Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved in the industry?
It all started in 2006, when I joined Betfair as an SEO manager. At that time I was making decisions about which overall direction to take and it seemed that iGaming was an interesting area with a lot of potential. In 2010 I then joined Unibet as head of search marketing and in 2012 setup the successful SEO agency 90 Digital. In 2015 I saw that Cryptocurrency was beginning to get real traction and the opportunity came up to work with SoftSwiss and set up a Cryptocurrency online casino: Oshi
What are your thoughts on Bitcoin? How would you reply to the skeptics saying that Bitcoin is just a bubble that may burst any time?
When you look at Bitcoin, it’s important to look the fundamentals of what it actually does. It is money for the Internet. It’s similar to gold in that it doesn’t need an intermediary to determine the value of it. The value of Bitcoin is really driven by the market.
When you think about price volatility, it’s important to decide how you are using Bitcoin. If it’s simply as an investment vehicle, then you run the risks of any investor. If you are using Bitcoin as a transaction medium for passing a small amount of wealth from a to B i.e. a Bitcoin transaction, then Bitcoin is incredibly efficient and quick with moderate transaction fees.
If you’re not in the speculation game, the trick with Bitcoin is to buy it, transact with it and then get it back into Fiat money.
Bitcoin might be a bubble that could burst, but as long as the fundamentals of Bitcoin hold up i.e. speed of transaction, cost of transaction then it’s likely to continue to remain as a good transactional medium.
How safe is it to pay with Bitcoins when playing online games? How to protect yourself from being scammed?
In a sense this is two questions in one. First question is whether Bitcoin is safe to transact with and the second is protecting yourself from being scammed by a casino.
The most important thing to remember about Bitcoin is that it is trustless. In other words you are not depending on a intermediary like a bank or a financial institution to honour the transaction. In other words you pay via your card, your trusting the card provider will then pay the casino. With Bitcoin because of its architecture you are effectively paying the operator directly.
Then you’re into the question about do you trust the casino… The casino acts as a banker. You pay your money in, you gamble on games, you either win or lose and if you win you want to be paid. The trust is predominantly whether you’re confident you will be paid.
If you read forum posts et cetera a repeating comment is whether cashouts were quick or not. If you check out a casino, see what people say about cashouts and that will give you a good idea on whether it is a trustworthy casino.
As the owner of an online casino, would you like Bitcoin to be more regulated?
I get this kind of question often; should Bitcoin be more regulated? When you understand blockchain, which is how Bitcoin can be passed from one place to another, you’ll know that regulation effectively means having an intermediary which everyone trusts to process the transactions on your behalf.
You then must trust that intermediary. So, you are conditioned to trust your retail banking organisation? But if you live in a country where those banks aren’t trustworthy, then would you want them to be involved in regulating the blockchain and therefore Bitcoin? Probably not.
Because Bitcoin is pseudo-anonymous i.e. transactions are visible on the Internet, but if you don’t know the identity of the sender or receiver of Bitcoin, then it becomes anonymous. The question about regulation really comes down to whether governments demand knowledge of the senders and receivers of Bitcoin. Governments can push for this, but being the Internet, there will be another coin which becomes a store of value and becomes anonymous. Why? Because the Internet wants this. So governments can only push for so much transparency and regulation with Cryptocurrency before they lose complete control of it.
In short, it makes no difference whether I think Bitcoin should be regulated or not, because it will just do what it does. However, since fundamentally a libertarian I believe in the ethos of Cryptocurrency and its decoupling of government control.
Do you have any favorite Bitcoin wallets and exchanges that you would recommend to try out?
I have been really impressed with cubits, they handle payment processing for Oshi and in my time using them, we’ve had various issues like double spend attacks and so on which Qubits have dealt with really efficiently.
BUT… Different wallet providers work within different countries and they all have shifting terms and conditions, so it’s important to do your research on the forums to see what people say.
Some experts believe we will see the price soaring above $4,000 this year. Where do you see Bitcoin a year down the road?
I get tired of hearing about Bitcoin prices going up or down. It’s a complete distraction from what Bitcoin should fundamentally do, which is cheap, fast, borderless movement of wealth with a market-driven commodity i.e. similar to gold.
When people go on about Bitcoin prices going up, they’re talking about Bitcoin as a speculative commodity which isn’t to be used as it should be. In other words you by Bitcoin, hold it and sell it for a profit.
Humans are very susceptible to boom and bust. If you look at the tulip mania of 1619, some tulips were being sold for roughly 10 times the annual wages for a skilled tradesman. Looking at all of this objectively, is one tulip worth the efforts of 10 useful people for a year? Probably not.
I worry that Bitcoin decouples from what it should be, which is the practical benefits of Internet money to an impractical and expensive store of wealth (transaction costs getting too high)
If Bitcoin does go over the edge, there are some other amazing Cryptocurrencies like Dogecoins, Litecoin and of course Ethereum which people can transact in.
We know that you’re a kayaking champion and you raced on world championship level. Do you still participate in master classes?
Well spotted! I’ve had the honour of racing in 4 world Championships. I still do at least five training sessions a week, which is possible because kayaking is very body friendly. There is no hyper extending or serious compression of joints and being a strength endurance sport, it’s something one can do for a very long time.
I also head up coaching at my canoe club, which is the largest and most successful in the UK and I still race in the Masters category, winning the occasional race!
Do you have any other favourite pastimes?
I’ve always been into motorbiking. There’s a great sense of freedom with motorbikes and in London it seems to be one of the best ways to get around. And following on from that, I really enjoy motorbike mechanics. I have a small collection of bikes, and old Ducati , a Harley-Davidson and a BMW GS (Enduro bike) which is my daily driver. They’re all very different and and that’s what makes them fun to own.
As the CEO of Oshi, you must be a very busy man. How do you find time for your other favorite activities? Could you share some of your time management secrets?
David Allen: getting things done: http://gettingthingsdone.com/
Were not built to multitask, despite what we might think. By following this methodology, you break things into stuff to do right now, stuff a later and things that are projects. If you’re spending all your doing micro-tasks i.e. answering pointless emails, you then lose sight of bigger projects that have much more value down the road.
That’s why in our business, we don’t have meetings in the mornings, because it allows everyone to actually get some real work done and typically we save meetings for 3 PM onwards when everyone’s a bit fatigued.
I also believe in trusting people and by avoiding micromanaging, you remove a huge amount of administration work from your life. In turn gives you time, which as we all know is irreplaceable.
You are the founder and the main face of Oshi Casino. What makes your casino special as compared to the similar products?
It’s hard to say what is definitely special about Oshi, because I’ve learnt with running a casino it’s not one thing, but many things added up.
Apart from the huge number of games, we have a very powerful game search engine which makes it easy to find new games that you might want to play. The site is fast and we really care about accountability to our customers, so cashouts are quick and in my opinion at least, we are very generous with bonusing. That’s why we have a daily reload bonus, along with redeemable comp points which equate around 10% cashback and we even have lotteries.
Different people like different things so take your pick!
Oshi is willing to communicate with players at the early stage of development. How much say do users get when it comes to launching a new game?
This question really touches on game search. If you have thousands of games on a website, but it’s impossible to navigate to all these new games, then launching a new game is quite a big deal because the operator gives that game prominence before burying it in its inventory.
With game search, all of our 1000 + games are easy to search through, so we can launch hundreds of games and each one is is easy to find as the next. Therefore launching new game is easy for us and the customer. That’s why we tend not to make a big deal of these things.
Is there any projects that are meant to help Oshi customers play responsibly, without going overboard?
Responsible gambling is a big thing from me. Within Oshi we have self exclusion and betting limits, which follow best practices outlined by many regulated jurisdictions.
Saying that, responsible gambling is a very difficult area to handle because ultimately it is tied into proportion of wealth that is gambled. We have highrollers who would happily play a year’s wages in an afternoon, but to them it small change.
Conversely there may be an individual who can’t afford to lose $10 and they are gambling… Unless you know the wealth of each individual playing, it’s very difficult to judge what is responsible gambling for whom.
How to not get lost in the world of online casinos? What are the signs of a quality casino?
Simply, go and read the reviews. There is a general trend these days towards affiliate’s being much more truthful about which operators are trustworthy or not. So, go and do some research online read through at least 15 reviews to get an overall sense of how a casino behaves.
Bear in mind, most Cryptocurrency casinos are licensed from Curaçao and Curaçao is known for not being an aggressive regulator. So it’s really important you look at social proof i.e. reviews et cetera for making a decision on which casino to go with.
Can an online casino truly bring as many positive emotions as the real life one? Some people believe online slots are a way less exciting surrogate.
People gamble because they want excitement and stress. A bit like a rollercoaster. Real-life isn’t either of those things, so that’s why people get immersed in slots games or table games. Gambling should just be something to fill a boring gap and create some intensity.
You set up Oshi in 2015. Are you satisfied with where the casino is at right now? Did you manage to find your niche?
I think Oshi is doing okay, we found a place in the market and customers seem to like what we do. We could always do better, but every businessman will say the same thing. I think overall we’ve found a place within Cryptocurrency casino, but who knows if it’s going to be predominantly Bitcoin or something like Ethereum in the future.
Share your views on future development of Oshi.
We are doing big push on multi language and that’s because the whole point about Cryptocurrency is that it is international and borderless, so if we can communicate with people in languages that aren’t covered by the casinos, we help these prospective customers.
We also want to build an adaptive mobile site, so you get a completely fluid experience on mobile. We already have a pretty good responsive site, but we know we can do better.
I would like to also take on board other Cryptocurrencies and build out relationships with more affiliates across industry.
How do you see the future of online gambling? What new technologies can be used to turn players’ experience into an emotional journey?
I’m very interested in 3-D virtual reality gambling experiences. There are a number of very interesting technologies beginning to mature, which will allow users with a headset to go into virtual casino lobby and play a slots machine or table game. Having tried some of this technology out, it is immersive and intense.
I don’t think slots as we know them will go away anytime soon, because they just work well. As I mentioned, I do think virtual reality will just create a layer around slots which will make them more exciting experience.
In the long term Internet is driving society and reduces our need to travel from one place to another. As Internet speeds carry on increasing and technology improves, they’ll be less and less reason to go to a physical casino somewhere. For that reason online gambling will just carry on outgrowing the rate of off-line gambling.
Overall, global gambling is growing by around 5% a year and online gambling 9%. Depending on how you interpret the statistics online gambling accounts for roughly 2% of total gambling globally….
So, just based on the numbers the future of online gambling is very positive, because it’s what people want.
A big thank you to Nick for taking time to answer the questions. More interviews to come soon, so stay tuned!