Having launched in February 2018, BetConnect, an enterprise seeking to deliver betting’s next-generation exchange, is still a relatively new incumbent to the industry.
With this being said, the company has stated it is trading at unrivalled year-1 growth after recording another record-breaking month following the release of its October figures which show over £2 million of monthly matched bets – figures that confirm the company’s ninth consecutive month of growth, and more than doubles its previous record of £1 million matched bets achieved in July.
As a result, BetConnect’s Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Schreiber, sat down with SBC and gave an insight into the company by discussing its first full operational year and his plans for the future.
SBC: BetConnect is coming up to its first full year in operation. Can you summarise for SBC readers your company’s 2019 journey as a start-up enterprise within the saturated betting marketplace?
DS: It is clearly a very competitive environment so in order to stand out we have kept faith in an offering that strongly differentiates itself from all other betting exchanges.
In the nine months since launch we’ve shown this is the right approach and the amount of volume going through our platforms certainly justifies our decision to provide a unique offering. So far, every month has been a record month in terms of trading volumes which fills us with confidence going forward.
We’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations in terms of how the product has grown and the volumes that we see going through the platform every day. It’s amazing when we see a £5,000 racing bet matched rapidly on the platform at a time when the market is still very illiquid on other exchanges. It shows there is a market out there for people who want to back and lay decent sized bets at early prices.
We also have some very healthy matched volume on other sports such as football and tennis.
SBC: 2020 will mark the 20th year of the Betfair Exchange in operations. How has the exchange model changed betting, and why do you want to break it?
DS: We’re not breaking the model, we’re just improving it. BetConnect is a complementary product in the exchange model and provides a different way for exchange users to bet. Sportsbooks themselves are a saturated market, which is one of the reasons why our platform adheres more closely to the exchange model.
Clearly the exchange model has had a major effect in changing the way bookmakers produce prices – to some extent the exchanges end up dictating the books, rather than the other way around – but I think that’s something we’ve now all accepted.
SBC: BetConnect has developed an exchange platform and player community from scratch. What key principles guided the development of the BetConnect product merging two digital disciplines?
DS: BetConnect has become a proven meeting-point for a wide variety of bettors with totally differing requirements. The Pro account is for creating Bet Requests and best suits:
- Professional gamblers, restricted elsewhere, looking to place large bets
- Syndicates seeking extra liquidity than they encounter elsewhere
- Lower-level recreational punters who have started encountering restrictions
- Any user who wants a single account in order to access the best prices across Oddschecker
The “Punter” account, which is for matching those Bet Requests, suits:
- Bettors who enjoy acting as bookmakers themselves by laying bets
- The emerging and increasingly important Matched Betting community
- Any exchange layers who normally pay commission can lay bets at 0% commission
Online sports betting in 2019 is a multi-faceted, multi-disciplined environment and BetConnect is the right solution for a wide variety of bettors to come together in one place.
SBC: What principles of online wagering do you believe that BetConnect is fundamentally trying to disrupt or reconfigure?
DS: In exchange markets, liquidity does not build up until very shortly before race time or kick-off time – or even once the event has started in so-called “in-play” markets. What we need to do is to return liquidity to early prices on both horse racing and football.
We have decided 9am is the best time to open our racing markets for all races scheduled on the same day while some of our football markets open several days in advance.
We’re allowing people to get their bets on at their convenience. We want to help online punters to place a bet in the morning when prices are freely available at all major bookmakers because at the moment exchange liquidity is no longer there.
SBC: BetConnect has placed a high emphasis on ‘punter transparency’ as a core dynamic in building its player base. How hard is this to achieve pro punters?
DS: You can see the profile of the person sending the bet. As a layer it gives you an idea as to whether you want to take the guy on and lay himin full, or if you think he’s particularly good you might want to lay the bet while also backing the same selection with a third-party bookmaker. There’s no option for a Pro to opt out of having his career ROI on BetConnect displayed and this is probably the biggest unique selling point for our platform.
SBC: How do you progress an ‘amateur/novice’ punter’s development, when he is essentially sharing a platform with Pro players?
DS: We are giving the Punter access to real bets of gamblers who can’t get their bets on elsewhere. They know they are genuine people who want to have bets down rather than the anonymous tipsters who populate social media with bets they often aren’t brave enough to back with their own money. The Punters get to know the person behind the bet. They build up a picture of what sort of bets that Pro likes having and whether they are someone whose bets should be followed as tips in themselves.
The advantages of using the platform as a layer are huge – layers benefit from 0% commission and the ability to lay at bookmaker prices which are frequently beneficial compared to those on the other exchanges.
SBC: Furthermore, from a tech perspective how do you build a platform and community that needs to cater to two very different types of customers?
DS: We’re allowing people to create Bet Requests and we’re dividing these Bet Requests up to multiple Punters to respond to. We have built a robust UI which is exceptionally user-friendly and not particularly complicated to create.
We try to make the interface as easy to use as possible and we get good feedback from people. Some exchanges are cluttered and difficult to use but you can’t go wrong with BetConnect.
From our side, key is that however big the initial bet is, we are able to split it up into bitesize bets for the Punters to match.
We have continued to add value to the interface. We now allow Punters to choose which bookmakers they want to see so if they want to follow the bet they get relevant information. We also help them choose what range of prices they want to see and the sports they want to see. And one of our most recent additions is a feature called Match + More which makes the site more efficient and gives the layer the opportunity to match more should they want to.
SBC: Looking forward, how do you see your platform developing, what next instalments do you have to BetConnect?
DS: We are keen to roll out more of a social platform and look at a way of sending bets geographically. If you are a Welsh fan and England are playing Wales in rugby we would send you bets from people backing England because they’re more likely to get laid. We could even include a football team focus. Imagine if you’re a Spurs fan and someone wants an Arsenal bet. If we know your football team that’s great – we will get a lot of natural layers. It’s very easy and if there’s a Bet Request against your football team we’ll send it to you.
We can offer more markets within the sports we already offer. We have seen a lot of big syndicates send their business our way and to attract even more we have built a racing API that we are hoping to launch to the big syndicates and high-frequency users. It allows automated trading which big syndicates want to do, to be able to fire off their bets to us as quickly and conveniently as possible. We are in the early stages of rolling it out now – it would be something available to our members on request – and if it’s a success we would roll it out to other sports.