Ilixium Q&A with Richard Smith


Q. What is your role at Ilixium?

A. “As CEO, I oversee Ilixium and its strategic direction in an exciting (but sometimes challenging) set of industries – the online gaming and gambling space. Working with more complex clients means much of my time is spent understanding their needs and discovering where the payments industry has failed to cater for them so we can provide the specialist support that’s missing.

When I’m not getting as deep an understanding as possible of the regional complexities of the gambling space, I’m communicating to the team where their focus should be, what our priorities are and how it connects to the business’ longer strategic plan. We are a lean organisation with a tight and trusted team and so are very open – keeping them informed on the business’ direction in the immediate future while defining what we need to be doing in the coming months and years.”

Q. Why is your role inspiring to you? 

A. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset and strong interpersonal skills – which my father identified and helped hone from a sales perspective. I’m also passionate about technology and began my career in software and supporting systems development – and even though I soon realised my true talent lay elsewhere, it remains an area that interests me.

As such, my role means I get to use my core business strengths – speaking to clients, listening to them, understanding how the market dynamics around them are moving, and then shaping solutions based on what will make a difference. At the same time, the former software developer side of me still gets to indulge in the tech aspect of the industry, albeit vicariously.

There’s also a visceral quality to the payments industry – since it touches people as it’s about how they pay. This, in combination with helping businesses connect with customers to make the world a local marketplace – irrespective of where the customer is, the currency they choose to pay in, and the method with which they pay – and knowing that we’re influencing behaviour, inspires me.”


Q. What are your priorities within the business? 

A. “We have a deep understanding of several geographical regions, including Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Europe and Latin America – so in the short term, Ilixium’s priorities are to ensure we continue to grow in existing markets and remain razor-sharp in these jurisdictions. Particularly in those countries where we recently launched payment hubs.

My priority in the business is to extend and expand our offerings and reach, and to identify the challenges that organisations are facing that have thus far proved to be insurmountable – here is where overseeing key client relationships greatly assists in giving me that first-hand insight. I then articulate the challenge to the team and draw on their expertise to discuss related factors – for example, product and development process, technical and legal barriers, or compliance requirements – and to evaluate the market opportunity.”

“The industry is not for the faint-hearted and often brings with it ambiguity and uncertainty, it’s these same challenges that drive our business.”

Q. How does this help your customers? 

A. “Providing payments for online gaming and gambling means navigating municipalities’ differing regulations. With respect to what’s happening in the US, Canada, and South America – where regulation changes have opened the doors to the world of online casinos – we’re at the start of a new era. 

Many countries will inevitably follow and face similar challenges – whereby they’re either not licenced locally, or about to licence. At the same time, each market will have its own bespoke requirements, so what works in one region will not necessarily translate to another.

Ilixium is the go-to specialist payment provider in this environment. We’re extremely knowledgeable about the gaming and gambling space and have an intimate understanding of several geographical regions. Our ‘international’ capability is the establishment of payment hubs, both tactical and strategic, in other countries that suit online gambling markets. But rather than professing to be experts all over the world, we have focussed on developing deep domain expertise in a handful of countries. 

Gambling merchants are technically-savvy and share similarities with ecommerce platforms, so just as important as our expertise in navigating regulation, compliance and fraud, it’s important to have reliable technology to support the payments process. Underpinning our know-how and experience is our proprietary technology. Here, we provide a platform that never goes down and gives people the right money. It’s that simple.”


Q. What’s exciting to you about the payments industry? 

A. The evolving nature of the gaming and gambling industry and changing attitudes towards it keeps things fresh. Ten years ago, from a bank’s point of view, and even from a reputational stance, online gambling was considered a tad insalubrious. Now it’s far better understood, and the dynamics have changed considerably. 

Ilixium is incredibly personal to me and the team – the online gaming and gambling industry is not an easy journey – if it was everyone would do it. It’s not just regulation, compliance, security, cross-border transactions, payment options and currencies that need to be considered. In some instances, the industry can experience seismic changes overnight due to factors like geopolitical disruption or a change in government. 

But while the industry is not for the faint-hearted and often brings with it ambiguity and uncertainty, it’s these same challenges that drive our business. This is the motivation, and what excites me and the team – solving the industry and regional challenges that others have shied away from due to their complexity, and helping businesses provide a seamless, safe and responsible gaming experience.”