Steven Valentine – Comtrade: Platform Partnerships… A Changing Dynamic

valentine
Steven Valentine

Having been selected by Manila and Isle of Man bookmaker Dafabet as core igaming platform, SBC interviews Steven Valentine Comtrade Director of Interactive Services on the changing partnership dynamic between suppliers and operators.

Valentine details how platform customisation and flexible infrastructures are leading operators’ supplier demands, as the industry moves away from standalone turnkey solutions.

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SBC: Hi Steven, congrats on Comtrade winning the Dafabet igaming account. Can you describe in detail to SBC Readers Comtrade iCore’s provisions and services? What separates the Comtrade system from its competitors in the igaming sector?

Steven Valentine: The deal with Dafabet is to provide them with a complete enterprise level back-end gaming platform, and to be their long-term strategic partner in this area. Over the last couple of years, there has been a significant growth in the number of platform vendors in the market – all seemingly having very similar offerings. At one time a truly open platform wasn’t that easy to find, but this is now standard from most vendors. So without a deep dive into the real architecture of platforms, it can be extremely difficult distinguishing between them. What really sets Comtrade gaming apart from the competition is our flexibility. We have been involved in the gaming industry for 15 years, 10 years of which were focused solely on outsourced software development to some of largest vendors and operators in the industry. This development culture means that we can be very flexible with our own products, customisations can be done very quickly, and every deployment of iCore is adapted to specific customer needs.

SBC: 2015 was a year adjustment for igaming/betting operators, and which was caused by multiple regulatory changes. Amid these market conditions, what factors and dynamics have now become critical to the relationship between operators and platform/services suppliers?

SV: Operators today can no longer rely on one set of infrastructure to serve many different countries that are just localised on a website level. Regulatory requirements mean that each country has specific requirements, whether that means having servers located in a certain location, player data being connected to a vault, or a completely different technology stack for a certain market. Turnkey hosted suppliers struggle in this area the most, typically they are only licenced in few countries and are not easily able to adapt the technology to meet the requirements of other countries.  Time to market can be key in the success in some of these countries, and so platform suppliers have to be agile enough to meet the ever-changing regulatory demands.

SBC: Entering 2016, all operators are placing a higher focus on building more efficient and intelligent processes, as a gaming solutions provider how has this factor affected your services development and strategy?

SV: Comtrade origins are in other industries like Telco and Finance, where process optimization has been part of our offering for more than two decades. We have brought this expertise into the gaming industry, and so we are typically selected by enterprise operators that put more emphasis on process efficiency. Technology plays an important role in this transformation – integrating solutions that enable an operator’s staff to manage their business efficiently is a key element for overall business success.

SBC: Standardisation and uniformity are still major criticisms of igaming operators. Looking at the supplier and operator partnership, how can this factor be tackled effectively to create unique products?

SV: There is no straightforward solution to this. Every operator wants to be able to offer all the same content that everyone else has, and obviously, every vendor wants to sell their content to every operator. Even at a platform level, any new features that are developed are typically then pushed out to every operator on that platform – certainly in the case where operators are on hosted shared environments. The only way to move away from this is to have a strategic partnership with your suppliers. As I mentioned earlier no two deployments of iCore are the same, they all benefit from a common roadmap, but every operator has customisations and functionality that is specific to them.

SBC: Finally, as an industry leader, what industry needs and concerns must be addressed in 2016 to ensure further long-term growth and progress?

SV: A few years ago I would start answering this question separately for the online and land-based sides of the industry, but today it seems that we are again talking about one industry that entertains our clients via multiple channels. There are still specifics that you have to master well on both sides. However, the operators that manage to address players needs well across all their products and channels will see more success in the future. Player acquisition is too expensive to simplyjust wait and see how many players will still keep playing after their initial deposit is lost. Building a loyal player base, with a continuous retention strategy is a very important step towards a more robust and profitable operation. We are trying to address this need with our platforms that enable operators to constantly improve their business with innovations driven by accurate past and predictive analytics.

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