2023 Tech Forecast: e-Technologies - David Kicks
Continuing our outlook series, we now have the perspective of David Kicks, CEO and Co-founder of e-Technologies. He will share his insights on the technologies that are expected to drive the industry, the potential technical hurdles for operators, and his take on the recent collapse of FTX and its effect on operator trust in cryptocurrencies.
GE) Which technologies do you feel will dominate the gambling industry in 2023?
DK) Much of the focus of the industry is dominated by compliance related issues, so any reg-tech is going to be in vogue this year. These relate to KYC and AML challenges and trying to streamline the player onboarding process which is a requirement to meet regulators expectations on player safeguarding and ensuring sustainability of their gaming.
Payments are constantly evolving, creating faster and cheaper solutions for the benefit of both players and operators alike. The huge success of PIX in Brazil over recent years, is one such example. However, much of the industry is hamstrung by long lead times for new integrations. Many older platforms struggle with legacy payment modules that lack flexibility which has become a significant bottleneck at this time. So, anything that looks like a more modular payment orchestration layer enabling faster integrations is going to be of interest to the industry.
GE) What online markets are going to be the focus for operators in 2023 and what technical challenges will this face in gaining market share?
DK) I think we are starting to see the industry change gears. The big rush to go live in the US is well underway. In Europe, the market is saturated and mature and has become a low growth, regulation heavy arena. As a natural progression, operators are looking elsewhere for regulated and regulating opportunities.
Africa, with its burgeoning population, is presenting new opportunities yet it also brings new technical challenges. The African gaming industry is growing rapidly, however, there is still limited cloud infrastructure across the continent, power and internet access is still patchy, and the sophistication of mobile devices and cost per GB of data needs to be improved.
We will see AWS, Google Cloud and Azure opening further data centres on the continent this year, but latency and ensuring that lighter content is made available means that new operators have a fair bit of product reconfiguration to undertake before a launch.
I think we will also see an increased interest in some of the Asian markets outside of China and there are exciting developments in LatAm, where we see a push in Brazil to regulate now the Lula administration gets to work.
GE) How do you see Bet Builders evolving throughout 2023?
DK) The Bet Builder category, pioneered by bet365, has become an important product for the market, and it's popularity is evident given the many operators now offering this. My own view is that the control afforded to the player and the opportunity to be creative with your bet will continue to drive innovation around this. I believe we will see a demand from the market for ever more options and creative bet opportunities. I expect more sports and events encompassing this technology and providing further improvements throughout the year.
GE) Do you think that the FTX collapse will have an impact on operators' outlook towards crypto during 2023?
DK) The FTX collapse really exposed a lot of what is wrong and what is right about crypto, but I think the collapse will be neutral for gambling operators. Pure crypto casinos are having an extraordinarily lucrative run at the moment, and FTX demise will have no impact on them.
The decentralised promise of crypto and the ‘trustless’ elegance of blockchain still holds great promise for innovation. Additionally, we will start to see better execution of NFTs and a greater awareness of the potential that they can offer aside from fan collectibles.
Failures in the early crypto space and some of the security breaches were inevitable, but DEXES (Decentralised Exchanges) and DeFi are here to stay.
Gaming regulators have been very cautious in their approach to crypto, but we are seeing movement. There has been limited appetite for crypto payment processing outside of grey markets to this point, with the majority of volumes being driven by the industry’s use of stablecoins for larger faster settlements, supplanting SWIFT.
The EU is starting the pilot of MiCA (Markets in crypto assets) in the first quarter of 2023, with target deployment in the second half of 2024. This will bring a harmonisation of rules regulating crypto assets and the issuance and governance of stablecoins. We can expect a wider mirroring of this framework, as was the case with GDPR.
The takeaway of this being that crypto is becoming less volatile and better integrated into the financial system, irrespective of the madness that was FTX.
About our contributor
David is the co-founder and CEO of e-Technologies, a UK-based fintech company helping global governments take control of e-commerce taxation. David was at the forefront of digital businesses, helping establish Europe’s first full service digital advertising agency in 1996, opening offices in London, Paris, Madrid, Milan & Hamburg. In 2002 David co-founded St Minver, a Gibraltar licensed gaming business, providing white label gaming services to a number of global brands, including Virgin, Gala and Yahoo!. The business grew successfully and was bought by GTECH/Lottomatica in 2008.
David then invested in various technology and payment businesses, and in 2018 co-founded Moneybite.com, a Malta-licensed crypto payment processing and OTC business that he remains a partner in. Visit https://www.e-technologiesglobal.com/