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Coingaming

Online Bingo Life editor Mark McGuinness caught up with Tauri Tiitsaar, the COO of Coingaming.io, a leading platform provider which specializes in the provisioning of Bitcoin cryptocurrency solutions for the iGaming sector. Tauri has been working in the gambling industry for a decade and has direct management experience with all parts of the business having worked in the affiliate, provider and operator environments of the industry.

Bitcoin - how can you best describe the sector for those that are unfamiliar with this new form of currency?

Bitcoin is the most popular of what are commonly referred to as cryptocurrencies or internet based money. The best way to describe it is to think of it as similar to any paper based or fiat currency of pounds, dollars and euros or foreign currency. If you go on holiday to a different country, you need to know how much things cost in that local currency, how to pay for goods and services and where to pay and so forth. With Bitcoin it is very similar but it is a truly global payment method. Firstly you exchange your everyday paper based or fiat currency to Bitcoin, you open or create an online wallet where you can store your bitcoins and then you start making payments in the same way for goods and services.  With the continued usage and adoption of Bitcoin becoming more popular with consumers, you can even get a Bitcoin debit card to make payments in stores, as a large number of retailers now accept Bitcoin as a payment method. 

How large is the Bitcoin industry?

Bitcoin is a large and growing industry. The Bitcoin currency has more users than some country specific fiat or paper based currencies. Each and every person or a company using Bitcoin is directly contributing to increasing awareness by telling their friends or by announcing it through social networks and other forms of digital communication. The usage is increasing every day as people become aware of the numerous benefits over “paper money“. Of course it is not as big as euros or dollars yet but who knows, maybe one day it will happen! I am quite sure that if you ask a few people on the high street they will have heard of Bitcoin or know someone that is using Bitcoin.

What are the benefits of using Bitcoins?

Over the years’ the banking industry and financial sectors have been receiving a lot of negative publicity over how they treat customers with mis-selling scandals, hidden charges, costs and so on.   

Therefore two of the most significant benefits of using Bitcoin by far is that there are either very low fees or no fees involved with the transactions.  Another major benefit is they are fast. For example when you pay a cheque from another bank into your bank, your bank shall often hold that money for several days, because it can’t trust that the funds are really available to credit your account with. Likewise bank or wire transfers can be another process which always takes longer that anticipated for the funds to clear. Bitcoin transactions are far faster and can be instantaneous which means users have access to funds quicker and can use those funds for whatever they wish.

Is Bitcoin trustworthy given the backlash against the traditional banking sector?

Bitcoin is as trustworthy as any other currency once you know a little more about it. It can be more volatile than say the paper based dollar or euro, but it also offers much more flexibility. Whoever uses it should apply the same security as they would with fiat currency or payment instrument. You do not share your bank account logins, debit card PIN code or cash with others. With Bitcoin you simply apply the same logic – you have an online wallet, you should keep the logins to it safe. If you are using a debit card then keep the PIN code safe as well. At the end of the day it comes down to the individual user to exercise the requisite care themselves. Bitcoin is here to stay and it is as safe as you keep it.

Has there been much interest in the online gambling industry for Bitcoin?

Growth was perhaps slower a few years back, but since Bitcoin has grown in popularity more and more people from the online gambling sector are starting to see the potential.  Gambling businesses are very much driven by numbers and return on investment, so the early adopters of Bitcoin enabled gambling products are showing strong growth numbers which make others wish to jump on-board the bandwagon.

Given the lower transaction fees associated with using Bitcoin both from a player’s perspective moving money into and out of the operators’ gaming platform and for the operators over other payment methods, provides a strong business case and justification for more gaming operators and platforms to enable Bitcoin acceptance.

Does Bitcoin therefore have the potential to transform legacy gambling infrastructures?  

Innovation and change always polarises opinion both positively and negatively. However like most disruption in the digital economy, its consumers driving the change not so much the corporates. With that Bitcoin users tend to be a younger and therefore much sought after demographic segment that has grown up with digital technology. They are able to embrace change very swiftly without any hang-ups or preconceptions. It’s a cliché for sure but they are the now generation not just pushing change but transformation and that means constantly challenging the status quo or legacy ways of that things are done. Just in the same way as mobile has increased the reach and accessibility of gaming to a wider audience, which was the consumers demanding the change as against the operators foreseeing the demand, Bitcoin can certainly help modernise existing gambling infrastructures and business models. There are hundreds of millions of potential consumers that are regarded as ’under banked’ and may not have access to traditional banks, ATM’s or debit cards. But yet that same group are accessing the internet and wish to buy goods and services – so it’s a numbers game and Bitcoin could by a means to service a relatively large and growing consumer market who what to do things differently from the previous generation.