Alessandro Fried, BtoBet: Fighting back against the franchise

BtoBet CEO Alessandro Fried believes that operators risk becoming merely a franchise of their platform provider if they take an off-the-shelf product with a prescribed user experience.

Fried said that it does not make sense from a business point of view for an operator to opt to deliver the exact same user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) to many of its market competitors. 

“In the betting market, you have on one side tier 1 operators such as bet365 or William Hill that have their own tech and develop their own UX,” he explained. 

“On the other side, many of the platform providers deliver not only the platform with their technology, but also the UX as they envision it. This creates a scenario where platform providers are delivering and transferring the same experience to their customers, with nothing that distinguishes one brand from the other in terms of UX.

“Each of their customers then get the same betting experience, so the operator is not delivering its own experience. Ultimately it is the wrong approach to be undertaken because operators are becoming franchises of the same UX that comes part and parcel with the technology that is delivered from the service providers.”

By contrast, Fried stated that BtoBet has dealt with this problem by disconnecting the whole UX aspect from the core platform technology, thus “unlocking the potential for each bookmaker to create their own individual player experience”.

Individual operators working with BtoBet now have the freedom to differentiate totally the UI and UX for each channel through key elements – especially from a mobile perspective – such as front-end visualizations, side menus, and the way that the players access and interact with their betting slips.

“Yes, the core technology and the core platform that BtoBet provides its partners to manage their operations is still the same,” said Fried. “A bet is always a bet, the risk is always the same, just as the odds are always odds. However, the way you present this makes all the difference. The way you deliver the UX and the way you engage your target players is totally unique, distinct, and reflects the operator’s own vision.

“We have already undertaken this approach with multiple partners operating in the same region and the same market, yet employing different strategies to acquire and retain players, with distinct betting experiences and interfaces.

“One has to also keep in mind that not all operators are ready, mature, and have the required infrastructure to undertake such an approach. This is why BtoBet has launched the White Label Partnership Program which caters highly customizable off-the-shelf solutions that can represent the first step to undertake their own brand UX.

“Through this two-tiered approach we are able to cater for a wider set of customers with BtoBet positioning itself as the ideal technical partner to provide the necessary support, providing our experts to help them develop their brand identity and experience.” 

Despite its experience across gaming jurisdictions worldwide, BtoBet does not impose its own interpretation of the right experience upon its partners.

Fried said: “For the bigger operators prepared to exploit the full flexibility of our sportsbook platform, there are two options. Either they have the knowledge and people to build it themselves, or we send a UX analyst and assign a team of developers to carry out the changes they want. The more a market matures, the more such an approach will reap its benefits.”

BtoBet might have made its name in the industry through servicing emerging markets, particularly across Africa and LatAm, but this was more a case of taking the right opportunities as they came, rather than anything from a technical standpoint.  

“The technology gives us the option to be present in any market,” said Fried. “Africa presented us with the ideal scenario. Mobile was strongly emerging, diverse payment methods as well. It was the perfect moment to acquire a leading position.

“Similarly with LatAm, we are present in almost all the countries because it is also in a phase where the region is transitioning from grey to regulated markets. It is the perfect moment to acquire a position and be ready for regulation in the likes of Brazil and Peru.”

Fried added: “Many industry players deem us as being the door to the iGaming industry in Africa. Why? Because we have adapted our technology for this market.

“Yet this need for efficiency should never dictate delivery of just a standardized offer. When you take an off-the-shelf product, the process is already defined. You log in, deposit, select a bet, and subsequently place a bet. But if you want to innovate, there are various things one could do. 

“Let’s take the registration process as an example. In some countries the regulations in place allow you to obtain the data from the players through the payment method itself. One has to keep in mind that the freedom involved in building the UX is not restricted to just the front-end design, but the holistic approach of player acquisition and retention, even for things such as registration, the log-in process, the deposits, and cash-out.

“Africa is a market in its infancy and requires a certain approach. Europe is totally different. It is a mature market, requiring its own strategy, with operators approaching us in order to depart from the legacy path to undertake a more flexible and scalable approach from a compliance point of view.

“You have these established tier one operators who own their own tech and put resources into building the right UX. But they can get a little stuck when they want to move into other countries because they have a problem in adapting their technology. Expansion into new markets is therefore quite a challenge.

“What they can do is migrate from one technology to something better. It is something we do, but we acknowledge that it is a difficult decision to make. However, we can achieve compliance for any given country very quickly because of the flexibility of our platform.”

Finally, Fried revealed that BtoBet is waiting for the buzz to subside in the US, where the PASPA repeal brought about a frenzied fight for first mover advantage in May of last year.

“There is a rush, but there’s no product at the moment,” he explained. “We are waiting for the market to mature a little bit so operators fully appreciate what we can give to them. 

“I think a lot of the earliest adopters will either fail or take just a small part of the business because they will adopt the European experience in the US. 

“When this buzz dies down, operators will be more knowledgeable about what tools they need to be successful in this market which is more advanced than its European counterparts in terms of UX, and the way technology transfer this UX. It is completely different from other jurisdictions in terms of entertainment and the betting experience itself.” 

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