Nigerian bookmaker Nairabet has just signed a long-term deal with betting systems supplier OPTIMA to power its bookmaking operations. CEO Akin Alabi and OPTIMA CEO Jacob Lopez Curciel took time out to answer some questions about the deal.
SBC: How are Nairabet and OPTIMA working together? What is the extent of your partnership?
Akin Alabi: OPTIMA will be powering all our operations. Mobile, retail and call centre. We needed a very powerful provider to cater for our growing needs, and after a careful analysis of the major providers out there, we opted for OPTIMA.
Jacob Lopez Curciel: OPTIMA is proud to be the partner who supplies Nairabet with their main gaming platform for Sports Betting and Gaming, for all their channels Web, Mobile, Call Centre and Retail.
With tens of third party suppliers integrated into the main platform and with worldwide scope. Nairabet.com runs on OPTIMA Multichannel Gaming Suite platform and is fully rolled out on Mobile and Web since early October, with retail following up shortly.
How did the deal come about? Has it been in the pipeline for some time?
AA: I carried out my personal investigations about them for three months before formally contacting them. I asked for independent reviews, and I was impressed by the feedback I got. We signed the deal after about a month.
JLC: The deal was discussed back in December 2015 and was inked end of January. After eight months of collaboration and hard work, we have managed to successfully deliver for Nairabet’s team one of the most powerful multi-channel platforms in the market which aggregates tens of services on centralised management for multiple channels.
SBC: Just last week Nairabet has been linked to a different retail supplier in the betting industry – what is the relationship there?
AA: We signed a contract with OPTIMA to power our online and retail operations, and nothing has changed. We continuously work with different products suppliers to see what they can add to what we have but when it comes to the engine running Nairabet, it’s OPTIMA all the way.
SBC: What makes OPTIMA/Nairabet such a good partner?
AA: I was a bit sceptical about their ability to adapt their products to fit the Nigerian market. For example, the internet is not so perfect here in Nigeria, but they responded by creating a lighter version of the mobile page for us to cater for those with “not so smart phones” and 2G Internet. That shows how responsive and flexible they are.
JLC: OPTIMA runs a well-known strategy of working with major organisations requiring a technology partner that will satisfy the continuous demands of new technologies and product delivery in the SportsBetting and Gaming market.
Nairabet is the right partner for OPTIMA for many reasons, they have a clear approach to business, with a clear strategy and line of work which OPTIMA believes is a winner for the coming years. OPTIMA product and team flexibility will permit Nairabet reacting quickly to market challenges and demands in their leading position.
SBC: How important is the multi-channel approach in Nigeria? How are retail and online customers converging?
AA: Retail is bigger than online in Nigeria regarding the volume of transactions. Nigeria is a huge country of about 200 million people, and with shops and kiosks in many corners, the volume of bet transactions is naturally high. But I believe that in the next five years, online would take over. Operators are already groaning over the cost of running retail and other logistics. Smart operators must find ways to convert their retail customers online, and I believe OPTIMA is a great partner to have to achieve this.
JLC: For OPTIMA, it is a key strategy, not only in Nigeria, in Africa in general, but also in other countries where we offer converged channels since 2014 using our Retail2Web systems, that including UK and Ireland of course.
Retailers need to have a flexible platform that allows new ways to increase the profit in-venues and require to have a powerful online presence to compete with born-in-internet companies that only focus on the online market. Products like OPTIMA Retail2Web and OPTIMA iSHOP address both, bringing in play betting to retail venues and connecting online and retail worlds under a single platform.
SBC: Will the Africa Cup of Nations still be a big event even though Nigeria didn’t qualify?
AA: No it will not be a big event especially when it comes to sports betting. I have a saying that Nigerians are not crazy about football in general. Rather they are crazy about the teams they choose they support.
A typical Arsenal fan in Nigeria will rather watch Arsenal vs. Woking in the Carling Cup than watch the El Clasico. So because Nigeria will not be going, I don’t expect too much enthusiasm from Nigerians.
Akin Alabi – CEO – Nairabet
Jacob Lopez Curciel – CEO – OPTIMA