“We use and invent innovative technologies to provide high-end software products to businesses in the iGaming industry and bring online casino to a new level,” said SoftSwiss CEO Ivan Montik.
Many Bitcoin casinos and betting platforms are now powered by the leader in Bitcoin casino software, SoftSwiss. I had the chance to have a dialogue with him, and he shared insightful stories, opinions, and revelations about his casino software and the Bitcoin gambling market.
SoftSwiss is popular among operators and players. What inspired this business?
We’ve been operating in the area of IT since 2008, initially as an outsourcing company and then as a product company focused on the online auction platform. Solid programming background and availability of the highly qualified developers in Belarus (where SoftSwiss back office is located) left not much choice but to further expand into the IT product sphere. Why gaming? Again, in Belarus we’ve come across very profound knowledge of online gambling technologies in the programmers’ community. This together with the speedy growth of the iGaming market became the decisive factors in pursuing this business initiative.
But it wasn’t made for the Bitcoin gaming market, right? How did you enter the Bitcoin community, then?
Our casino platform was introduced to the public in February 2013 at ICE in London. Right after that we started getting requests for a casino website which would accept Bitcoin. So we began to work on our Bitcoin casino solution which included a deeper investigation of the technology, implementing safe payment processing, adapting the games, and development of the anti-fraud system. The first Bitcoin casino on our platform was launched in the summer of 2013. In just one year we’ve made such a great progress and have practically become leaders on the Bitcoin casino software market.
How was the process like of incorporating Bitcoin to your business?
We followed the development of Bitcoin from the beginning of 2012. My partner and me were inspired by the nature of Bitcoin, by the fact it is completely unregulated and decentralized, and by its rapid growth. The world economy was really lacking something of the kind. Even at the time when 1 BTC cost just a few cents, we believed in its future and started thinking how we can use it in the business we were doing. Gambling appeared to be more than suitable for implementing Bitcoin technology. At that time Satoshi Dice was launched and several other projects of this type but no traditional online casino offered gambling on bitcoin.
With SoftSwiss already accepting Bitcoin, will we see more supported cryptocurrencies?
We already are supporting Litecoin, Dogecoin, Peercoin, and are working on some other altcoins integration. Casinos operating with our platform accept these currencies. We are open for integration of any new cryptocurrency as long as it’s feasible and seems to be able to generate additional profit for our clients.
All right. SoftSwiss is facing tough competition as more software supporting Bitcoin now offer their services. What features of SoftSwiss would you consider the best and revolutionary?
We are a relatively small team of 35 people who managed to create a quality product in just a couple of years which is already well known on the market and appreciated for the beautiful design of mobile-friendly games and innovative Bitcoin payment processing involving no third-party tools or services.
In terms of the technology, we offer some unique features the most important of which are our anti-fraud system and provably fair games. The anti-fraud system helps mitigate the risks connected to the irreversible payments – the main feature of Bitcoin. It detects suspicious wins and automatically blocks pay outs in case of player’s fraudulent actions. A recent example: a player won more than 2000 BTC at our client’s casino and was trying to cash it out, but the system timely detected the case of fraud and refused withdrawal.
Provability is another important feature and a competitive advantage of our casinos. It is present in many Satoshi Dice type of games but not in the traditional casino. It took us time to develop the technology and make our games provably fair so that now players can verify that the result of their game was a mixture of the pre-generated random number and their own input, nothing changed by the casino.
I’m sure before you reach success, a few hiccups popped out along the way. So, what has been the most surprising challenge in working in SoftSwiss?
It was a challenge to educate our partners (banks, game content providers and other software suppliers) about Bitcoin, explain the great potential of the cryptocurrency and overcome their skepticism. Large organizations are less flexible and very cautious about trying new things – it is very time and resource consuming to implement a new technology and change your standard workflow. But the world is changing, and you need to adapt to the new trends, otherwise you’ll be out. I’m glad we’ve been able to persuade our partners to cooperate in the Bitcoin sphere, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Another challenge is people management. You believe that your company is wonderful, but then an employee leaves, and your whole workflow is stuck. So we’ve been struggling to create a strong team and learnt how to motivate our employees to stay in the company and work on creating the best product in the world.
How about the setbacks you and the business have encountered in the past?
With the software, you can never be 100% sure it works without an error. In the gambling, each minor defect of the software can cost lots of money. Having encountered several attempts of fraud by players, we realized the need for improving our anti-fraud system. Now it works really efficiently and mitigates the major part of casino risks related to unfaithful play.
Having dealt with some unhappy clients in the past, we also learnt how to be more flexible and provide a better service. Better service doesn’t always mean implementing every new feature the customer asks for, but speaking to the customer and seeing how the actual need can be met within the available functionality. The core thing is that we are developing a product, not a custom application, so we learn to make clients happy following our own development road map.
Let’s talk about the latest events that affect Bitcoin and Bitcoin gambling. Do you think Bitcoin will be more stable in the future?
Bitcoin will be the leading global currency. California has recently legalized Bitcoin – a huge step of the United States towards recognition of the cryptocurrency which I am sure other states will soon follow. As Assemblyman Roger Dickinson mentioned, “in an era of evolving payment methods, from Amazon Coins to Starbucks Stars, it is impractical to ignore the growing use of cash alternatives.” I completely agree.
How about the gambling laws and cryptocurrency regulation and legality? What are your thoughts?
Legislation in the area of cryptocurrencies is very immature and there are a lot of lacunas. This makes the life of start ups difficult. Even those who have enough investment capital and vast experience in gambling are discouraged because of the ambiguity of regulation. They are sometimes stuck as there are no clear answers as to the legality of betting for crypto currencies. On the other hand, it provides operators with additional opportunities. Since some countries have legalized Bitcoin, there’s always a possibility to find a legal way of operation.
Indeed. So do you see a lot of demand for Bitcoin casino platforms right now?
Yes, the demand is very high and the interesting fact is that it is not that much influenced by the exchange rate fluctuations (though it was a real boom at the end of last year when Bitcoin reached 1000 – 1200 USD). We had 15 clients in the set up phase simultaneously, tough but very motivating.
SoftSwiss is becoming more in-demand in the Bitcoin gambling market. Can you share some of the recent or greatest accomplishments you have had in this business?
Our greatest accomplishment so far is the launch of an online casino for Princess Casinos International, a huge network of land-based casinos operating worldwide. It was a big honor to win the deal (as the choice of software providers eager to work with Princess is vast) and a challenge to meet the client’s requirements in every aspect. We are now working very closely with the client to provide a complete operational infrastructure and build a long-lasting partnership. One of the plans is to add Bitcoin to the available payment options and make Princess Star the biggest network operating with cryptocurrencies. However, our major accomplishments are still to come.
That is such an accomplishment—one that makes you more excited about what SoftSwiss can still offer. Say in two years, where do you see SoftSwiss, and what about your long-term plans?
In two years, SoftSwiss will be the leader in Bitcoin and white label casino turnkey solutions. Our long-term plan is to become Playtech in the world of Bitcoin gambling.
Any plan of expanding soon?
Our main idea is to expand it terms of the product and grow the number of clients but not the number of employees. I strongly believe that with the proper working process in place, you don’t need to grow your development department but can efficiently work with the core team to enhancing the product and launching new websites. We might need a larger client support department in the future, though.
As for the other projects, we are now starting to actively promote our other product which also partially related to gaming – online auction platform. It is successfully operated by a number of clients but needs some more aggressive marketing to become a leader in the fast growing market. We are working on it right now.
You mentioned more products, so is it safe to expect more for the Bitcoin gambling market?
More beautiful mobile games to offer, more prominent casinos launched, new ideas on Bitcoin and new partnerships. We already work with Microgaming, Amatic and Ezugi, offering their games to casinos operating with our platform, and we are planning to integrate with further game content providers so that operators can offer a wider choice of games to their players.
We’re definitely looking forward to that. Before we end this, though, what advice can you give other similar casino software that have just started?
Research on what the industry already has to offer, put all the best things in your product and add innovation. You need some unique offering to stand out among the competition. Another important thing I’ve already mentioned: be flexible with your clients, especially in the very beginning, but mind your own development plans. Otherwise it’s easy to turn from a product company into an outsourcing company.
I’m sure startups will take not of that advice. With that, thank you, Ivan, for this opportunity and we will certainly watch out for more innovations from SoftSwiss.