Ivan Montik, Founder of SoftSwiss, speaks to Gambling Insider about the company's progress and upcoming goals.
SoftSwiss has been running for over 10 years now - how would you sum up the SoftSwiss journey so far?
It’s been an exciting and challenging journey with ups and downs; not easy but always rewarding, full of obstacles and prizes, and with lifelong learning. When I look back at 2012 when we started working on the SoftSwiss Online Casino Platform, I see how little we knew about the industry and how risky the idea was. All we had were advanced software engineering skills and experience in developing custom projects, so we basically started from scratch. What we have achieved in a bit more than eight years makes me proud of the team and the product. The company has grown to 600+ people and has international presence.
We are working with seven jurisdictions and are expanding to Asia and Africa. In terms of the product portfolio, it has become much more than just an online casino platform. We also have our own affiliate management platform, which can be used as a standalone solution, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, a B2B ecommerce solution based on auction software and over 60 online casino games developed by BGaming, another SoftSwiss brand. We have recently launched our sports betting platform to continue the journey and more new products will be launched this year.
When I look back at 2012 when we started working on the SoftSwiss Online Casino Platform, I see how little we knew about the industry and how risky the idea was. What we have achieved in a bit more than eight years makes me proud of the team and the product
In that time, how much has the online casino industry changed?
The main changes in the online casino industry come from changing player demands. Ten years ago, everyone was playing on a PC, whereas today the bigger part of users have gone mobile and want to place bets and enjoy their favourite games on their phones. To meet the growing mobile gaming demand, software providers have to stay tuned and introduce timely changes to their platforms and games.
Another significant change is the use of cryptocurrency in online gaming. Despite some of the difficulties Bitcoin has faced since the launch of the first Bitcoin casino, blockchain has become part and parcel of online gaming, providing fast and secure payment processing without any third parties involved. No one could imagine that deposits and cash outs could be done so quickly and easily, and with crypto it has become a norm.
One of the drastic changes happening today in our industry is the use of artificial intelligence. Some 10 years ago, operators of online casinos were managing them completely manually, whereas today most of the advanced web sites are powered by AI mechanisms that analyse players behaviour and approach each player individually. From the look and feel of a casino to the set of games and selection of bonuses, an online casino can be customised to your liking. Smart customer care assistants are replacing whole support teams. I’m excited to see what else is to come in the next five years.
What are your aims and goals for future SoftSwiss growth?
Our plan is to go global. We already have offices in Malta and Poland and will soon be represented in Greece and Serbia. In terms of markets, we are already working with many European countries and their regulatory bodies, as well as with Japan and South Korea. We have recently entered Nigeria, the second-largest online gaming market in Africa, and we will keep exploring the continent for more opportunities. Such ambitious plans definitely imply exponential growth and an increase in the number of people employed. We’ll focus on building a strong team and keeping our most valuable asset – SoftSwiss people – happy.
How does SoftSwiss aim to stand out in the market when it comes to product development?
What helps our products stand out in the market is their high quality, which remains our top priority. It is backed up by a strong and reliable team: all of the development is done by Belarusian software engineers, known as the most talented and highly qualified specialists in IT. We are going global in terms of markets and offices, but people remain of the same origin, made in Belarus.
We’ve always tried to keep pace with innovation and to introduce innovation ourselves. That’s how it should stay. Our online casino platform can boast some really unique functionality. For instance, we have developed our own affiliate system platform under the brand Affilka, with an automatic payment module. Now, payments are automatically transferred to the affiliates’ accounts and operators don’t even need to have their own merchant to do the transaction. We are offering it as a standalone solution which can be integrated into a third-party system.
There are many ways to stand out. Our research and development department never stops inventing new ones: it’s a work in progress.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a Judge at the Global Gaming Awards and I look forward to being among other industry experts. For me, it’s more about learning new names and ideas than about judging, but of course I’ll try to give an unbiased opinion and choose initiative and innovation above all
How important is the crypto and Bitcoin side of the business for SoftSwiss?
The unique processing of crypto deposits thanks to the CoinsPaid system integrated into the platform is another way we stand out among the competition. The first Bitcoin casinos appeared in 2013 and SoftSwiss was indeed at the forefront of innovation. Some of the brands that were launched at that time still hold leading positions and are well-known in the sector. Apart from the online casino platform, we are implementing blockchain technology in other projects. We have CoinsPaid, a B2B CryptoProcessing payment gateway and a personal wallet. It’s an important part of our business because it’s a great investment into the future.
Are you looking forward to sharing your iGaming expertise as a new member of the Global Gaming Awards Judging Panel?
I’m thankful for this opportunity and I look forward to being among other industry experts. For me, it’s more about learning new names and ideas than about judging, but of course I’ll try to give an unbiased opinion and choose initiative and innovation above all.
Finally, what are your personal targets as SoftSwiss founder and leader?
I would like online casinos to become part of online entertainment, just like online TV and video game services. Now they are rather put separately and associated with pure gambling, which they have probably inherited from land-based casinos. My aim is to show that online casinos are more about gaming, so we will continue creating that unprecedented gaming experience.