Hi Diallo, welcome to our Fintech interview Series. Please tell us about your journey so far.
I took a circuitous path to Fintech in the hospitality industry, across both loyalty and payments, by starting my career in the United States Military and transitioning to the civilian public sector working for various government agencies to include the United States Department of Defense and Federal Aviation Administration.
My first role in hospitality came as a state regulator where I was responsible for evaluating resort systems, game math models and resort automation associated equipment.
Having a front row seat to the cutting-edge technology used in our defense and flight safety programs, I became uncomfortable with the notion that regulatory bodies within the hospitality industry were an impediment to resort innovation. I transitioned to the private sector because I felt I could make a difference in bridging those gaps.
I started in the hospitality industry with Aristocrat Technologies and later with Everi Payments. I went off and founded my own company which was sold to Passport Technology, Inc. and look after innovation, products and marketing as the company’s CPO and CMO.
How does your company’s product portfolio look like? How is it benefitting your clients?
Passport Technology has a robust product portfolio that fits into three buckets: (1) Payment and Loyalty Solutions, (2) Payment and Loyalty Kiosks and (3) Resort Operations. The juxtaposition of payments and loyalty is a strategic advantage across our portfolio and very much by design.
For payment and loyalty solutions we start with CashSuiteÔ which encompasses our core Fintech products. This includes core cash access services like ATM, Credit Card Cash Advance, POS Debit Advance, Dynamic Currency Conversion, Check Cashing and Cash Handling (e.g., Bill Breaking). Loyalty entails our LushÔ products which drive patron engagement, loyalty, customer acquisition, customer development and ultimately customer retention.
From there it gets granular with industry leading solutions around international payments, anti-money laundering, taxable payment automation and our very own processing switch, DataStreamÔ which is a proprietary and proudly “home-grown” cloud-based ATM and Debit processing platform.
We provide multiple hardware touchpoints that imbue a TRUE omni-channel/frictionless experience. These form factors include kiosks, associated equipment, mobile and traditional payment devices uniquely purposed to our services. Equally we provide associated equipment intended to make the resort operation more efficient in our LiveCageÔ and Bank Builder ProÔ recyclers.
Worldwide, there are between $800 billion and $2 trillion laundered annually. Do you have any technology for AML?
Absolutely. Passport Technology provides our resorts with a solution called Guardian ProÒ AML which helps compliance officers comply with federal AML and BSA regulations. Literally, all components to consolidate the audit function from CTRs, SARs and W2Gs to 1099S, W9s and customizable event tracking in REAL TIME!
Guardian ProÒ takes the complexity out of aggregated transaction data for AML compliance, automates tedious forms, auto entries from NIL to MTL, instant notification of reportable events, cash and check transactions monitored in real-time; all of which can be consumed in a simple, intuitive web-based interface.
Passport, in the very near future, will build a working community that will allow users to share best practices, tips and techniques for AML compliance. To our broader leadership team, this HAS to be an area of focus where irrespective of competition, everyone shares their collective experience which ultimately benefits the broader hospitality industry.
Could you explain a little about your cloud-based debit processing platform, DataStream? What USP does it has?
DataStreamÔ is special. It is rare for a Fintech company to have its own switch. Typically, you see a few players who resell their services to many and to be frank, I believe look at their partners as a commodity.
This manifests itself in many ways. While the service (e.g., uptime, approvals, merchant boarding, statements, commissions, etc.) may be solid; the innovation arc is non-existent.
As an example, we have put forward multiple innovative products that are only possible because we own our own switch. Specifically:
- Dynamic Pricing – allows a resort to create real-time fee customization based on a series of metrics that include demand, time of day, day of the week, special events and holidays. This value proposition is unmistakable…the flexibility can drive commissions for our resorts during peak times and drive more cash to the floor when there is less demand.
- VIP Pricing – allows a resort to offer custom fee amounts based on player club tier and loyalty status.
- CashSuiteÔ Quick
- QuickAdvance – ability to generate a cash advance within minutes without a negotiable instrument AND dispense at the kiosk
- QuickCheckÔ – ability to process checks electronically and ultimately automatically at a kiosk
Now, that also means we can put our own “polish” around TR-31 Security/Encryption, unique and custom TRD ranges, true hot/hot redundancy, mobile application portfolio management, expedited 24 hour ACH settlement, data analytics, dynamic currency conversion and of course cloud-based ATM Debit processing across the U.S. and Canada.
Within the next quarter, we will announce patented technology that marries loyalty to fintech.
Please discuss “cash and cage automation” technique. How does technology play a role here?
Great question. There are remarkable inefficiencies and risk to resorts who accept and give cash to customers. You have LIBOR (cost of cash); the labor to impress, replenish and reconcile; employee miscounts; theft; and fraud. You also have the process of counting cash in or out that compounds with the human element. That means mistakes are made and situations are taken advantage of.
We solve this through LiveCageÔ and Bank Builder ProÔ which puts automation, security and more process and structure around these transactions.
LiveCageÔ is one user interface that can aggregate data from multiple disparate systems and dispense cash to the penny. These disparate systems include other Fintech providers, RFID technologies and resort specific currencies. Bank Builder ProÔ affords retail outlets and franchises access to cash for their respective shifts while the resort knows real-time exposure, inventory, etc.
Over the past two years, the financial services industry has demonstrated its ability to successfully navigate unprecedented levels of uncertainty. What is your perception?
There are really five key things from my perspective:
- The pandemic changed A LOT…but it really served as an accelerant to self-service products. This is a key part of our growth plan and this is SHARED with our customers. When vendors and customers align…everyone wins. Customers expect the same level of service even though the market has fundamentally changed. You can’t maintain the same level of service without self-service and automation in fintech.
- Cash will still be around for a long while. Ignore the obvious in terms of it being a preferred medium for the unbanked and underbanked OR sometimes international travelers. Fintech companies must provide tools and services that transition to cashless and that journey must be pragmatic, collaborative and above all effective.
- You must innovate within the compliance vertical. Complexity, regulators and “we have always done it this way” are excuses leaders must refuse. The more we move to digital, the more the broader fintech community has to rally around risk, threats and impeding bad actors. Fintech companies MUST do more to share information.
- During periods of uncertainty, you have to ensure service remains your best product.
- Digital wallets and growth in this vertical will accelerate during times of certainty or uncertainty. Passport will be looked at as a leader in this vertical as we believe the right product correctly balances service, payments and loyalty into one frictionless app.
One tech book that you would suggest to our readers.
Tools and Weapons – The Promise and The Peril of The Digital Age by Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne. So many points to make here but many salient points around data privacy, tradeoffs of speed and risk, cyber importance, etc. Amazing read.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the tech industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
I would love to see anything and everything around a true omni-channel experience where payments are fast, flexible and frictionless. I would love to get Meredith Whittaker’s thoughts here knowing that AI and Big Tech will be disruptive within the fintech space.
Thank you, Diallo! That was fun and we hope to see you back on globalfintechseries.com soon.
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Diallo Gordon brings over 25 years of servant-based leadership, innovation, and technology experience to Passport, having served various engineering, management, and executive roles in defense, regulatory compliance, gaming, and payments.
Previous to Passport, Diallo served as the Founder and CEO of Phi Gaming, LLC, where his team built several innovative loyalty products for the B2B systems industry leading to the acquisition of Phi by Passport. Prior to Phi, Diallo spent 5 years with EVERI in various leadership roles, including EVP and General Manager, where he led technology, operations, product, service, and the successful M&A and integration of Western Money Systems.
Passport’s pursuit of excellence is driven through diversity , inclusion and collaboration as we strive to create opportunities for all stakeholders to thrive.
Passport is a leading developer of technology-based solutions and services for the highly regulated payments, gaming, and financial services markets. The company’s product portfolio includes redemption kiosks, quasi-cash, check warranty, ATM, digital payments, cash and cashless integrations, automation, regulatory compliance solutions, bank-sponsored transaction processing, server and web-based analytics, agnostic application management systems, and interactive content and loyalty services.