Parimatch focuses on using technology to make its product safe for users.
The iGaming Parimatch brand has been working diligently in India to try to create a space for enthusiasts to gamble for leisure and indulge in monitored online betting games. Team Parimatch intends to expand its footprint in India by creating work opportunities as well as investment opportunities in one of the fastest growing sectors, inevitably giving a boost to the Indian economy in the process.
In a virtual interaction, PMI CEO Anton Rublievskyi and PMI CMO Dmitriy Belianin shared their views on the challenges the company is facing during the pandemic and how they came up with a counter-strategy to address them. The senior PMI officials also shared how they wanted to make online betting safer for their customers through better technology.
While the pandemic has been a huge setback for many businesses, it has been a boom for the online gaming industry and for esports, which have seen significant growth, especially during lockdowns, as there are no had nothing else to do. So what innovations did Parimatch come up with to take the brand to the next level?
Anton Rublievsky: I remember the first months of Covid. There was a big drop in all possible income indicators because there was no sport. We are a sports betting company but we were unable to offer sporting events, and table tennis is a sport we had 24 hours a day, so Parimatch invested in different types of startups and businesses of the gaming industry. And one of our investments is a company based in Ukraine, which organizes table tennis events 24/7. So that was our rescue. And I think at that time our table tennis players were famous in every possible country in the world. India was one of those countries.
During the pandemic, many companies have transformed into technology companies, such as Parimatch, as most retail stores have been closed. Our revenue dropped over 60% to 70% for a short time when there were no events, and slowly we shifted our focus to virtual games, different events and sports that were available at that time, like Belarusian football. So, during this period, we have focused on providing as many different virtual cricket, football and table tennis events as possible. And as soon as the sport started coming back, we saw a pretty good migration from offline to online. Thus, all possible activities that were done offline in different countries have been moved online.
Due to Covid restrictions, people have turned to the internet and we have seen that they are spending a lot of time on their smartphones.
Dimitri Belianin: Parimatch was launched in India maybe a month before Covid arrived. We were actually supposed to start getting a lot of gaming traffic. But we didn’t expect to see this kind of engagement from our audience. And I guess one of the main reasons for that is that when people were working from home, they were always looking for any type of entertainment. And we were there just in time to bring them the safest way to be entertained. Then you don’t have to go anywhere else, you can sit at home with your family and play good games in one of the common sports, where players play against each other – tennis has been a big part of our success. So we’ve done a lot of things and I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve done so well in India during Covid because we’ve been able to adjust and adapt to the type of entertainment that people were looking for.
Anton Rublievsky: I remember those first months after we started. We had an emergency meeting to discuss how we are going to survive as a business as there were no sporting events and we only had ping pong. So we decided we needed to educate people about table tennis – we had pages on our website that talked about the rules of table tennis and the popularity of the sport. In the first month we experimented, we tried to provide as many events as possible on our platform so that people had options to bet on.
We all know that India is a huge market with many betting companies now coming forward to explore it. So how do you plan to expand your base in India in the coming years?
Anton Rublievsky: As a global company, we have become accustomed to being with big brands in all our markets. We have competition. And competition allows you to move faster to provide customers with different options. It takes us to cities where we’re always trying to find new ways to grow our brand, develop and improve our technology. So we don’t see any problem with global brands. We’re just doing what we’ve been doing for the last 5, 10, 15 years, in different countries. We are focused on building our brand, a strong brand that players can trust. We continue to support our customers in terms of all possible engagements with our product. We want to make interacting with our product safe and comfortable. This is our main priority. We only focus on our technology, our product, building and marketing our brand to help us grow and get our market share.
In terms of employment opportunities, what are your expectations vis-à-vis Esport?
Dimitri Belianin: Esports is not that big in India as there are two games, Counter-Strike and DOTA, and both are played on PC/Desktop. Historically, the way people in India have interacted online has been through smartphones. Thus, Pub-G is a more popular game in Esports but unfortunately the specifics of this game do not allow placing bets. Still, we do some activities in Esports.
The Esports niche is being developed in India right now, and we are seeing huge traction and interest in the industry. But, there is another path of development, where the focus is purely on mobile. And as part of Parimatch business across the world, we are trying to help niche businesses in India to become sports professionals. So we organized a few mobile Pub-G tournaments for India, generated huge interest and sponsored the prize, activities and tournament. This is something that allows small gamers from India to start their journey, and we also plan to support local Esports teams in this market. Because, as one of the biggest esports brands in the world, we’re here to support grassroots esports, and rural esports teams, by sponsoring them, so they can grow their skills to compete at a higher level.