Despite a global shift towards delivering a wider digital product portfolio, retail will always play a major role in this industry writes NSoft’s Senior VP for Sales and Marketing, Ivan Rozić.
Ahead of ICE London, Rozic explained to SBC the key components that make NSoft stand out from the competition, and how it has placed further global expansion high on the agenda for 2020.
SBC: A big part of NSoft’s recent strategy has been to expand the company across a number of new markets – how successful has this been?
IR: At this point, we have our products running all the way from Sri Lanka to Peru so I would say it has been going well. In total, we are present in over 35 countries worldwide and we plan to reach 50 by the end of this year.
In order to be even more efficient, we now have our people located in Asia, Africa and South America which makes communication and the quality of our services much better for our partners.
SBC: Some of this expansion has taken you to lesser known areas of the gambling world, for example Bosnia and Herzegovina and Costa Rica; can you explain how you decide upon where to base offices and launch new products?
IR: When deciding where to base offices we are following the people rather than market attractiveness. I would always vote in favor of an experienced and skilled employee based in a less interesting market than a weak candidate in a top-performing market. This was certainly the case for Costa Rica where we are setting up a strong team of people who will be based in Costa Rica but will definitely be traveling across the continent. As for Bosnia and Herzegovina – you cannot choose your birthplace!
As for new areas in which we launch our products, we obviously target regulated markets and we prefer territories in which virtual games are allowed and the retail channel is strong. This takes time and resources but it is usually paid back with dividends. NSoft’s forte is retail, and we do our very best to simplify this complex channel for our partners through our one-stop-shop solutions for sportsbook and virtual games. Luckily for us, retail betting is growing in most markets worldwide and despite the common opinion that online is the future I strongly believe retail will always play a major role in this industry.
SBC: Staying with your product suite, what is the key component behind your success? How can you differentiate yourself from the competition, for both mature or emerging markets?
IR: If it has to boil down to one key component, then it’s hard work. Average age within NSoft is 30 years old which shows that we are a young collective eager to prove ourselves as a tier one provider within the industry. And for the last 10 years, we had to make up for our youth (some would say inexperience) with hard work and dedication. This brought us projects and partners that are definitely proving we are doing something right.
In terms of our products, our unique values are number based virtual games, our sportsbook solution for the retail channel and our highly flexible platform at the heart of our every product. The number-based virtual games are a major revenue stream for betting operators that are allowed to place this product in shops and online but I believe it is also the future for any lottery business which has future business in mind. The average lottery player is evolving as we speak, and the 3-5 minute rounds that our virtual games provide are much more suitable for the fast-paced lifestyle the average lottery player is living.
The sportsbook solution for retail allows mid-size and large betting operators to bring the technology used in their shops into 2020. Most of these businesses were set up some 30-40 years ago and are still relying on technology that is well out of date. What NSoft can provide are pre-match and in-play betting turnkey solutions powered by Seven platform which gives you full control of your shops. I believe that references such as Fortuna, Superbet and Balkanbet prove the quality of our retail sportsbook solution.
The platform beneath both our virtual games portfolio and our sportsbook suite of products is called Seven and it is truly omnichannel and fully scalable. Device management through the back office, cash flow tracking and reporting, full remote control of SSBTs, product configuration and distribution through back-office and much more is available through allowing you the tools you need to focus on the business instead of the operative hassles of retail.
SBC: How important can NSoft’s Vision AI software be for an operator to meet responsible gambling guidelines? And where are you seeing most pick up for this product?
IR: Vision is a facial recognition solution. With that said, I believe every reader will instantly come up with dozens of use cases and applications of such a solution. The trick with this, as with any other new technology, is finding solutions that actually work!
We have planned and developed Vision carefully over the course of a few years, and now we have a production-ready solution that is already in use in collaboration with some of our partners. The most common use cases we are facing with, at this point, is detection of under aged people in betting shops, improving customer experience in casinos by recognizing and approving entry to existing customers much faster, keeping banned and unwanted players away from betting shops and casinos and getting deep insight on your shops by creating heat-maps and keeping track of unique visits per each shop.
It goes without saying that with current and new features that are coming up soon, such as emotional recognition, Vision is becoming more and more interesting to organizations outside of the igaming industry.
We are currently in discussions with several commercial banks, a few government institutions and companies from totally unrelated industries. This proves that the applications of Vision are vast and that there is a real need for such a solution.
Finally, I have to address the always present question of privacy concerns and GDPR. Yes, Vision is scanning and documenting faces of people that enter your retail locations. And, no, it can not be selective in terms of who it scans and who it does not scan. Of course it is not legal to use this kind of technology in certain ways but if your only intention is improving security for customers in your igaming business, you will not be breaking any current privacy regulation in most countries worldwide.
Fear of facial recognition is very similar to the fear that people had about relational databases back in the 1980s which has been addressed and resolved through building trust in the systems using these technologies. I believe the use of facial recognition will get to the same point that relative databases are now fairly quickly.
SBC: Are there any other key product innovations that we should be keeping an eye on?
IR: Three things are worth highlighting:
1. Vision – this will be self-explanatory to anyone who visits our stand (S1-260) during one of the three days so I would kindly invite you to come and see the evolution of this groundbreaking solution.
2. Prematch Self Managed application – this solution provides you with a brand new engine for your business machine. Designed and built for sportsbook businesses which want and need to control their own risk and have their own dedicated trading team. The solution provides support for multiple feeds, it allows custom event creation, gives you advanced risk management tools and is user-friendly for both traders and the players themselves.
3. Facelifting on virtual games – our virtual racing games are getting a facelift and it is beautiful to see the evolution of the games themselves. Apart from that, we will be showcasing a few new virtual games such as Virtual Penalty Shootout and Virtual Drag Races. If these three things fail to motivate you to visit us, then please, by all means, drop by for a drink anytime and check out what AI thinks on how old you are.