More people than ever are keen to live a greater proportion of their lives in crypto, and online gamers who use these currencies can be some of the stickiest customers around. John Caldwell, Director of Advocacy at the Isle of Man-based Double C Foundation, explains what it takes to rework a disused cryptocurrency so it’s fit for purpose in 2018, and why the gaming industry should open its mind to the possibilities of crypto.
In 2017, you took over governance of CasinoCoin, a cryptocurrency designed for the online gaming industry. What was involved in that process?
CasinoCoin is one of the oldest coins – one of the most popular of 2014/15 – but it was started by coders and software engineers who just weren’t business people, and eventually they just lost interest in it. We went to them late summer 2017 and said: “Look, we think that this is great, we think this project has a lot of value, and we’d like to inject business knowledge into it, create a foundation and take over governance of it.” They were very receptive to that because they’d been banging their heads against the wall for several years.
Being one of the early ‘alt coins’ – coins that aren’t Bitcoin or Ethereum – CasinoCoin was built on quite old technology, so we immediately set about modernising the blockchain with 2017/18 technology. The result is that we now run on a modified version of the Ripple code. It’s actually our own blockchain, we’ve spent loads of time and well over a million lines of code customising it. I’m very proud of it, and I feel like we’ve built a really great product.
Tell us a bit about the Double C Foundation. Am I right to say your primary goal is to educate the industry on cryptocurrencies?
Education is absolutely central to what we’re trying to do. Most of the second half of my 2017 was spent educating the industry on, not only CasinoCoin, but on crypto in general. I consider that one of my primary duties: to help people understand how it works, and why we feel it’s better. Also, to educate them on crypto in general, and to try and debunk a lot of the myths that have plagued crypto from its early days.
The foundation is a non-profit, which is commonplace in crypto (Bitcoin has one, Ethereum has one), and necessary due to the decentralised nature of cryptos themselves. There aren’t things like assets, and much of the traditional IP in a decentralised model, but you still need some infrastructure to provide things like governance, technological support and marketing.
With Bitcoin splashed all over the news, has this made your job easier, or do people still associate cryptocurrencies primarily with grey markets and an anti-regulatory stance?
It’s funny, when I’d just started talking to people in the industry generally about crypto, long before the foundation was formed, people’s reactions ranged from tolerant to outright dismissive. What’s happened in the last four months is that those tolerant reactions have become openly receptive, and most of the dismissive have become, at least, curious.
Legitimacy has definitely been lent by more mainstream reporting on it and more information about it in general. It’s one thing to hear me talking about it, but another when you’re faced with a barrage of information about it daily – if not an hourly basis.
People do still, without question, associate crypto with grey markets. However, the irony is that crypto is designed for transparency, and it’s designed to be more recordable and more verifiable than other types of currency. But in the early days of crypto, it wasn’t used like that, and that has created some perceptions that are, in my opinion, outdated.
From an operator’s perspective, what are the benefits of using CasinoCoin?
CasinoCoin is more than just a currency; we’re building an entire feature-laden wallet, which will have KYC, AML, and responsible gambling features built in at the wallet level. This means the operator has a lot of benefits that they wouldn’t have with traditional processes that exist today.
The first is that the customer only has to do his or her KYC once, by a regulated, licensed KYC provider. For this, we’ve partnered with an industry-leading supplier, so the operator knows that this is a credible, licensed provider and the data is correct and secure.
Not only are operators getting a customer that is KYC, ready to play, but they’re also getting a crypto customer and I think that’s important. One thing that I’ve learned over the last two years, just in my own dalliances into crypto, is that there are increasingly more people who want to live their lives in crypto to the greatest degree possible. So, with this in mind, the operator has access to what we believe is an incremental and passionate user base that wants to be able to gamble, and do other things in crypto. From an operator’s perspective, we’re about sending them customers and about doing so in the most regulated and tightly controlled way possible.
You’re set to appear at ICE this year in partnership with the Isle of Man government. How does it feel to have such a prestigious partnership under your belt?
In terms of what the Isle of Man is doing right now, the ICE stand partnership makes a lot of sense. As a regulator, they really sit at the intersection of iGaming and technology and, certainly in the last six months, you put those two words together and the first topic that comes up is crypto.
Aside from that, we are very pleased with Isle of Man Department for Enterprise and the folks in the government who have been super receptive to our project. We don’t know of too many governmental entities that are welcoming, to this degree, to allow a cryptocurrency to be one of their stand partners at a show the size of ICE. We are really pleased that a government has looked at what we’re doing, and believed in us enough, to partner with us at one of the largest shows in the world.
Double C Foundation will be on the Isle of Man Government stand N6-220 at ICE London.