It’s pretty standard practice these days to see the cashier at your favorite coffee shop haunt swipe your credit card through an iPad-connected card-reader. We’re getting more and more used to increasingly digital forms of payment in our day-to-day lives.
But integrating that kind of payment or rewards system is much harder when you’re trying to handle transactions beyond just a tall decaf mocacchino.
Perhaps the ultimate challenge in streamlining and digitizing finances is a casino, where charges, wins, and losses are racked up by the minute every day. That’s what one Australian company found. Casinos face a unique market challenge in managing all the money, theoretical and actual, that filters through their accounting system every day.
Some casinos face an additional challenge. Because gamblers sometimes lose money, a few Australian casinos wanted to find a way to reward their customers for playing even when they don’t have the best luck. The solution: a rewards system based on time spent playing, so even someone having a rough day on the slots could earn a Chuck E. Cheese-style reward for their time on the machine.
The wrinkle: most casino machines are already wired for their own win/loss records, and hooked up to a system that monitors debits or credits electronically (rather than using the classic image of old school chips). These wiring systems don’t leave a lot of room, between their software and their wiring, for adding in the kind of frequent-flyer points most casinos are hoping to establish. Not to mention a host of bureaucratic limitations, legal and otherwise, that make it tough to link the two systems up.
"The idea: a rewards system based on time spent playing, so even someone having a rough day on the slots could earn a Chuck E. Cheese-style reward for their time on the machine."
That means there was an open market opportunity for a smart company to build a swipe-based rewards system that could run separately from the rest of the casino’s revenue stream.
Enter a few such companies, ready to solve the question of customer loyalty in smart fashion.
The beauty of designing a system like this one is that the customer should never feel disrupted; they don’t need to know that when they swipe their casino card, it’s sending a signal to two separately built systems. Simple on the outside, complex on the inside.
The engineering behind it is a deceptively simple beauty too: the standalone wired system is based on LonWorks technology and Echelon’s higher-than-industry-standard twisted-pear cabling environment. That strength and reliability is key in loud casino or restaurant environments, where noise can interfere with the signal.
At some point, we all outgrow the red ticket Chuck E. Cheese style reward system - that’s when it comes time for a grown-up way to win cool stuff. And grown-up fun means some grown-up engineering to make it happen.