ICE London 2019: crypto as an ideal fit for the gambling industry
For a third year consecutively, I had a pleasure to join a few of my CoinGate teammates and go on a business trip to the ICE London conference, which took place on February 5th.
ICE London is the leading gaming technology event for business growth, development, and networking. It’s also a perfect spot for a global gathering if you’re a gaming professional that is looking to source product and/or service solutions. It’s proven to be an excellent hub for meeting new people and putting your business on a map.
For us, ICE became an annual event where we get the chance to greet CoinGate partners, clients, and friends at the same place. This year wasn’t an exception — we were as busy as ever, and also managed to present CoinGate in an entirely new light.
A maturing industry
The ICE London conference always seems to attract the biggest players in the industry. It covers sectors like betting, bingo, casino, lottery, mobile, online, social, sports betting, and etc. Here, you have a chance to meet huge brands like Konami, Digitain, Betconstruct, Novomatic, as well as major PSP providers like Wirecard, Trustly, Paysafe group, and so on.
Our first ICE London attendance three years ago, went in a completely different light: a very humble experience. We knew that cryptocurrencies and gambling go well together because of their borderless nature. Gambling was an obvious fit for CoinGate. However, we had no idea what challenges cryptocurrencies will face when they become more popular. It was the period when crypto-hype haven’t started yet, so it was hard to persuade gambling businesses that their customers would want to pay with digital assets. We saw that there’s a huge demand but still, the first time we felt like misunderstood outsiders.
Fast forward to 2019: three days in London, hundreds of business cards given away, twelve meetings, and two dinners together with our major partners; it proves that now, we came in as a well-established company that had some real friends to meet there. Speaking of — a shout-out to the guys from Paysafe and cheers to our mutual partnership of 7 months already! It was also a real pleasure to meet Alisher and Boris from Jeton, as well as Austrian PSP DIMOCO — you rock! That’s what I love the most about this conference — you always get to meet everyone, and have a good time doing it.
The conference itself had a pleasant change of tone. It was clearly more stable, steady and professional. As a recurring visitor, I was quite surprised that even the most provocative attendees had a change of heart.
A year ago, a virtual slot machine service Endorphina hired a couple of dancers to perform a dance routine next to their booth. IMHO the performance reminded me more of an adult gentlemen club rather than what you usually expect to see at the daytime conferences. Rumors are floating around, saying that the booth owners got in trouble with the event organizers after being criticized by the community. Whether they deserve it or not, it’s for you to decide.
This time Endorphina came up to a completely different approach, which I see as a trolling on a highest level. Nonetheless, it became a good reflection of the ethical difference of ICE between 2018 and 2019. This particular case is relatively minor, seeing how the industry as a whole is elevating itself to the next level. By being part of it for several years, we had a chance to witness how this high-risk industry has been maturing in terms of transparency and an overall understanding of the current business environment.
Gambling and cryptocurrencies are both labeled as high-risk industries. If one is smart and tech-savvy, businesses that are not careful can become a haven for money laundering. However, being already 5 years in crypto-payments gave a lot of confidence, therefore realizing that CoinGate can and will mitigate major risks. This all means that we can offer the gambling more than just cryptocurrency collection options. In fact, high-risk companies should find it very convenient to implement blockchain-based payment solutions as it also helps mitigate their own risks, which happen to be the same as ours.
“But how?”, you may ask.
Mitigating the compliance risks with CoinGate
Just recently, CoinGate talked about the 5th AML Directive that’s approaching Europe this year. Once it goes into effect, cryptocurrency-related companies like CoinGate or any other (e.g., crypto exchanges, brokers, custodial wallets, etc.) will be obliged to apply updated AML and KYC procedures according to new standards. In other words, we, as a European-based company, will have to do more extensive due diligence on our customers to detect and prevent criminals from using our services for their own benefit.
Of course, building compliance procedures poses its own challenges. However, it also presents the opportunity for high-risk industries like gambling to avail the blockchain forensics solutions, and mitigate their own hazards associated with money laundering, fraud, and other possible illicit activities.
It’s not as crazy as it might sound. CoinGate, as a payment processor, is obliged to have all the necessary tools to identify both crypto senders and receivers. Thus, it allows us recognizing specific patterns of gamblers and following the trail of digital money in case something feels fishy. For businesses like gambling, compliant payment processors can provide valuable insights, as well as the instruments that otherwise would cost a lot to develop by themselves.
After all, regulations should provide more stability and security for the whole blockchain industry, herewith helping to maintain the healthy and prosperous ecosystem. It should also help to manage how crypto is legitimized in gambling, at the same time reducing the risks in the eyes of respective central banks.
It is absolutely crazy to see high-risk businesses working with compliant payment processors just after ten years from the birth of Bitcoin and blockchain. And now, it is no longer a question whether it is worth accepting cryptocurrencies with payment processors or not, and more like when it will happen on a larger scale. The problem we had in 2017 is not relevant anymore — we have much to offer, and industries like gambling recognize that. For me, the trend is quite apparent.
A valuable experience
ICE London managed to provide useful insights, knowledge, and connections repeatedly. It gave us a chance to get familiar with the major industry players and visualize how our solution can benefit them. Without a doubt, it certainly opened up many opportunities for CoinGate back in a day, and even more now.
Overall, London is a fun and engaging city where I always manage to meet new people. One more shout-out to all those that I couldn’t mention here. I had many meetings in private with a lot of fascinating people. Hopefully, we will meet each other once again soon. It will get even more interesting as we move forward.
Next year, we will for sure come back to ICE London. I encourage you to visit this fantastic conference and meet us once again, or maybe even for the first time.