Cloudbet: the crypto conundrumBy Lewis - 6 July 2020
G3 interviews Cloudbet, the bitcoin sportsbook and casino operator, about the challenges of growing a bitcoin gaming brand, betting on esports with cryptocurrency and catering to crypto’s evangelists and pragmatists. We began by asking about Cloudbet’s recent relaunch of its site.
The premise of the relaunch is to boost performance and usability. Speed stands out as a substantial improvement. We want the new site to be the fastest experience a customer has ever had betting online. And it is not just about how quick it is on the device; it is also about how efficient it feels to the user.
The aim is to predict what the user might want to see next and make sure it is preloaded and available for them immediately. The user should never be waiting for the device. Before a user hits the next button, the platform starts to predict what they do next and works in the background to prepare. Whilst a customer is reading the page and deciding what to tap on, the next page is pre-prepared so that when they tap it, there is zero wait time.
There are also user interface and usability improvements that we have made, such as process enhancements like bet with two clicks. After all, you want the experience for the customer to be as intuitive as possible. However, speed remains at the core, driving everything: you want the customer to be able to get there as quickly as possible. Other key aspects include personalisation and localisation. We can now create products tailored to customers from Japan to Brazil with a vast range of languages available.
How do you delineate between Bitcoin players and traditional bettors using fiat? What are the challenges in growing a Bitcoin gaming brand?
We can clearly articulate the difference from fiat currency with zero payment processing fees, the speed of payments and withdrawals, and the fact that all that is universal or global. We can give the customer better pricing than fiat-currency operators are able to because they must pay for payment processing, alongside other considerations like charge backs. We save all that money because we do not have to spend on those things.
So, the key points of differentiation are, firstly, better prices for the customer. In sports, that means better odds. In casino, that means better promotions because we can spend more on them. Secondly, speed of payment. Customers receive withdrawals very quickly, thanks to blockchain technology.
How do you see Bitcoin and crypto gambling evolving over the coming years and what steps are in place to ensure you evolve with that changing demand?
If we talk about the future of crypto gaming, the way to speak about it is in terms of viewing two key segments: crypto evangelists and crypto pragmatists. Crypto evangelists all have very deep and important philosophical views on their specific assets and the differences between them. Crypto pragmatists are maybe growing as a proportion, while the difference between currencies is not that important, it is a means to an end. They just want a convenient tool which they can use that suits their demands.
Do we plan to add additional currencies? Yes – to stay relevant to both these segments. We would like to resonate with the evangelists more in their specific way, speak their language, embrace the things they believe in and join their ecosystems. Alternatively, pragmatists need a tool that fits their needs – either in the same currency they are earning or the currency in which they hold their assets.
It is important to note that everything is not just about commercial opportunities with customers. Our philosophical beliefs make us part of this community and are the reason we entered the space in the first place. We are members of this community too, so have a duty to drive the development of these communities. We were members of the bitcoin community in 2013 when it was small, so it is vital we continue to support its growth.
What was the rationale behind Cloudbet’s recently launched esports vertical?
This is a product that we have been observing and fine-tuning for a while now in order that we could launch with proper precision and confidence. Esports is something we introduced a couple years ago but then put on hold. It was an immature betting market that was difficult to trade, and we did not have the resources to deal with such a high-touch proposition at that point, so we made a business decision to discontinue the product.
Fast forward a couple years and esports has now grown into a massive industry with proper corporate sponsorship and the oversight that comes with that. Market pricing has become much more reliable. So, in the second half of last year, we started to make plans to relaunch esports. As far as markets go, we have a global product that is in its infancy, with a small, but fast-growing, customer base. For now, we are focused on building an audience in esports-friendly markets like Brazil and in Eastern Europe.
How is the Discord channel designed to improve player engagement?
One of the biggest challenges for Cloudbet is building an audience for our product in a competitive market and we are trying to tackle that in a community-driven way through Discord. We want to create an engaged group of users, who are having fun not only with betting, but also by debating and discussing something they are passionate about. Discord is where our players congregate, chat, and become part of the conversation. We want to speak directly to our esports fanatics, in their language, under their rules. We want them to be able to exchange ideas, tips, team-analysis, and share in each other’s collective success.
We hope this is how we can promote more emotional engagement with our esports offering. We are a community-driven company and we want to be speaking with our audience in their playgrounds under their terms of engagement, not ours. We are now members of the esports community and do not want our Discord to become a customer support channel – that is what customer support is for! We want it to be a great place to hang around, grab some promos, make friends, and get betting intel.
What evidence suggests there is a latent demand for betting on esports with cryptocurrency?
There has been a lot mentioned about the size of the esports betting market: Eilers and Krejcik Gaming had forecast the amount to rise to almost $13bn this year, and that’s a prediction made before Covid-19 forced everyone into lockdown. We have seen various anecdotes of how esports and gaming has benefited from people staying at home and entertaining themselves.
There are very robust esports betting numbers because of the sporting shutdowns – and we continue to see good demand, even with European soccer leagues coming back and the resumption of other major sports like tennis in the past few weeks.
In that time, esports have still accounted for a substantial proportion of our sports bets. Our esports fans keep coming back because we combine all the best features that others do not have, like live streaming and in-play betting for all the key matchups. We are optimistic that we will have a long-term viable audience for esports.
How would you like to see the esports offering develop?
We want to see internal growth in esports betting, but it is a tough question to answer. If we see that 15-20 per cent of all our bets are from esports, we will feel some level of success, but that is not a hard target.
It is hard to follow the numbers properly because it is really impacted by what is going on around the world. Whilst it is a tough time, it is also a big opportunity for us to put in some really hard work to create the outcome that Cloudbet is striving for. As for the development of our product, we want it to be user-driven, and this is where we hope our Discord channel will be useful.