Embed celebrates 20 years; expands offer for free Mobile Wallet

AT: Tim Baldwin

SINGAPORE — Twenty years ago, there were just four employees. From that handful of innovators, a large company has grown that has not only serviced the family entertainment sector but also help it evolve. In 2001, the concept of developing a cashless business system spurred this quartet into establishing Embed.

In the two decades since, the company has grown internationally as well as technologically. In 2006, the Color-Glo color-changing card reader system won an IAAPA Impact Award. The company’s most recent award-winning innovation was in 2020 when its Mobile Wallet was honored with the Operator’s Choice Award from the Amusement & Music Operators Association.

The Embed team feels that as technology has evolved, they have remained at the forefront of FEC transformation with its creative innovation and location-based services. Renee Welsh steers the company as CEO. She founded Booking Boss in 2013, which was acquired by Helix Leisure, a mix of industry insiders and next generation IT. Embed is one of its companies.

“It’s the people who make the industry of fun so extraordinary,” said Welsh. “A highlight is working with our industry tech partners — Apple, Google, and Amazon — who support us to architect and trailblaze the technological future of the FEC.

“People are embracing contactless payment technologies — getting used to paying via their mobile phones. This kind of transaction was already happening before the pandemic. My foresight is that the ever-changing consumer behavior will continually opt for this safer and easier way to pay in the years to come; it’s a no brainer.

“Businesses have to adapt to a post-pandemic world and the new mindset of visitors. Consumers are worried about keeping their families COVID-free. They don’t want to touch cash and coins — which can carry living germs and viruses for days. They want to minimize contact with other people while standing in line at POS, the prize redemption counter, or topping up their game cards,” Welsh said.

Welsh takes pride in Embed being one of the first female-led organizations in the FEC industry.

“When I first started out in this industry, female representation in the tech and family FEC sectors was unheard of. This is particularly true in the FEC sector, which is male-dominated. That is why after I became a female CEO of a company in the tech industry, I have continued to push for greater female representation, especially at the C-Suite level,” she said. “I’m proud to say that 50 percent of our leadership team is female, when half of start-ups have no women on their leadership teams.”

To talk with Welsh, it is apparent that she is extremely proud of the company’s commitment to both gender and cultural equality in the technical sector. The company’s workforce is an exemplary wealth of different backgrounds and perspectives in its diversity.

Assisting FECs during the pandemic, Embed offered its award-winning Mobile Wallet to operators for free. Now during the 20th anniversary celebration, Embed is extending that offer to customers for another year.

“When we implemented our COVID-19 Relief Act and gave our award-winning Mobile Wallet free in 2020, we received very positive feedback from existing and new customers on how our solutions helped them recover, prosper, and thrive during the pandemic; driving return customer visits and future-proofing their business,” said Welsh. “So it was a no-brainer to give the Mobile Wallet for free as our Embed 20th anniversary gift to the industry.”

The ease of installation, along with no app download requirement, is one of the reasons Mobile Wallet has been well received in the industry. The global pandemic has reinforced the desire for low-touch scenarios and cashless payments.

Spearheaded by Embed, the game card was an innovation in cashless technology. For its 20th anniversary, the company has produced anniversary-themed cards that are customizable for clients to make the game card even more of a collectible keepsake and a popular tangible item to drive return business.

“Embed’s 20th anniversary limited edition game cards are given out to our customers in celebration of 20 years in the industry,” Welsh said. “Embed already customizes game card designs for our customers, on top of our cutting-edge range of card designs and RFID wearables that come with embossed graphics, printed in full color on a shimmering metallic base. Embed also makes natural and organic game cards printed on real wood. These winning card collections are sure to become collectibles and inspire a cult following.”

Amusement Today asked Welsh how the family entertainment center has changed over the past 20 years. She replied: “In the tech-driven world we live in, it’s all about the experience economy. It is very simple: it’s not enough to offer goods and services and call it a day. Consumers expect a highly immersive experience, with an inferred expectation to ease and the immediacy to game play and fun. They don’t want to waste time waiting around in lines.

“They use technology to make their lives easier, so they make reservations and bookings via mobile and in real-time. They expect businesses like restaurants, FECs, cinemas, and attractions to value their time — shortening wait times upon customer arrival, preparing a party, food, and beverages ahead of time, and so on. They want their gaming experience maximized — game cards topped up without standing in line at a kiosk, wallet-in-hand; they want to top up their game card on their mobile phone without leaving the game, having all their information on their mobile phone, so they don’t need to walk across the venue to check their balance or prize redemption tickets. This is advantageous to the operator because it keeps the consumer engaged without disruption, which is an operationally efficient way to generate revenue.” 

From a humble tech startup, the company is now an industry leader in integrated, cloud-based business solutions that enable operators to thrive in increasing profitability and achieve greater efficiency while reducing costs. Embed now serves a diverse customer base of more than 1,000 clients in 56 countries, with a total of more than 3,000 cashless business management system installations.

“There’s no doubt that the FEC industry requires an integrated business platform to enable, empower and ease businesses in growing their revenue, streamlining their operations and maximizing their profits — especially in such difficult times,” said Welsh. “With Embed’s legacy in innovation, we look forward to reimagining the business of fun and revolutionizing the FEC sector.”


This article appears in the SEPTEMBER 2021 issue of Amusement Today.
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