Shane McLaughlin, managing director at BETDAQ, describes the current state of the exchange sector and how the firm is closing the gap between what’s on offer and what punters really want.
iGaming times: How would you describe the level of competition in the exchange sector today – and how important is it to innovate your offer?
SHANE MCLAUGHLIN: The level of competition in the sector is as high now as it has ever been, although we still see ourselves and Betfair as the two competitors in the exchange platform sector in regulated markets.
We’re seeing the betting exchange market segment somewhat between those who want to be an exchange platform provider, and an honest broker in the transaction, and some newer products that present themselves as an exchange, but have closed APIs, provide their own liquidity, and prop trade the customers like a sportsbook. I think it’s important that customers are aware of what type of product they are betting on.
Innovation is an important part of any digital business, but with the exchange product, the most important thing is to keep doing the basics to an excellent standard. We’ve invested heavily in our platform in recent years and we’re now seeing the results, in terms of stability, speed and throughput having recently passed 500 days without an unplanned outage.
iGT: You recently launched a flat-rate two percent commission, as part of a wider #ChangingForTheBettor campaign. What effects has this change had so far, and what else do have planned for the campaign?
SMcL: We have seen a very positive reaction from exchange users who have pretty quickly figured out that the combination of two percent commission and the odds offered on Betdaq isa pretty compelling proposition.
What we have seen so far is that the switch has had the effect we forecasted pre-launch and is very much a sustainable model for us moving forward.
The campaign revolves around BETDAQ’s commitment to make the changes that exchange customers want to see from BETDAQ. As much as it is a marketing campaign, it is a statement of intent that BETDAQ will be continuously investing in improvements for our customers.
iGT: We’re obviously approaching one of the most intense periods for a betting exchange with the World Cup kicking off this month. How does BETDAQ aim to maximise and manage the inevitable influx of traffic – and what are the main challenges in doing so?
SMcL: As stated earlier the stability of our platform is one of our key strengths and we are very comfortable with our ability to manage the expected additional traffic to the platform. The main product upgrades have focused on bringing a new football content package online ahead of the World Cup. They have also focused on the more mundane, but equally important, issue of how to deal with instances of VAR interruptions, especially when there are long periods of play before the review takes place.
iGT: Beyond this summer’s events, how do you see player demands changing what the exchange sector offers, and what’s on your own roadmap for R&D?
SMcL: We recently began on boarding customers to our new Push API platform, which reduces the API call load for customers and in turn lets them access and trade in more markets simultaneously. This will lead to more liquidity for all customers and has been in development for more than a year.
Our mobile and desktop platforms are still relatively new and it is a case of incrementally adding upgraded features and functions, such as our racing BetFinder and facial recognition login to the mobile app.
iGT: Looking even further ahead, how do you think the advent of blockchain technology will affect BETDAQ’s business model, and the wider betting exchange sector, in the years to come?
SMcL: I recently read somewhere that blockchain is a “solution looking for a problem” and that pretty much sums up our view at present. We had a good look at blockchain and the implications for us about a year ago and pretty quickly concluded that the technology is not suited to exchange betting, where you have massive transaction volumes occurring in small time windows and speed of output is essential.
We also don’t believe the benefits of blockchain are unlocking a compelling market proposition in the exchange space yet. We’ll keep a watching brief for now and move if that changes, but for the moment, we believe we’re better served focusing on improving our current product and platforms for customers.