terms.
“Along with licensing the software and selling the hardware, we also provide a support service package. We consistently meet or exceed our customers’ expectations regarding service level uptime,” he said, noting the MCA machines currently in the field operate at an extremely high uptime rate. MCA monitors these machines in real time in order to ensure uptime commitments.
MCA software can accommodate new or existing hardware, provided it is of a certain type, such as NCR or the Wincor Nixdorf machines, which MCA also uses. “We have competitors that have provided essentially the same equipment we do, and we’ve written software to convert those machines to our platform.”
For instance, Balmer noted, the company has been working with several major gaming operators to provide software to use in their existing ATM/Ticket redemption machines and have sold the gaming operators additional machines. That’s attractive to gaming operators, he said, “particularly in a capital-constricted environment.”
Balmer noted the company won’t write software for non-standard machines in most cases. “Every application takes gaming approval, so we’re very selective as to what hardware platforms we’re going to use,” he said. “It’s important to utilize a robust, proven platform when performing the volume of transactions we do.”
Robust reliabilityMCA Processing has high hopes and expectations for the product’s success.
“In a nutshell, what [gaming operators] are getting is a more reliable product, from a hardware/software standpoint, as well as overall better service,” he said.
“We’re managing these machines the same way banks manage their ATM fleets,” Balmer noted. “In most jurisdictions we have a live connection to the machine, and, because we’re using standard ATM software, it’s constantly sending status messages. If one of our properties has a hardware or software issue, we typically know it before they do and we can automatically generate a service ticket and dispatch a technician based on that issue.”
This automated process dramatically reduces the time with which it takes to respond to service issues and eliminates the need for casino personnel to spend valuable time placing helpdesk calls.
That’s extremely important to casino operators, he said, because maintaining uptime and reducing operating expenses associated with these high-volume devices is a top priority. “We also provide our casino customers with several automated tools alerting them to minor issues, which they can respond to themselves such as paper jams and cash status message,” Balmer said.
On a mission“We consider, and most importantly our customers consider, their ATM/Ticket redemption machines to be what they call ‘mission-critical’ systems,” Balmer said.
A high percentage of the cash spent in the casino is processed through these machines, “whether it’s through ATM or credit card cash advance,” he said.
“Nobody comes to Vegas with a wad of cash. People come to Vegas with a little bit of cash, their debit card and a couple of credit cards,” Balmer said.
If the machines go down, that creates issues for the casino, he said. “If customers can’t redeem their tickets there, they’re forced to redeem them at the cage, potentially causing a customer service nightmare, so reliability. service and uptime are some of the biggest keys to what we do.”
That need is the reason that the market opened up for MCA Processing, Balmer said.
The young company already has more than 100 machines installed in high profile/high volume locations and is in the process of installing several hundred more, Balmer said.
As casinos look to replace redemption machines, Balmer expects to pick up market share.
“I’m predicting sometime by the end of ’09, we’ll be one of the largest redemption kiosk providers in our space,” he said.
MCA also is open to providing its services and products overseas, Balmer said. “We’re trying to bring value to wherever our customers are. Anywhere our customers go, we’re willing to be there as well.”
Balmer noted the company also is working on other products for the industry, including an employee banking kiosk that would allow employees with a till to use a machine to receive their bank and later to deposit their bank.
Looking down the roadFor the future, he noted, the industry is looking toward cashless solutions. “The ultimate goal in our end of the business is cashless. You get to the point where you’re producing a ticket instead of cash or you’re producing a stored value card, instead of dispensing cash.”
That, he said, brings real value to the casino. There’s a cost to the casino to load cash into multiple machines at each property, he said, noting each machine can carry about $275,000.
“It’s a lot of money that’s not in the bank, so the more efficient you can be with that cash or the more options you can offer to the customer instead of cash the better,” he said.
Gaining customer acceptance will take creativity, he said. “You have to work with the casino to kind of incent the customer to push in the direction you want, maybe give a break on the ATM fee or produce a promotional coupon.”
“There are all kind of things we can do, but, remember, to develop these ideas you have to work very closely with the customer to make sure this is the direction they want to go because it’s a very costly thing to get it approved,” Balmer noted. “You bring these ideas to your customer and you really let them lead you in the direction they want to go.”
“The bottom line,” Balmer said, “is our turn-key solution for ticket redemption and ATM needs brings banking automation standards to the casino industry. That translates to unsurpassed accuracy, security, reliability and stability not previously enjoyed by our competitors.”