Putting BYOD into Practice

BYOD at Lottery Retail

This is the final post in a three-part series. Read Part I and Part II for more information.

The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model for lottery sales opens a spectrum of possibilities for implementation. Consider the Square point-of-sale solution, discussed in our previous post. Square sells software that allows businesses to process credit cards on a specified device. Whether an Apple, Android, or something else, as long as the retailer obtains one of the devices specified by Square, the company certifies that its installed software will work with that hardware. A lottery could take a similar route and specify certain devices to be used, or supply the device to the retailer.

I tested the ease of this approach myself a few years ago in the lab. I bought a Square device and set up a small standalone demonstration to scan lottery tickets. Within five minutes, I had connected my own credit card to my personal eTrade account to process the sale. It was a plug-and-play solution; that’s the promise if the lottery industry adopts something like the Square model for BYOD.

The approved device could be either dedicated to lottery or non-dedicated. A non-dedicated device might be the ultimate goal, but perhaps the device is dedicated to lottery starting out, until the new model is widely accepted.

But the device is only one part of the model. Historically, when lottery terminals are installed at a retailer, the lottery also pays to set up the communication link. BYOD introduces the question of who provides the communications network. Many retailers already have internet connectivity or WiFi networks in their locations. This could also mean they provide the communications network, further reducing the cost to the lottery.

Today, a great deal of technology is involved in downloading lottery applications to a terminal, and it’s a closed network. In the BYOD model, all that’s required in this respect is secure software to handle the lottery application. Retailers could use their own internet connection to download the software from an app store after registering with the lottery to sell, as they do now.

Another consideration is, what constitutes a valid BYOD experience in terms of service levels? Today, for example, almost every U.S. jurisdiction specifies no more than three seconds from the time an operator hits send on a lottery terminal to the time the ticket is printed. This rate of speed is deemed sufficient to accommodate a heavy volume of transactions, but for smaller or non-traditional retailers without heavy volumes, a three-second send-to-cut may not be necessary. For a retailer using the BYOD model, maybe five seconds is sufficient.

When it comes to adoption, we always need to consider the consumer perspective. BYOD may be disconcerting for consumers initially, since a lottery ticket may not be sold on a familiar, lottery-branded terminal or with traditional lottery-branded ticket paper. However, it should be noted that BYOD doesn’t eliminate the need for in-store lottery branding and marketing support. It’s also easy to imagine that, over time, consumer familiarity with this new paradigm and the legitimacy of the retail environment will help to overcome any potential resistance to adoption.

Last but not least, this new paradigm presents new approaches for retailer support, whether in relation to terminals or to the communications network. In this regard, the retailer themselves or potentially third parties would be the first point of contact for resolving issues, and existing lottery support mechanisms – training, call centers, and point-of-sales materials – would need to be adjusted to reflect the new reality.

As BYOD establishes itself within the lottery industry, it will be important for lotteries to think differently in everything from how RFPs are scoped and written, to retailer registration and licensing. The good news is that parallel applications are being applied successfully using this model. Consumers are doing their banking with this model, and businesses are using Square to sell this way. It’s good for the retailers, and it’s good for lotteries.

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