Crypto focused, VIP-led: Jacqueline Neo on 10 years of Bitcasino
Bitcasino first opened its doors to bettors back in 2014, and in those near-10 years, a lot has changed.
We’ve seen some governments introduce gambling regulation, we’ve seen others tighten their grip on existing legislation. And one trend that has become increasingly prominent is the adoption of digital currencies – particularly within the casino space.
Bitcasino has been one company to put the pedal to the metal and take the lead in the crypto gaming industry.
At the recent Yolo Partners Event, which took place at the company’s headquarters in Tallinn, Head of Bitcasino Jacqueline Neo took the time to sit down with SBC Media to discuss her career to date as well as some of the changes going on at Bitcasino.
Her first steps in the gaming industry began in Singapore, before moving to Manila, Hong Kong and then Estonia where she found herself at Yolo Group.
The Head of Bitcasino began by explaining that when she first joined Yolo Group, her primary focus was to oversee the development of a new Australian brand. However, due to coronavirus restrictions, the move down under ground to a halt.
She started: “I started out working on two brands; the first was LuckySlots, a Thai-focused brand. I worked alongside our partner at the time to launch the brand. When that project came to an end, I worked with another joint venture brand across live casino.
“I was tasked with growing that site completely from scratch – that involved understanding how to develop a streamlined UX and UI for the site.
“It was quite interesting for me to work alongside the developers to help live casino grow. And then we found another joint venture partner, so I spent about 10 months with them, growing the brand into a few markets. However, that partner eventually decided to focus more on fiat casinos which isn’t really a direction that Yolo Group is focusing on.”
While the door closed on this partnership, Neo explained that another door opened when Joe McCallum – Yolo Group’s Managing Director – proposed the role of Head of Bitcasino, which she “of course said yes to”.
Now we’ve all heard about the growth of crypto currency (if you haven’t, where have you been for the last few years?). So it’s safe to say that it was only a matter of time before adoption of digital currencies made its way into the gaming industry.
For context, Bitcasino was among the first companies to make its foray into the crypto space. But since 2014, the space has become significantly more competitive.
Neo commented: “There was a crypto boom when I first joined Yolo Group. Prices were skyrocketing and people new to crypto found our gaming site. They were happy to wager and win crypto as well.
“Then there was a ‘crypto winter,’ along with the rise of more crypto casinos. Back then, there weren’t many competitors in the industry, but the landscape is very different now. We face an increase in competitors and challenges.
“As we discussed, we’ve been operational for 10 years now, the landscape has changed massively. To stay ahead, we must continue to be innovative and offer our players something that they cannot get anywhere else.”
Fortunately, the extra competition from other operators hasn’t been a concern for Bitcasino. Instead, Neo noted that the increasingly saturated market has spurred Bitcasino on to continue innovating and creating new experiences for bettors.
She observed: “Over the last few years, we have had more competitors enter the market. But I think that BitCasino has the upper hand because we’ve been in the crypto space for a much longer time than most of these casinos.
“While they might have been innovating on things that we already brought to the table, we have already moved forward by innovating in spaces such as the Metaverse and our Metaverse Casino. Players want new betting experiences so we’re committed to giving them that.”
Entering the crypto space is no easy feat. It requires an overhaul of your existing technical capabilities to ensure your platform can support crypto, implementation of stringent AML and KYC checks, extensive responsible gambling services as well as 24/7 customer support.
However, the technical benefits that this can bring for operators most certainly outweigh the challenges, Neo told SBC Media.
She added : “One reason for operators entering the crypto space is the burden of high payment service provider fees in the traditional fiat business. These fees can be absolutely exorbitant! They can eat into profits quite significantly.
“Our joint venture partners have recognised this, and they appreciate that using cryptocurrency can help avoid these costs. Ultimately, it’s a win-win for everyone!”
Another factor driving casinos towards the crypto space is the ability to offer a more enhanced player experience. One way of achieving this is through fast withdrawals and a streamlined user interface.
We’ve all had it where we’ve attempted to withdraw winnings from a fiat brand and found that funds can take several hours, or even days, to appear in your bank account. However, the decentralised nature of digital currencies aims to alleviate this issue.
“Once players experience the convenience of quick withdrawals, they are less likely to return to fiat casinos, leading to increased interest in the crypto space,” the Head of Bitcasino affirmed.
“For those casino brands looking to enter the crypto space, they see the benefits that this can not only bring to their business, but also the elevated player experience.”
In addition to being crypto-led, Neo particularly highlighted that Bitcasino also prides itself on being VIP focused.
She continued: “I think we’re incredibly strong with our VIP relations – if you ask any of our players, I have every confidence that you’d get a unanimous response that our VIP Management is head and shoulders above anyone else.
“What we bring to the table is also very high limits for VIPs, unparalleled limits when compared to others in the industry. It’s very important for a VIP brand to offer high limits; we are not afraid to take those big bets. In addition to those limits, we offer top-tier VIP experiences – that is something that we are very aligned on, and it’s in line with our brand direction.”
You might now be asking, what on earth is a VIP experience? At SBC, we had the exact same question. For the Head of Bitcasino, a VIP experience involves rolling out the metaphorical red carpet and delivering an event that players will be excited to tell their friends and colleagues about.
Neo said: “A few months back, we were able to take some of our VIPs to the World Cup final. As you can imagine, that was not an easy thing to organise, but we wanted to give our players a once in a lifetime experience that they will remember.
“The feedback we received from our VIPs was overwhelmingly positive. They told us about how they felt great being able to tell their friends about this experience, about how they had been taken care of from door-to-door. They don’t have to worry about anything – that’s the essence of a VIP experience. Our VIP team is very detail focused, and that makes the world of difference.”
From a betting perspective, however, the definition of VIP shifts slightly. At Bitcasino, being a VIP means benefiting from instant withdrawals, exclusive offers and access to new innovations. One such example is the launch of NFT drops.
NFTs have made the headlines in recent months, with digital creators ‘dropping’ exclusive pieces of digital art and collectibles. Players are able to scan the NFTs which then brings them to the Bitcasino website.
This, Neo said, not only creates something unique and bespoke for its players but also offers advantages for Bitcasino in terms of player acquisition.
She added: “We actually carry out NFT drops for our VIPs. We also drop this to potential new players who have crypto walletsl. So we do have this technology now that is able to drop it, and from there, they can easily scan and get to our website.
“It’s a way of them being introduced to us because the traditional way of SEO or other ways to reach out to them is no longer enough. This also appeals to crypto players much more than more traditional forms of marketing.”
Talk turned towards the defining characteristics of a crypto bettor compared to their fiat counterpart, and something that Neo drew particular attention towards is the difference in technical capabilities.
From the outset, cryptocurrency requires a degree of ‘technological know-how’. Players firstly need to understand how to use a cryptocurrency wallet, how markets can change, how to buy, sell and trade different coins and even which digital coin to use.
But with this enhanced understanding comes a heightened demand, or at least expectation, for a more streamlined, holistic gaming experience. To do this, Bitcasino has deployed a range of gamification features.
Neo commented: “It may be cliche to say, but crypto players are considerably more tech-savvy than players using fiat currencies. They don’t simply show an interest in placing a bet or having a flutter on a slot title. Instead, they’re much more interested in features like gamification.
“We have embraced gamification by offering our players a more engaging experience – we use platforms such as Line, Telegram, etc where players can interact with a bot that sends daily tasks for players to complete and incentives for them to play. We’ve found that players have really enjoyed this.”
Something to consider when rolling out gamification features is the location. As is the case with any product, localisation is of the utmost importance – this is something that Bitcasino achieves through the different social media platforms it uses to interact with players.
For African and European players, Bitcasino uses bots on Telegram to give players ‘challenges’ and ‘tasks’ to complete for the day. For markets such as Japan, the preferred platform is Line.
She added: “Understanding these differences is key when you want to interact with players. People are no longer using SMS or emails, it’s all about social media. So why not use that? We have to keep innovating on that front.
“What sets our players apart is their preference for immersive gaming experiences. They actively seek a more dynamic betting experience, which encourages us to adapt our interactions to cater to their preferences. Beyond traditional offerings, we are exploring the Metaverse as a way to further engage and excite our audience.”
Part two of Jacqueline’s interview will look at future developments at Bitcasino and the prospects of the Japanese market
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