Ivan Montik: “Online casinos are reaching out to a younger audience”

Ivan Montik, founder of SOFTSWISS.
Ivan Montik, founder of SOFTSWISS.

Ivan Montik, founder of SOFTSWISS, spoke with Focus Gaming News and reviewed the company’s strategy this year, which was marked by the launch of the SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator, the breakup in Nigeria, and the growing penetration of cryptocurrencies in the gaming industry.

Exclusive interview.- This year, SOFTSWISS obtained a local licence for Nigeria, the second largest gambling space in Africa, with a population of over 200 million and 30 per cent being active sports bettors. Apart from that, the company has focused on crypto bets, since it is expected the public trust in crypto will soon outweigh that of fiat currencies and banks.

In dialogue with Focus Gaming News, Ivan Montik, founder of SOFTSWISS, explained the clues that allowed the company to grow and anticipated what is next in the industry.

What balance do you do for 2021?

This year has been very productive for SOFTSWISS in terms of internal and external growth, achievements and industry recognition. We’ve almost got used to the pandemic restrictions and mastered home officing, the thing that bothered everyone most in 2020.

It even had a certain positive effect on our company as it helped us realise that we can work together from different parts of the world. So that we opened offices in Malta, Poland and Georgia. We also hire local professionals in these countries and offer our colleagues from Belarus an opportunity to relocate. The number of SOFTSWISS employees reached 1000 in December and it’s a huge milestone for us.

We have also grown geographically in 2021. We’ve reached out to the newly regulated markets and got licences in Serbia, Greece and Nigeria. I’m sure it will open new doors for our clients and bring us many mutually beneficial projects in these regions.

In terms of bringing new technology to life, the year 2021 has been marked by the launch of our new product, the SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator. The existing products have been enhanced with new functionality to improve the overall performance and prove the fact that we’ve always been at the forefront of innovation.

What was the highest point of the year? And which were the biggest struggles?

The highest point was our corporate event in Batumi, Georgia. We wanted to celebrate our great team of almost (by then) 1000 employees, the talented and like-minded people who share the same values and work together on SOFTSWISS projects. We organised this event in September to bring everyone together: people from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Malta and other parts of the world who work together but might have not yet seen each other in person.

These were a very productive couple of days which involved a lot of work meetings and management sessions, but also good food, wine and music. Having fun together is just as important as working on common goals. It keeps people motivated for new achievements.

“We have to find legal ways to save our clients’ business.”

Ivan Montik, founder of SOFTSWISS

On the other hand, changes in local regulations which affect our clients’ business remain our main struggle. Unfortunately, many of these are not for the best.

Instead of regulating the iGaming market in such a way that everyone can benefit from it, certain jurisdictions create conditions that simply make any type of operation impossible. As a white label solution provider, we have to find legal ways to save our clients’ business on such markets or open new markets – which we did.

What was the feedback from the clients after the launch of Jackpot Aggregator?

The clients are always excited to get access to innovative marketing tools which help to attract new players and increase brand awareness. Our Jackpot Aggregator perfectly fits into the role. It helps our clients power various cross-brand promotional campaigns and significantly increase their profit.

The operators who already use the Jackpot Aggregator have been surprised by the simple integration and very flexible settings. They are particularly impressed with the ready-to-use jackpot templates, ability to integrate the native player segmentation, and the advanced tracking functionality which helps to evaluate the performance of a jackpot campaign at any point of time.

“The Jackpot Aggregator has been shortlisted for the ‘Product Launch of the Year 2021.”

Ivan Montik, founder of SOFTSWISS.

With the support that our team provides in terms of graphical interface set-up and the choice of unique features, the product is very easy to use in any type of project, from online casino platforms to game aggregators. And it looks like our partners, game providers, will become our clients for the Jackpot Aggregator as well.

Thanks to the positive feedback from our partners and clients, the Jackpot Aggregator has been shortlisted for the ‘Product Launch of the Year 2021’ award by the Global Gaming Awards. It was great to learn that the innovation we bring into the industry is appreciated and recognised. Our goal for 2021 is to have more satisfied clients for this unique product.

You also achieved several partnerships with the SOFTSWISS Sportsbook brand, how much did the sports betting market grow in the past year?

Launching our own product for sports betting in 2020 was an important milestone for SOFTSWISS, and 2021 has shown that it was the right and timely decision. The year was marked by a number of successful partnerships. We have two types of clients for the product.

The first are brands that already operate the SOFTSWISS Online Casino Platform and want to target a larger audience by adding sports events to the portfolio of casino games. The latest integration of this type was with Cobra Casino.

The second type are brands that operate outside of the SOFTSWISS Online Casino Platform and integrate our sportsbook into third-party software. We’ve recently launched two projects of this kind with Power Casino and it has worked out really well.

In general, online sports betting is experiencing sustainable growth and I’m sure it’ll grow even more rapidly now, when live sports events are coming back after the complete cancellation due to the pandemic.

Now it’s important to grow geographically and reach out to new markets. I’m particularly glad we have obtained the local licence for Nigeria, the second largest gambling space in Africa. With the population of over 200 million and 30 per cent being active sports bettors, it is a very lucrative area for our partners.

What analysis do you do of the growth of cryptocurrencies within the iGaming industry?

The share of crypto in iGaming has significantly increased in 2021. According to SOFTSWISS internal analysis of the performance of its products, in the third quarter of 2021, the total amount of bets in crypto has increased 2,8 times compared to the same period the previous year.

The share of crypto bets to fiat currency bets has grown by 27.6 percentage points if we compare the two periods. This growth reflects the general tendencies of the online gaming market.

“In the third quarter of 2021, the total amount of bets in crypto has increased 2,8 times.”

Ivan Montik, founder of SOFTSWISS

First, the number of crypto casino brands has grown significantly and the industry leaders have also jumped in, thus increasing the overall level of trust in crypto gaming. Second, online casinos are reaching out to a younger audience.

These players are more digitised and crypto payments are becoming part of their everyday life. The trend in sports betting is just the same: most of the sportsbook brands which launched with fiat currency are now adding crypto payment options, and new brands completely focus on crypto.

My forecast is that the trend will continue and the public trust in crypto will soon outweigh that of fiat currencies and banks.

How much importance do you give to awards and nominations?

Awards and nominations reflect the company’s real position in the market and help compare yourself to the competition. Brands powered by SOFTSWISS have won numerous awards over the years. They became leaders in such nominations as the ‘Best Casino of the Year’, ‘Players’ Choice’, etc.

See also: SOFTSWISS analyses the crypto trends in the iGaming industry

We’ve always shared the joy and pride with our partners, however, it is even more satisfying to see our own products and services getting recognition from the professional community. 2021 has brought two important awards to our company.

The SOFTSWISS Game Aggregator has become the ‘Best Game Aggregator of the year’, and SOFTSWISS itself has become the ‘Best Customer Service Company of the Year’ according to the International Gaming Awards (IGA) and Starlet Awards. This is my personal highlight because I’ve always put client service first.

What are the biggest challenges for next year?

We have very ambitious goals for 2022. Besides the launch of several new products, we also plan to further expand our geographic reach and enter new regulated markets. Together with our partners, we plan to launch local projects for Greece and Serbia.

I’m sure it will also mean further growth in terms of people, which is also a bit of a challenge from a management perspective. We will need to adapt our management tools and strategies to the company’s scale, but with the great team I have on my side, I’m sure we will climb the ladder.

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Ivan Montik SOFTSWISS SOFTSWISS Jackpot Aggregator