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IN-DEPTH 26 November 2018
A More Stable Crypto Future

Crypto-currency and blockchain are in the early stages of a potentially transformative global technological movement. Although in their infancy, the significance of their impact has already begun to emerge.

By Hayato Terai, Co-CEO of GanaEight Coin Ltd
The benefits of crypto-currency are indisputable. Speed and ease of transaction, as well as lower fees, are obvious initial attractions for merchants and users alike. The transparent, decentralised nature of crypto, thanks to the underlying blockchain technology, is another key advantage – all transactions are tracked digitally upon the distributed public ledger in a permanent and traceable way.

Being an early adopter of cryptocurrency-enabling DLT can also put a business in a position of advantage, as one is able to observe technological advancements and lead the way in further innovative developments. This is evidenced by the countless industries now competing to implement blockchain technology in a variety of inventive ways unrelated to its initial virtual asset-related purpose.

Healthcare is one of the many sectors beginning to recognise the potential power blockchain technology could bring. The technology could offer a secure way of recording and sharing sensitive patient information, as well as a way of avoiding data breaches. While many healthcare providers accept the implementation of this will be hugely beneficial, the current lack of understanding about the technology itself means it is yet to be adopted on a wider scale.

Crypto-currency is in a similar position. Its benefits are widely acknowledged, yet it is still shrouded in uncertainty and met with caution. Despite its evident perks, crypto-currency is still viewed by many as being somewhat suspicious. This belief most likely comes not only from its slightly dubious beginnings from within the dark web, but also from the fact a significant number of countries are still reluctant to regulate it. This is not the case for pioneer of crypto and blockchain technology, Malta, which made history this year as the first jurisdiction to establish a regulatory framework for both.

While Malta might be steaming ahead towards a blockchain-based future, the rest of the world is still lagging behind. The widespread adoption of crypto-currencies, which has been anticipated for some years now, is still far from being realised. Their current lack of utilisation on a large scale is due to a number of factors. The main ones are the regulatory uncertainty still surrounding them and the simple fact traditional payment methods currently surpass digital payment methods in terms of convenience and practicality.

On top of this, the unstable nature of conventional crypto-currencies such as bitcoin, caused by their dramatically fluctuating price, means they are too volatile to be regarded as “money.” This fluctuating price, determined by its varying supply and demand in the marketplace, creates an element of risk for those considering investing, or using them – the volatility that comes with crypto-currencies is making many companies hesitant to adopt them as a form of payment.

Whereas conventional crypto-currencies pose problems in terms of practical everyday use, stablecoins theoretically offer a solution for this. Pegged to a secure, external asset,the stablecoin is able to hold a stable value over time. The most common type of stablecoin has a value equating that of a fiat currency, often the US Dollar – its price is able to remain fixed since it represents the corresponding amount held in reserve as collateral.

So, while they are crypto-currencies in the sense they offer security and decentralised control, they also aim to mimic the stability of fiat currencies and do away with the volatility traditional crypto-currencies can’t avoid. The stablecoin is essentially a stepping stone between fiat and crypto-currencies.

The stablecoin concept is a simple one which is understandably appealing to investors.The adoption of a stable, decentralised digital currency could in turn accelerate the adoption of crypto-currencies in general, along with that of blockchain technology – although such results may not be visible in the immediate future. Banks and financial institutions, in particular, are proving eager to get on board, as the stablecoin represents an innovative way to improve the efficiency of operations. At the same time, it does not differ enough from current, conventional methods to cause significant disruption.

It is still early days for the stablecoin, so it is naturally facing challenges. Its successful implementation, however, could fill a much-needed gap and bring us one step closer to a more stable, functional future for crypto-currency.

GanaEight Coin Ltd, a Ganapati Group company, is looking to be the first to utilise both blockchain technology and online gaming expertise to produce a game-changing casino stablecoin, the G8C. The G8C token represents an innovative and secure way of bridging the gap between virtual assets and the casino industry. Come and meet Ganapati and G8C on Stand P313 at SiGMA 2018.

IN-DEPTH 4 September 2019
Virtual reality: Creating next-gen experiences for players

Singular CEO George Shamugia discusses a new revenue stream for casino operators

The competition in online gaming is intensifying, with players becoming more and more demanding. In some markets, single-customer acquisition costs can reach up to €400 ($440) alongside growing churn rates. Furthermore, the online gaming sector struggles to attract one of the most lucrative groups of players – millennials. The experience provided by casinos no longer appeals to the younger generation.

On  the other hand, the video gaming industry perfectly understands the needs of millennials and by introducing elements of luck in their games offers the best of both worlds. With the launch of loot box systems and Grand Theft Auto’s in-game casino, we have seen their first successful steps in targeting the online gaming sector. GTA V online, with 33 million active players, recently opened an in-game casino, where players gamble real money on games such as poker, roulette, slots, etc. As a result, churn users returned and GTA Online reached the highest number of active players since its launch in 2013.

The online gaming industry has almost fully utilised the potential of the mobile medium. The time has come to look for new, innovative ways of delivering a next-gen experience to customers.

The potential of VR

Could the next big thing for online gaming be a fully fledged virtual reality (VR) casino delivering an immersive experience and limitless new opportunities?

Although not widely adopted yet, VR has a sizable number of customers. Analysts predict it’s poised for explosive growth to become mainstream in about five years. According to market intelligence firms, the VR market will be worth $117bn by 2022, and according to Juniper Research bets made through VR will reach $520 billion by 2021. Upcoming 5G mobile network technology will propel VR’s mass adoption by allowing the development of fully portable untethered and affordable VR headsets.

Different level of social interaction

The captivating nature of gambling comes from its social aspect. Unfortunately, personal interaction is widely missing from online gambling sites. VR technology creates multiple opportunities to bring back and even enhance that social moment. The ability to connect with other players is one of the main reasons behind Fortnite’s popularity. This form of co-experience is the next generation of entertainment. Research conducted by Facebook has found participants spend more time on VR compared to any other medium. This directly translates into increased profits for casinos.

Pokerstars has made efforts in this direction by implementing Voice UI. Instead of using hand controllers to make a call, pass, or raise, players give voice commands.

Another opportunity for bringing in the social element are the players’ avatars. They enable players to build their identity reflected in the avatars’ appearance, but also the avatar's social, competitive and community status. For instance, players are willing to pay real money for virtual drinks at the bar. Operators can offer these social touchpoints for free to VIP customers as an act of appreciation.

VR also brings a new dimension to customer support. Customer support can also be represented with avatars to assist the player in person. The social moment increases the LTV of players and contributes towards lower churn rates.

Rethinking game design

VR is a way more capable medium than a 2D mobile or desktop screen. Instead of copying the existing online experience, games must be redesigned from the ground up for a competitive advantage with VR. For example, a VR slot game can become fully immersive by teleporting the user into the slots’ world of Ancient Egypt. Next, enrich the experience with high-fidelity graphics, realistic spatial sounds and animations. When betting on virtual race cars, the user can be teleported inside the car he/she made a bet on and experience the race firsthand.

New revenue streams

VR casino lobbies create new revenue stream opportunities: ad placement of brands on the venue walls, company logos decorating the bar etc. This kind of branding is not intrusive in the VR space and feels natural from the user's perspective. VR also gives users the ability to change venues from a Las Vegas casino today, to Macau or even Mars casino, the very next day. The dynamic and diverse experience increases retention rates.

The majority of profits for online gaming operators come from their high-roller players. Although they represent a small subset of active players, an operator can launch a separate VR casino brand for them. Providing exclusive VR gaming experiences to high rollers/VIPs, the operator can minimise churn and maximise VR efforts for these player demographics.

The catch with VR is to focus on quality, rather than scale. The target audience might be limited yet, once these players experience it, they will become ambassadors for your offering.

Surely, the opportunities and possibilities offered by the VR medium truly exceed anything offered by mobile and desktop. VR is a new frontier not just for gaming but for every industry, and it’s exciting to see where it takes the industry and what kind of innovation it brings upon us.