Alan Alden founded Kyte Consultants Ltd in 2006 together with Trevor Axiak and began specializing in remote gaming and payment card industry. Alan is currently the director of Kyte.
Dear Alan, imagine a world where one hasn’t heard of your company, despite your 20-year history in the industry. How would you explain your mission, especially in the iGaming world?
Our company was originally setup to assist with the licencing process with the MGA (then the LGA) and also to audit on behalf of the MGA. The industry has evolved considerably since then and we have adapted by creating service lines to satisfy the ever-growing needs of iGaming operators, but also other regulated entities and entities required to comply with specific standards such as PCI DSS, PSD2, ISO 27001. So we adapted based on customers’ needs. Our mission is to be the go-to company whenever compliance is required. In short Kyte = Compliance.
You have gathered a stellar team of professionals. What are you looking for when hiring someone to join?
We have employed ready professionals who saw that with Kyte they could expand their knowledge and skills. But we have also employed people with a desire to become professionals in our service areas. Kyte is committed to continuously train and educate its staff not only academically but also to build up their inter-personal skills. In the service industry dealing with people is a key part of the business. Therefore, our staff have to be knowledgeable, professional but just as important they must be able to interact with customers, listen to them, respond to their needs, whilst remaining professional. It’s not easy and not everyone succeeds, but it’s how we want our people to be.
How has the current situation affected you and your clients? Have you noticed any changes so far?
It hasn’t been a very difficult transition to be honest. We are fortunate that we constantly work remotely with our clients, everyone has his own laptop and we all know how to use VPNs, have printers and scanners, and those who didn’t have bought them. We also allow individual staff to go to the office if absolutely necessary. We started working remotely from the 16th March as the health of our staff is very important to us and we wanted them to work comfortably without worrying about getting the virus. We are also fortunate that compliance is not something that a regulated entity can opt out of, so demand for our services has remained constant.
Tell us more about your educational initiatives during the COVID-19 crisis.
We have increased some courses and improved others on our e-learning platform. The demand has increased as people are taking this lull in business to improve their knowledge on various compliance subjects. You can do the online courses from the comfort of your home, at your own time and pace and see how much you’ve understood by taking a mini exam at the end. In the past 2 weeks we have added Responsible Gaming Awareness, Internal Audit awareness and we have also upgraded our information security awareness course. We also offer AML/CFT, GDPR, secure coding and PCI DSS awareness courses. All our courses are aimed at compliance issues.
How does “Compliance matters” help the iGaming industry?
This magazine was the idea and dream of Ella and we backed her 100% as we believed in the project. We managed to get the contributions of major players in the regulated markets and also relevant regulators and Authorities. The magazine was the next logical step after our series of Compliance events that were very well received. There is a space in the market for dedicated compliance publications and we hope that Compliance Matters has filled in that gap. We are pleased that the quality of the articles is high and they explore different solutions for complying with responsible gambling, fraud and AML, information also about products targeting specific information security requirements. It’s not only iGaming that we tackle but also other regulated industries as most of the compliance obligations are very similar. And we do it for free, awareness and sharing information about compliance matters is our primary objective not money.
What should we expect from your virtual conference in May 2020?
First of all, something totally different in how it is presented both for our attendees, our presenters and the organisers. Hopefully, the technology works on the day! We always try to provide the audience with challenges on how to approach compliance and new solutions as well as regulatory expectations. Our approach is well received as we provide innovative ideas, state of fact matters, regulators’ views, all of which compliance officers don’t find anywhere else in such a focused manner. And we do it for free as money is not our objective. But we must thank Western Union who have sponsored the whole event for us and previous sponsors who make it possible for us to offer these conferences for free.
In your opinion, which market is the 1st to “recover” or stand still in front of the current situation? Do you think Asian market will show the path?
It seems that online gaming where online casino and/or non-sport related products such as poker, bingo are offered have not been negatively affected. Some operators have even recorded increased revenues. However, sportsbooks have taken a huge hit and any area in the world will not be able to recover until the main leagues are back playing and there are events to bet on. There has been a rush to include virtual games in the portfolio of offerings, but it’s not the same thing.
Why do you think that iGaming industry is getting late in adapting blockchain and crypto, even if they see the benefits and opportunities as of 2020?
Crypto or VFAs are seen by many to create more problems than solutions due to the stigma around ‘crypto’ and also the heavy fluctuations in the price. With regards to blockchain, it may be a good solution for a back office however not for the games themselves. History has taught us that change is slow when it comes to back office solutions as they are complex, trusted, and migration can be very painful. Change will come but slowly.
How do you see the position of the Regulator in handling blockchain solutions?
The MDIA is responsible for Disruptive and Innovative technologies and blockchain is seen to be such a technology. The fact that there is an Authority specifically to handle this is a step in the right direction. We must always distinguish between blockchain which is a technology and crypto or VFA which is the virtual currency. Two different things and risks are totally different.
What is the next BIG thing in iGaming, in your opinion?
eSports seems to be oil crisis and virus crisis resistant and available 24 X 7 X 365 and online. With better internet and mobile connectivity live streaming will continue to improve and make the tournaments easily available and viewable from whatever device wherever you are. We are seeing suppliers now specialize in esports content feeds, software being designed specifically for esports betting, and customers focused on esports betting. The younger generation would be the main customers and also players!! It’s the future of online betting. For casino type games, well 3D seemed to be a big buzz. However, although it is quite an experience going through a lobby with slots and tables in 3D is it what the gambler wants? We have seen similar attempts at improving the experience fail miserably in poker, where the players just want opponents and a fast platform. In the end it’s not what we believe is possible and looks fantastic, it’s what the customers want that needs to be provided and understood. Some operators are designing games after analysing particular game play in specific markets and then using that data to make games. Taking game design to a completely new direction and era, and the results look very positive.
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