With the first half of 2019 drawing to a close, it’s as good a time as any to do a recap on what we’ve been up to for the last six months and a sneak preview of some of the things we have coming up in the second half of the year.
So, what have we been up to?
Marketing & Operations
It’s been a busy and valuable past quarter on the marketing and operations front. For us Q2 was all about testing and learning across acquisition, retention and promotions and we have certainly learned a lot.
We also beefed up the team and brought in an affiliate manager on the CasinoFair brand and a digital marketing manager to lead retention and promotions across all brands. Both of these new hires come with years of both online casino and importantly crypto casino experience.
White label partners
Exciting news! Last week saw us agree the contract to sign our second third party white label casino with London-based M25 Media. This has developed out of conversations we had with them at ICE earlier this year and we’ll be announcing details on the brand, launch dates and more in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can read more about the deal here.
Customer acquisition-wise, we’ve tested a number of digital networks and simultaneously been rejected on others. All of the larger networks do not allow casino marketing in grey markets unless specifically regulated for that market. So SEO, affiliates and organic social are the main channels we have to operate in at present.
From an SEO point of view we are growing, there have been technical hurdles to overcome and the activities are starting to pay off, but it’s not going to be overnight increases in traffic. This is a sustained, planned out, gradual process.
Regarding affiliates we have started signing up ‘off-chain’ affiliates. These deals are tracked but not executed in smart contracts at present. The good news is that we have 40+ signed up and are starting to get our promotions live, we hope to see significant traffic hikes and new active customers as we scale that further.
With regards to ‘on-chain’ affiliation, this is where we’re confident we’ll get more immediate growth. Enabling not just professional affiliates but our community and the blockchain/crypto community at large to earn FUN in real time through referring customers in their networks is a massive opportunity. The enthusiasm and passion our community members have for Funfair and what we’re doing is a massive asset and we’re very excited to have a fair, fast, blockchain-driven mechanism to reward them for their support.
Socially, we’re exploring how we can drive new players through extending our networks and building a database of quality potential customers (and affiliates) in the markets we operate in.
Many of you will have seen the huge increase in players we had in May. We kicked off by testing a new welcome bonus to test the impact and although we had a lot of new users into the casino, very few of those were depositing players. Specifically we saw a lot of bonus abuse from certain markets which was always a risk given the gaming histories of some countries, but we’re now far better equipped with our learnings to mitigate this in the future.
We then incrementally reduced the incentives of the offer through the wagering requirements and ultimately through reducing the headline promotional figure to see the effect that had. We’ll continue to change this into July and beyond, but as our casino is non-custodial, when we bonus a customer, that bonus is theirs and only theirs. We want this to be the case but we’re also continually looking at how we can incentivise play but minimise bonus abuse. It’s a fine line and we continue to test and learn.
Millionaire Maker had been a huge success for us, but we were aware that a small number of players were winning it consistently due to the mechanics of the promotion. We decided to test a cashback promotion in its place, which would still reward our VIPs but also reward more casual players.
The results were definitely lower than expected and we’re learning that our players behave differently and react to different incentives. The cash back we offered would have been a huge promo in an online casino, but in our case it was not as attractive. We realised this quickly and began working on a new mechanic which would attract both our VIP players and more casual players – Moon Racer was launched! It’s had a great impact since going live and we’ll continue to monitor, test, learn and optimise as we grow.
Taking experience from our Development team, we have also been experimenting with introducing Agile methodology to the marketing and operational areas of the business. We kicked this off in May and are happy to say we’re now fully Agile in these areas. It’s already starting to pay tangible dividends and we are confident we will continue to have a very positive impact on results and output.
The Crypto Market
From a commercial point of view, we’re pleased to see some encouraging signs that the crypto market is turning for the better. We hope and expect this to be a sustained recovery albeit not without a few ups and downs along the way!
We also appreciate that we, and other blockchain companies, come under increased scrutiny in challenging times, but we want to reiterate that we always remain 100% focused on doing what we believe is in the best interests for the long term success of the project, with a first class team, an increasingly efficient operational base, a strong and developing team culture and a strong financial base from which we can continue to invest wisely into our future growth.
We set ourselves very ambitious goals for the first half of the year, predominantly focussing on seamless onboarding and mobile optimisation. These were projects that we understood were complex and large in scale; we needed to rebuild our website to not only better support the smaller screen, but to allow for better content management, faster performance and greater scalability.
The new wallet will deliver the final piece that would allow us to support players on mobile devices using their browsers and also simplify the onboarding process by removing the complexity of extensions and technical knowledge.
Besides these two sizable tasks, we needed to improve our KYC process by integrating another provider that could offer a simpler experience that would also be consistent with mobile. This meant no downloads and no additional sign up procedures.
Since founding, we have attempted to change the gambling landscape for the better and affiliate technology is something we mentioned we would be providing in a very different way to the industry norms, using the benefits of the blockchain to incorporate instant affiliate payments in a trustless manner.
Other key platform improvements were also required, namely SEO functionality, further integration of the headless CMS, deeper data integration with our reporting tool Tableau, better game integration with the platform through the separation of game releases into individual releases, and also upgrading the API between the games and the platform.
We knew this wasn’t easy and there would be challenges and setbacks on the way. But we always set ourselves goals that are challenging, where’s the Fun if we didn’t? And although we haven’t managed to deliver all of the items for the six month period, we accomplished many of our goals and have a lot more to release in the coming weeks and months.
Crypto Casino is live! This has been a massive effort on behalf of the entire team here at FunFair and we’re excited to see its progress in the coming months. RakeTheRake have been a great partner to work with and getting this over the line is a major landmark for us. It also marks the end of the beginning in terms of our long term roadmap to enable multiple casino launches, powered by our technology and the FUN token.
We will continue to do the operational and product improvement work on the platform side, as we have done in getting it up to shape for third party integrations, and we’re very confident in RakeTheRake’s ability to market it to their existing player base and the new crypto audience which they now have access to.
KYC v2 has been launched with Trulioo. This has massively cut registration times, which when rolled out across all available territories will be key to easy onboarding and player conversion.
We appreciate there has been frustration that the rollout has been slower than expected. This has been due to issues that came up in testing certain countries and due to this, wanting to ensure Canadian registrations worked effectively for a sustained period.
The issues we identified ensured it was clear that we couldn’t release all the countries as first intended, and instead we’ve gone down a phased roll-out route, kicking off with Norway which started accepting players through Trulioo yesterday. We are also trying to target new jurisdictions with our Trulioo integration and are planning these accordingly.
Mobile & new UI
Our new, mobile-compatible website is in testing. It’s far more customisable with support from the integrated CMS, allowing for more bespoke, effective branding and banners for ourselves and partners. There have been some changes and interdepencies that have delayed this to Q3 but we’re confident it will be worthwhile and another strong asset in improving customer onboarding. Also, we’d like to point out that as a big ticket item, these delays are fairly minor in terms of the percentage of work carried out and wallet development dependencies.
Wallet progress has been steady and is entering its final stages. Firstly, it works and works well. We’re now going through the latter stages of QA having incorporated the front end and copy. This is another significant development item, and as previously discussed, has required a lot of development work. It’s also dependent on all the work being completed on the website. We couldn’t release the wallet on the existing platform and as such, the delays on the website had a much greater knock on effect than expected on the wallet release.
However, when live, blockchain gaming on our platform will be far simpler and flexible to all, opening our reach up significantly, allowing those with less technical knowledge access to a world of fair gaming.
The affiliate work has been completed and released in relation to the registration and affiliation links, but the Fate Channel integration and payments has encountered a slight delay. We are finishing the work now and will be releasing this innovative phase in the early weeks of Q3.
We’ll update in more detail on product timings when the Q3 roadmap is released.
Games & Promotions
Ocean Blaster 2, our first third party game; Blackjack VIP, our first high roller title; Alice Cooper, our first licensed slot; Hi Lo Max, another first class instant win; Fate of Thrones: Scratchcard, our first scratchcard; Cyber Hunter 2080; our first big bet slot; and last but not least, Electrobet, our first-of-its-kind smash hit, have all gone live on their production calendar.
We mentioned processes earlier but our games team have been hammer and tong in building the best, fairest and some of the most unique games on the blockchain. Their accuracy on quality, creativity and deadlines has been very impressive and there’s a whole lot more to come in the second half of the year.
Along with games, we’ve been busy building out a VIP player management strategy and new focus on VIP games which we’re confident will see our casinos appeal to a wider audience and lead to greater hold.
Provably fair is only probably fair. Our tech goes way beyond this and we’re now rolling out a new proprietary brand marque to own this difference – introducing ‘Guaranteed Fair’.
Some of you may have seen us mention this over the past few weeks, others not, but we want to explain in some more detail why we’re setting ourselves apart.
Firstly, provable fairness has lost its meaning. Gambling companies use it as a casual phrase with little to back it up. There’s no specific definition and it’s become somewhat of a lazy buzzword which doesn’t do our technology justice.
Our platform goes far beyond anything else out there for the following reasons and we need to separate ourselves from the chasing pack and set a new industry standard.
As you will soon see, this new marque on the right will be incorporated on our platform in various manners across all brands on our network as an ingredient brand.
Guaranteed Fair has three distinct components and here’s what they are:
- Guaranteed random numbers
- The FunFair platform combines both the player’s and the casino’s random numbers before gaming commences. This ensures the merged chain of randomness cannot be affected as a whole, allowing for guaranteed, legitimate game outcomes that can only be random and play out simultaneously to both house and player.
- Payment peace of mind
- With house and player funds held in escrow for the entirety of the game session, you can be sure that your winnings will be covered in full and paid out directly to you as soon as you are done playing the game. No need to trust the casino, this is done by design.
- Complete neutrality
- No need to worry about house bias and control, we’re giving the player the power back. All game disputes are verified in a decentralised manner and not by any individual. If the player or casino tries to cheat or something goes wrong, the blockchain will know and reward the innocent party.
Along with Guaranteed Fair, we’ve also tweaked the FunFair logo to ensure it’s more contemporary, cleaner and works better at a smaller size (on mobile and also as an ingredient brand).
So, here it is:
Our new logos will be rolled out across the platform, our social channels, funfair.io and with external partners in the coming weeks. If you see anything that needs updating after that, please feel free to drop us a line.
We’ve brought in a number of new hires across our departments, most notably Group Financial Controller in Michael O’Connor. He will be based out of our London office and will bring strong experience from his extended period working at the Postcode Lottery and more recently in the same role at Sporting Index Group.
Two new developers joining soon are to be based out of Ireland with one further remote developer to be based out of Romania. We also have new staff onboarded covering design, affiliates and digital marketing requirements.
FunFair’s UK team has also relocated from our Camden base to a vibrant shared office space on the border of Fitzrovia and Marylebone in London’s West End. With some employees going remote and a more flexible working policy, along with the relocation of some of the team to Dublin, we’ve made the jump to access a more central, more attractive location to staff and new starters, at a considerably reduced cost to our old offices but with many more benefits. From our first couple of weeks on-site, it’s fair to say it’s proving to be a win-win so far.
We’ve finalised our plans for the next quarter, and we’ll be communicating these in a blog and on our roadmap in the next week or two, so keep an eye out for that.
We’ve got a busy month ahead with shows in Amsterdam, where we’ll show off our affiliate tech for the first time, and WGES this week, where Jez and the team are speaking to an exclusive, C-level gaming executive audience. We’ll continue to keep you updated on all major news we have coming up and will be announcing a commercial-focused live Q&A shortly to answer any of your burning questions.