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Brave new world: iGaming platforms in 2016

| By iGB Editorial Team
EveryMatrix CEO Ebbe Groes speaks to iGaming Business about the iGaming platform space in 2016

What are the main factors driving the emergence of this new generation of platform suppliers in the iGaming space?

The most significant development in the sport betting and casino software industry is the emerging trend of a single client-facing brand that uses multiple software suppliers to distribute the greatest variety of games to their players, sometimes from multiple platforms. This is however a far-from-ideal scenario, especially for smaller operators, as they have to deal with a lot of providers at the same time. New operators may also not be in a position to deal with the incumbent platforms or have the internal resources to maintain a dedicated technical support team or technology needed to support this increasing number of providers, as well as the multiple integrations required.

The iGaming market and players’ expectations have changed, and the demands for localised events and gaming content are increasing, especially with emerging regulations and new target audiences.

The online gambling space is growing, and operators need to attract new categories of players and increase revenues. Tier 1 operators now offer sports betting alongside their casino, or the other way around, under the same brand name. Since operators cover virtually every vertical from one central property, this allows players unlimited gambling access. There is also a growing number of smaller niche operators that focus on specific territories and regulated jurisdictions that now want to target these markets with additional content appealing to and attracting new players.

A good example of this would be the regulated Danish market, where EveryMatrix not only provides a platform, content and services to Danish-licensed operators, but it is also the only .dk licensee that can offer the entire product portfolio as a white-label platform provider. Another example would be Sporting Index, which chose EveryMatrix to integrate the CasinoEngine API into its existing spread betting platform to deliver RNG and live casino content from multiple providers via a seamless wallet to their targeted loyal customer base.

How is the emergence of this new wave of platform providers transforming the way that the sector does business and delivers its wares to consumers? Can the sector sustain such an exponential increase in the number of such suppliers in the marketplace?

Today we are seeing increasingly sophisticated product demands and requests, and it’s this demand that is driving the growing numbers of new platform providers entering the market. It’s true that many providers do offer the same portfolio of games, sporting events and betting markets, but the ability for operators to
customize and differentiate their products is almost infinite these days.

Switching focus to the operators themselves, we think their ability to provide a unique offering specific to their players and their brand, focused on retention, is the differentiator.

As for all the new platform providers entering the market, some of them will grow, some will be acquired, while others are already focusing on particular verticals such as social betting or virtual sports. It’s definitely a very competitive landscape that leads to innovation and improvements in service quality.

What does EveryMatrix do that is different from other platform providers?

Our platform is all about flexibility. We have developed a next-generation platform that has been built and designed to allow the easy integration of APIs from content suppliers, payment processors and third party software houses such as Optimove and Emarsys, amongst others. As the industry develops and matures, it’s essential for us to be able to integrate with any third party content provider, regardless of their gaming offering. Equally important for us is how we deliver our products and services to our partners and operators whilst differentiating the front-end customer experience.

EveryMatrix has developed a range of APIs that allow partners and operators to build and control the customer-facing front-end simply using HTML and JavaScript. These APIs are available for our products – sports, casino and payments – and can be either hosted on our platform or integrated seamlessly with the operator’s proprietary or third party platform, again demonstrating our versatility and flexibility. Our services are also centrally managed and protected in our fully compliant data centres, ensuring compliance with all regulations in the various countries and gaming jurisdictions, again taking some of the pain away from the operator.

Does today’s market structure of many content providers plugging into multiple platforms necessitate a greater degree of collaboration and openness between providers? And if so, what is the key to making these relationships work and deliver for operators and consumers?

We believe the future of solutions development comes from collaborative efforts between multiple suppliers. We don’t see EveryMatrix as a company that can deliver all necessary products to its clients by itself, but as being able to do so only through a close connection with other suppliers in the industry.

We built our company around the very principle that every provider in the market delivers the best results in its particular specialist area, whether this is about casino games, sports or payment solutions.

Therefore, our aim is to simply be the best in what we do right now, which is aggregation. For this reason, we believe that delivering the best products for our clients – whether it’s payment solutions, casino or sports – requires a high degree of collaboration.

So, as I love to say, we are here to aggregate, aggregate, and aggregate some more! Therefore, our business is built upon the very fruits of our collaboration with many other companies that create and supply software to the industry.

From the moment our company entered the market, we noticed a series of important changes unfolding, including our clients getting increasingly involved in their operations’ development, particularly when it comes to managing the end-user experience.

All our collaborations with payments, sports and casino providers have helped our company select and choose the best products in the market to deliver. So, what we actually do these days is improve our integration methods and create better connections between products. We also strongly consider web API technology the key for delivering better connectivity between suppliers, providers and players.

How important is technology and innovation to a platform supplier?

Today’s online gambling space poses significant challenges when it comes to enhancing the product offering, due to the demands of the regulatory framework, handling big data, and being multi-device and multi-lingual, including across the provision of multiple payment methods.

For the last 12 months, we have been focused on rebuilding our software gaming platform using the latest technology. We are using many technologies (HTML5, AngularJS, React, Java and others) but their central purpose has always been to provide improved solutions to the challenges we and our clients face, to consolidate scalability or enhance the users’ experience. For both operators and players, a strong user experience is a must.

The current trend among players is to constantly shift from one device to another. This is another reason why maintaining user experience as a focus and building a cross-device front-end is so important. To this end, operators who provide a seamless experience across all devices will save development costs while at the same time building brand loyalty.

Furthermore, our current clients are focused on the markets where mobile device capability is getting better every day. As a response to this demand from the many clients undertaking Web API development and also resulting from the growing focus on mobile gaming, we are ready with version 2.0 of our Web API protocol. The most important addition is the ability to service native mobile apps from the API, as opposed to just wrapping the mobile website within an app. Operators can now make the apps really stand out while also offering as many features as are needed. Furthermore, native apps have numerous advantages over a mobile website, including better UI, speed and security.

What are the main areas of focus for EveryMatrix as we go deeper into 2016?

On the back of long-term investment in the EveryMatrix platform and driven by a constant commitment to deliver the best possible software, in 2016 we are focused on supplying better integration components, faster delivery and multiple payment options to our clients. With regards to payments, we are getting close to launch MoneyMatrix – our completely revamped standalone PCI-compliant and MFSA (Malta Financial Services Authority)-regulated product.

For us, development is a continuous process. Another good example of this is PartnerMatrix, our affiliate and agent system, which has recently been upgraded to a standalone product, meaning that the system can now be integrated with any platform provider and included in their platform offering alongside their own products.

Expect each of these products to improve substantially over time, as there is always room for improvement in this dynamic, ever-changing industry!

How do you predict the industry will develop in the next five years? Is it a good or bad time to be in gambling?

It’s always a good time to be in gambling! Since it began, the industry has demonstrated remarkable resilience during a number of difficult periods, including economic crises and legislative and regulatory challenges, but has emerged stronger every time. So, it is a good industry to be in, as it was 10 years ago, and it will continue to be a great industry in which to invest in the years to come.

However, to be successful and maintain a presence in the industry for more than a few years, you have to be able to adapt to changing environments. It is difficult to anticipate the future, and there are no shortage of examples of dwarfs becoming giants and giants turning to dwarfs, sometimes happening in less than five years. For companies, the ability to adapt and react to the market changes will predict and dictate their overall success.

What do you see as the major trends in the online gambling business and how will your product roadmap in 2016 reflect these?

We are noticing a few major trends in the industry at the moment, such as a growing emphasis on Asia, the preference for mobile platforms and the increasing number of players choosing live sporting events.

EveryMatrix has always considered the most effective strategy for our solutions is to factor in the particular features of every local market we are looking to access alongside our clients.

Following the strong growth of recent years, 2016 represents the time we need to stop and focus on striking the right balance between rapid development and reliable solutions.

We continue to work on improving our products and our operational procedures, better connecting our teams and providing faster delivery of our solutions into the market.

We have more clients and players and bigger volumes than ever before, and we want to build on this so that our clients will remain strong and keep on attracting players in the years to come.

What pieces of advice would you give to new operators looking to enter the iGaming space?

My number one piece of advice for new operators would be to build their teams around people who know this industry and know what they’re doing. I would also mention other important aspects, such as having the necessary financial support in place to launch the gaming site and invest in a reliable and proven software platform.

Yet, there is no real substitute for having the right people in your team, people who can bring their years of experience and knowledge to bear. If an operator is surrounded by the right people, the financial resources or support a large organization can bring to the table become far less important than the individuals who are next to you.

We have seen many clients enter the market without large financial backing who still managed to reach the top in less than a year, thanks to having experienced people on board, and I personally would place my bets on people ahead of everything else when it comes to building success in this industry.

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