In an interview with BitcoinBuster, Nick Garner, Founder of Bitcoin casino Oshi.io, spoke about the way Oshi got its unique style, how it managed to offer casino games for every taste, why Oshi is a niche brand, and where its name comes from.
How did an idea of an online casino come to your mind?
I’ve been working on iGaming for a long time, having started as a marketing manager in Betfair back in 2006 and then senior marketing manager in Unibet 2010 and then in 2012 I founded a successful iGaming digital marketing agency. All this marketing experience gave me some insight into the industry and started to give me confidence in setting up some kind of iGaming brand.
Then in 2013, when I had my agency I picked up two Bitcoin casino clients and at that point, I knew something interesting was going on with the gambling industry.
I’ve always believed opportunity comes when there is a change. The arrival of the Internet was a massive change, which led to online gambling as we know it and now the arrival and acceptance of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, id est money and transactions for the Internet is going to have another enormous long-term impact on iGaming.
Why is a cryptocurrency interesting? It’s an enabler for people who want to gamble. The Internet is global and gambling is a part of every person’s DNA at some level or another. Cryptocurrency gives access to gambling that government-backed currency could never do.
Simply, cryptocurrency gambling is fulfilling a massive latent market need.
So, you ask how did the idea of a casino come to mind? Cryptocurrency, libertarianism and enablement.
What’s in a name: Why Oshi?
Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym for the group of coders who came up with Bitcoin. Satoshi is also the smallest denomination of Bitcoin. I wanted a very short domain name, tied in with the heritage of Bitcoin and I figured Sat…oshi would be a good place to start. Fortunately, the .io domain name was available, and here we are.
I’ve often wondered what other name would have worked better. BitStarz was very clever, because it didn’t contravene copyright with PokerStars, but created certain brand associations which consumers obviously like.
I had thought of ‘Vegas’ names like goldenwinner.com, but it’s all a bit cheesy and I’ve always felt names should have stories and meaning. And now you know, Oshi as Satoshi Nakamoto.
The Oshi’s design stands out on the background of other casinos. What were your requirements for the concept and design?
This is a huge subject. And I don’t think Oshi is as good as it could be, which is why we are doing a big brand tidy up in the fairly near future.
Nick explains in detail how he approached such issues as utility and appearance of the future casino.
The trouble with casinos is they are mostly the same. And when we started on our voyage with Oshi, we decided to build our own front-end software because we wanted to solve some big problems for casino players:
- finding new casino games;
- picking the welcome bonus you want, instead of just taking what you’re given;
- having random daily reload bonuses.
So at the beginning of the Oshi journey, we did a large piece of technology work to solve these problems for customers. The last couple of years, having spent a huge amount of time tracking player issues and learning what consumers really want, I’ve come to a conclusion: casino players love uncertainty. So everything about Oshi and any good casino brand should be about creating uncertainty in a positive way. Hence the daily reload bonuses we run.
On the flipside, customer services are unbelievably important for keeping customers loyal to a brand. Of course, customer services have nothing to do with the look and feel of a casino, but it is the life-and-death of a great brand. It’s difficult to highlight this enough. The only way we’ve been able to get this message through is from customer reviews on third-party sites.
Satoshi Nakamoto is Japanese. You could argue Bitcoin is anchored with Japanese culture. I wanted to honour this fact by including Japanese characters on various pages and having a busy homepage banner of a Tokyo street scene, which has been adapted with imagery from various game providers.
I figured a busy scene on the homepage is a bit like a busy restaurant. It feels like somebody is home.
As for the Oshi guy [character you meet at the homepage of the Oshi casino and that accompanies its logo, Editor’s note]… A couple of the team and I did a huge search for an animator who could come up with some kind of simple character that we could use as a mascot. After reviewing at least 150 portfolios, we came up with a Spanish illustrator who had done some interesting work that fitted what we thought the Oshi guy would be.
Around a year ago, we did some work to make him more ‘3d’ and I’m sure will bring him more to life in time.
The dark theme came about, because I noticed that entertainment sites like Netflix are nearly always dark, because it means you’re not distracted and you can focus on the movie. I figured casino games are a bit like immersive movies. Once you start engaging, you just get in the zone and enjoy. So, we adopted some of the colour palette from Netflix: the dark grey and red.
What is the basis for Oshi? How did you choose the platform and game providers?
For the reader who is new to the casino industry, there are 2 groups of brands:
- ones which have their own bonus, payment, game aggregation, customer services infrastructures. These would be Betfair, Uniber, Bet365, Casumo, etcetera;
- brands that use third-party platforms which provide the bonus engine, payments, game aggregation, customer services. Then the licensee id est Oshi in this case handles the marketing and gets involved in customer services and bonus decision-making.
Choosing the platform was very simple. The only standout crypto platform was SoftSwiss. Over the last 3 years Oshi has been around, I’ve had an opportunity to look at other platforms and I’m constantly impressed by how on point SoftSwiss is technology is.
SoftSwiss started out as a technology company and almost by accident got involved in cryptocurrency. Gambling and cryptocurrency are very good ‘bedfellows’ and SoftSwiss started building out their white label platform. There was a big demand from people like me and SoftSwiss has grown and matured well. When I look at other white label platforms, I’m still deeply impressed with what SoftSwiss have done.
However, we did something unusual: we built our own front end that allowed us to have some independence from the normal SoftSwiss casino site structure. So we have features no other casino will ever have, yet we have all the benefits of this powerful shared infrastructure from SoftSwiss.
Oshi is designed to make it easy to search for games. We are in the process of migrating our infrastructure to Amazon to handle more traffic and an even larger game library. At the moment we are at about 2250 games, across 8 currencies which means quite a lot of choice.
You ask how did we choose the game providers? And the answer is: we didn’t.
We make it easy for players to filter through this huge choice of games to find the ones they love. In time, we will probably end up with at least 3000 games. However, by getting the navigation right any number of games is okay.
A couple of things interest me about game providers. NetEnt are huge and with juggernaut brands like Starburst so Oshi obviously has to have game providers like Netent…
However, SoftSwiss games have done well. I think players like the simplicity and lightness of the games. I’m also impressed with Booming Games, who have some very interesting game features that give the slots games real rhythm and immersiveness. Another standout provider for me is MrSlotty, who have dipped into Japanese cartoon themes which I like.
In the end though, it’s not what I think, it’s what customers want and as long as we’ve got a game for everybody, our game library is working.
What does it take to build a successful online casino? Please share your experience.
Firstly, I would say Oshi is fairly successful, but compared to the mega crypto brands like mBit or BitStarz, we are a niche brand for a very specific player.
Having worked with mega brands for many years in marketing, great brands have got the relationship between customer loyalty and profit just about right.
Customer loyalty means players stick around and make playing on ‘Brand X’ a regular habit. In probability, players will lose money. For online gambling the house edge is around 3.5%. (This is a much thinner house edge than off-line casinos).
When players generate losses, it means the brand has money to do its marketing. Since the affiliate ecosystem is so integral to iGaming, brands spend probably a 60% of their marketing budget on affiliates and the rest would be a combination of search engine optimisation, content marketing and paid media. Affiliates want to work with brands that players love, because players generate revenue and the whole cycle perpetuates.
Somewhere in all of this is customer retention and the best way to keep customers is to solve big player issues when they arise.
Oshi has always been a niche brand, putting its resource back into technology, bonuses and customer services. Of course, you may criticise our customer services but we do our best and it’s something I personally keep a very close check on.
To summarise, I would say a successful casino is one where players are happy losing money, because they like gambling there. Honest, but true.
What is the portrait of a typical Oshi’s player?
Unlike a lot of sectors, it’s very difficult to pinpoint particular demographic for Oshi, but as I’ve mentioned before I keep a close check on customer services and I always like to read through player profiles to get a feel for who we communicate with.
The thing with the crypto casino is that it’s pseudo-anonymous. That means we assume in order for you to get your Bitcoin, you will have gone through a ‘know your customer’ [KYC, Editor’s note] process, so when you register as long as you’re not from a banned jurisdiction id est France, Israel, Netherlands et cetera then we will accept you as a customer.
The only time we’re going to ‘KYC’ crypto player is if we have suspicions they are from a banned jurisdiction or if they are attempting to withdraw a substantial amount of cash, in which case we do a ‘KYC’ check so we fulfil our obligations on anti-money laundering.
Upshot: a huge proportion of our players are unknown. They’ll use whatever email they want, they won’t necessarily give us contact information and they’ll access the site via VPN, through numerous different country territories over time.
For those reasons, I don’t know who the vast majority of our players are. However, if you play USD, EUR, CNY, SEK, NOK, RUB then we do ask for contact information. From that I can start to put together some kind of picture of our typical player.
Aside: fiat money id est currency with no intrinsic value other than the value attributed by a government in our case (‘fiat’ derives from the Latin ‘let it be’ [‘let it be done’, Editor’s note]).
And the typical Oshi player is:
- more often female than average for a casino;
- 30 to 40 years old;
- middle income and not always a professional;
- a lot of Australian players at the moment;
- a relatively high proportion of Scandinavian players as well.
What do they find appealing in Oshi? According to the reviews on the Internet, it seems to be the fast cash outs, the bonuses and game filtering.
From my experience with marketing, very few people can really articulate exactly why they like one brand over another and they often default to ‘I like the colour’ or ‘their customer services are helpful’. In reality, there is no simple answer for why people like Oshi over other brands.
I guess as a reader, maybe you should check Oshi out and see if you want to hang out with us.
Thank you, Nick!
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