For the last ten years or so, blockchain technology has evolved, achieved familiarity, fairly common adoption, and spawned new products and possibilities. For us, the most important feature of a blockchain is the public accessibility, writes Ian Sherrington, head of blockchain at Ink Innovation.
Anyone with basic technical knowledge can interact with a blockchain and they do so in an intrinsically secure and non-corruptible environment. This is quite an achievement in itself. But challenges remain.
Early blockchain slow
The first blockchain applications have mainly been financial in nature. First Bitcoin proved the technology and then the Ethereum blockchain introduced smart contracts and started the cryptocurrency revolution. Crypto ICOs, trading, exchanges, staking businesses and more were all enabled by the development of smart contracts. And also, Crypto Kitties popularized the new world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
With these early blockchains, transaction processing speed was slow and expensive. Applications had to learn to live with that. Recently though, newer blockchains have provided increased capacity, faster transaction processing speed, and reduced transaction costs. These developments have enabled a whole new set of blockchain applications.
So, what’s happening now? Here are some emerging blockchain application trends that could be profitably adopted by the gaming industry.
Digital IDs, Device IDs
Gaming companies generally have a compliance requirement to recognize their clients, such as 18+ checks, detecting bonus chasers, and anti-money laundering measures. Each new client usually goes through a rigorous know your customer (KYC) process which not only acts as a barrier to entry but also costs the company time and money.
What if each new client could achieve KYC status with a reputable KYC company before registration? Then a new client could share their personal details along with associated KYC verification data with the gaming site, then this would speed the registration process along.
This goal can be achieved with a Digital Identity function as part of a crypto wallet smartphone app. It can work like this: The user records their personal information in the app which then gets verified by a KYC process. The KYC verification data is stored and signed by the user’s private key. When the user becomes a client of a gaming company, their personal details along with their KYC verification data can be shared as part of the registration process. After the gaming company verifies the data, the new client gains immediate access without having to go through any further processing.
An extension to the Digital ID concept is the Device ID verification. Each smartphone can be digitally identified by a Device KYC process and allocated its own private key. Access to online services via the identified device can then be secured with biometrics such as fingerprint and facial recognition which will result in speedier login and access by removing the need for the user to login with the usual username and password.
Most of the current Digital ID offerings out there are like Clear, a sound solution on a centralized database which holds your information at their prerogative – as it is for the many Covid apps which require your information.
Marketing – Extending NFTs
NFTs are not what you think. At least, not what I thought until recently. It turns out that NFTs are really just another smart contract which stores balances of tokens – in this case each token is different and is actually a pointer to an external descriptor file – which itself contains references to images and attributes. An NFT is not actually the ‘thing’ it purports to represent.
NFTs are popular, and many users have adopted crypto wallets with NFT access. NFTs can be ‘minted’ and transferred and are therefore tradeable.
For marketers, an NFT can also be supercharged to add additional functionality and features. For example, an NFT could represent a token bonus or free spins. The NFT can be burned by the owner to release the reward. NFTs can be minted and automatically sent to clients when they pass certain milestones.
Another conceivable type of NFT is the status NFT, which can tie in with the company’s reward strategy. With such an NFT in their wallet, a client gains a certain status on the company websites which would entitle them to privileges and special offers. For example, clients can achieve status as they play more, so they start at bronze and can progress to silver and ultimately gold.
Their individual status NFT would reflect this. One can also think that the higher your status the impact that can have on your bonus NFT’s, creating fairness to the loyal players.
Status NFTs are special in that they cannot be transferred to other users and can be remotely replaced – upgraded or downgraded by the issuing company. Yes, this is possible.
Many other use cases are imaginable for NFTs. In essence though, adoption of NFTs enables an additional and immersive engagement channel which needs to be seriously considered by progressive marketing teams.
Metaverse – Virtual World with VR / AR engagement
Not exactly new as a concept (remember Second Life?), Metaverse is the generic term coined for a three-dimensional virtual world which primarily enables social interaction between people represented as avatars and virtual properties such as land, shops, and many other destinations.
Decentraland and Sandbox are the current leaders in the Metaverse operator league. Interaction with a Metaverse takes a lot of computing power. High-quality graphics rendition and a fast internet connection are requirements for providing the user with a fluid and immersive experience. These days, smartphones, PCs, and VR glasses are all capable of providing a reasonably good experience for users and interest in Metaverses has increased as access has become more widespread.
Crypto currencies and NFTs are used for transactions and many other things in a Metaverse and so a crypto wallet is needed for access. Metamask is the most popular choice and also many others crypto wallets can be used.
A business can set up a property destination in a Metaverse. Is it possible to set up a casino or sportsbook as a property? In the traditional ‘house’ mode, probably not, but in the case of P2P games, tournaments, leader boards, play-to-earn, free crypto, and NFT games models – yes, most certainly.
Is it worth it?
However, would you want to? The immersive promise that Metaverses bring is arguably still in the future as navigation and graphics have some way to go. Perhaps with the Facebook-backed Metaverse becoming available to more users, visitor activity and general interest in Metaverses as a whole will increase. Right now, it’s probably not worth the trouble.
We also have to consider that the largest for real money players will not be the first to adopt the Metaverse, so creating the affiliation, bonuses and attracting the younger players would be the way to go and use the Metaverse for the next few years. Not paying attention to it is like being a land-based casino today without understanding i-gaming at all.
For an online gaming operator that wishes to carry on their normal proposition business but expand into the Metaverse ‘world’, they could operate their own branded Metaverse and link to it from other Metaverses – which could be a seamless experience if the player was able to carry over their Avatar.
So, in terms of jurisdiction, the source Metaverse can be considered to be the affiliate, with the player passing through to the legal gaming jurisdiction of the operator’s Metaverse. Players arriving at the operator’s Metaverse will need to register and conform to the operator’s usual compliance requirements.
Metaverses are promising and could become a regular part of online interaction. The time to get involved might be sooner than you think.
*Ink Innovation is a provider of a unique ecosystem of blockchain, biometrics, mobile and cloud systems for the travel industry and other industries to improve operational flows. An example would be with our aviation partner, which transforms passenger experiences and journeys worldwide. In this case it focuses on all aspects of the passenger experience and aircraft turnaround efficiency, helping its customers lower ICT costs while modernising their infrastructure and processes. Another example is whereby it delivered a full wallet solution with NFT’s which could be used for the loyalty points to the payments and conversion to various forms of credit and or assets.
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One of the first European countries to regulate the gaming sector, Malta is a hub of global business. The island is an obvious choice for SiGMA’s presence in Europe and a strong foundation for the field’s future. With a plethora of prospects for both investors and entrepreneurs looking to shape the future of this multi-billion dollar business, Malta Week will bring together industry giants among the affiliates, operators, and suppliers of the gaming sector.