Open your mind to the possibilities of crypto
02 February 2018
With more people than ever to live an ever-greater proportion of their lives in crypto, online gamers who use these currencies can be some of the stickiest around. John Caldwell, director of advocacy at the Isle of Man-based Double C foundation, explains what it takes to rework a disused crypto-currency so it’s fit for purpose in 2018, and why the gaming industry should open its mind to the possibilities of crypto.
Tell us a bit about the Double C Foundation. Is it right to say your primary goal is to educate the industry on cryptocurrencies?
The foundation is a non-profit, which is commonplace in crypto, and necessary due to the decentralised nature of cryptos themselves. There aren’t things like assets and IPs in a decentralised model, but you still need some infrastructure to provide things like governance, technological support and marketing. So the foundation model is quite common – Bitcoin has one, Ethereum has one, and we’re using the same playbook with our own cryptocurrency, CasinoCoin.
But to answer your question, yes - education is absolutely central what we’re trying to do. Most of my 2017 was actually 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, why we feel it’s better and generally educate them on crypto to debunk a lot of the early myths, the issues that plagued crypto in the early days.
With Bitcoin splashed all over the news, has this made your job easier, or do people still associate crypto-currencies primarily with grey markets and an anti-regulatory stance?
It’s funny, when I’d just started talking to people in the industry, in general 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 on a daily basis – if not an hourly basis.
People do still, without question, associate crypto with grey markets. That’s the irony here: 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.
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 last year 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 first ‘alts’ – coins that are a type of Bitcoin – 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 have a very highly 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 actually very proud of it, and I feel like we’ve built a really great product. It’s really forward-thinking, and it’s trying to lead beyond gambling, trying to lead in certain ways as it relates to crypto itself.
From an operator’s perspective, what are the benefits of using CasinoCoin?
CasinoCoin is more than just a currency; we’ve built an entire feature-laden wallet, which has KYC, AML, self-exclusion and responsible gambling all built in at the wallet level. This means the operator has a lot of benefits that they wouldn’t have with traditional processes that are around 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 increasingly are people who want to live their lives in crypto to the greatest degree possible, and so 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. And so, from their perspective, we’re about sending them customers and about doing it 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 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 absolutely thrilled with the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission 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 us to be stand partners at a show the size of ICE, and we’re really pleased and incredibly proud 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.