By Tom Nightingale
Payment technology provider Nuvei is gearing up to have a leading presence in the Canadian iGaming market.
“We’re very excited about Canada,” says Neil Erlick, the company’s chief corporate development officer. “We think we have a solution that’s unmatched in the industry not only from a technology standpoint but from the relationships and the experience we have.”
The Montreal-headquartered company has long established itself as a leading electronic payment processing company in numerous fields, providing a single payment platform integration and operating across omni-channel and e-commerce markets.
North American gaming – the new frontier
A particular area of focus for the company is iGaming at a time when significant progress is being made in the Canadian and American online gaming and sports betting markets.
That has been reflected by Nuvei joining both the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) and the American Gaming Association (AGA) in recent months. Erlick sits on the AGA’s board of directors.
Nuvei’s gaming offer is simple: a leading iGaming payment solution provider which helps operators maximize conversions, improve acceptance rates, and enhance security, all through a single proprietary platform. The company comes with vast knowledge of the evolving regulatory and compliance landscape.
Though Nuvei’s work spans far more than gaming, it is steeped in history in the regulated industry. “We’ve been processing regulated gaming transactions around the world for close to 15 years,” notes Erlick. These days, it is one of the largest processing companies for gaming around the world, operating in over 200 markets with 470 different payment methods in nearly 150 currencies and 40 cryptocurrencies. “The beauty is that it’s all available through our single platform and a single integration,” explains Erlick. He adds that gaming fits nicely with the core pillars of what Nuvei looks for in its verticals: longevity, tailwinds with inherent growth, and the propensity to operate globally.
While North America is comparatively new when it comes to regulated iGaming, Erlick notes the company’s expanded operations on the continent is an extension of how Nuvei has been operating for close to two decades. “Not only do we have the relationships with all of the top operators, we also have the integrations with the operators, and we’ve gained their trust by working with them for so long.”
Key to Nuvei’s work and success has been understanding consumer behaviour and how the customer wants to pay, as well as giving operators flexibility in payments. “We try and ensure that when a customer comes to a gaming operator’s website, we give them the ability to pay and get paid in a very safe and timely environment. However they want to pay they’re able to; however they want to get paid they’re able to.”
A banner year
The Montreal-based company is Canada’s largest private and non-bank payment processor and shattered records as the country’s largest-ever tech IPO in the second half of 2020. Part of that stock popularity has been the growing amount of business that consumers and customers are doing online instead of in-person, a trend accelerated by the pandemic.
“We didn’t see some of the COVID-19 bumps that you hear a lot of people talking about,” acknowledges Erlick. “Primarily, that goes back to the verticals that we operate in and their inherent growth, the tailwinds, the global operation. What we think COVID-19 did is increase the total market and accelerate the growth, and we don’t anticipate a falloff from that.”
Erlick notes that Nuvei had a “fantastic” year financially, growing its business from the existing merchant base, expanding into new markets, and adding double-digit growth through net new sales. The company is confident that with the North American market booming, it will continue to grow year over year. “We’re proud of what we’ve done and what we’re building,” Erlick emphasizes.
As well as joining the CGA and AGA, another major announcement came in recent weeks: Nuvei’s acquisition of fellow CGA member Mazooma in a deal expected to close in Q2 of 2021. The specialist account-to-account payments provider is integrated with most of the gaming, online gaming, and sports betting platforms in the U.S. “We’re very excited,” says Erlick. “They have phenomenal technology and they’re the leading account-to-account payment provider in the U.S. with agreements and relationships with pretty much all the top operators. It just fits so well with our strategy to grow our gaming business in North America.”
Pushing ahead in Canada
Outside of gaming, Nuvei has a big business in Canada. But the momentum for iGaming and single-event sports betting growth has the company particularly excited for the market.
Joining the CGA made perfect sense for Nuvei, and Erlick hopes it will be a symbiotic relationship that can help the Canadian market flourish down the line.
“We have experience with regulators in the U.S. and we’re making sure we help educate the Canadian provinces in what they should be looking for. Hopefully, we can bring the expertise we have in processing regulated and share it with the CGA and its members. We also want to make sure we’re at the forefront of working with the groups that are so well-respected in the industry. It was a no-brainer for us to join the CGA; we want to be associated with these groups and gain some of that knowledge back, to work with people at the forefront of regulatory and compliance changes. We’re very excited and I think it will be a great partnership. It fits well with where we want to be.”
In Canadian digital gaming, the lottery corporations have been the only regulated avenue. But Erlick notes that Nuvei already has the foothold to thrive as and when the market opens. “A lot of the operators today are already our clients, and some of them are already in the process of establishing their operations and their offices in preparation.”
Erlick stresses that Nuvei has been focusing on building the framework so that when things are approved in Canada, “we just press a button and enable our operators to go live.” That has entailed preparing different deposit types, acquiring banks, liaising with the province of Ontario in particular – all the infrastructure needed to ensure that as soon as an operator is licensed and starts processing, there’s no work for them to do. “We believe very much in the Canadian market so we’re taking all these steps to ensure we’re ready when it gets opened up to outside operators and that we can simply ‘turn on’ Canada,” Erlick adds. “We’re taking a ‘crawl-walk-run’ approach to the Canadian market. We want to make sure that when we come to market, we come with the best possible solution. We know we only get one shot.”