A Q&A with Peerplays – the blockchain comes to sports-betting

Go back

Bombproof is an overused term but with Peerplays (or the Peerplays Blockchain Standards Association to give it its full name) can lay more claim to the word than most startups. Originally called BunkerChain Labs, Peerplays utilises as its offices an ex-nuclear bunk in Canada once used by the country’s defence department. Peerplays offers a new third-generation blockchain programme called Graphene that can automatically connect players from around the world, enabling gaming that is – as the company says – “highly resistant to cheating.” Importantly, such a process would also eliminate the need for the infrastructure of centralised gambling companies – anyone can plug into the Peerplays API and the company will manage the betting transaction. Here GamCrowd talks to Jonathan Baha’i, president of the Peerplays Blockchain Standards Association, and Michael Maloney, director of intelligence, about how they believe Peerplays is set to disrupt the betting sector.

GamCrowd: The application of blockchain in sports-betting looks to be incredibly disruptive - do you think there is enough recognition of this at present and what it might mean for the gambling industry?
Jonathan Baha’i: 
Once Peerplays sports-betting is live, I think the benefits of being built directly on a blockchain - like fast settlements, user security and control of funds, and the unparalleled global accessibility that every participant has in Peerplays - will win over many users. It may not seem like there is enough recognition in the industry right now simply because there are not any successful examples of fully blockchain-based betting markets to hit the market yet.
Michael Maloney: The blockchain promises many improvements to the betting experience, opening up brand-new possibilities about who can bet, where (geographically) they can bet from, and how bets are placed and settled. I think this will make it very difficult for traditional wagering platforms to compete with Peerplays.

GamCrowd: Can you explain (in layman's terms) the technology that lies behind the Peerplays concept? What blockchain system is being used, for instance?
Michael Maloney:
Peerplays is a third-generation blockchain technology which integrates stakeholder voting to manage the platform, and uses automatic profit-sharing to distribute the fees and commissions paid by users of the platform to its stakeholders. Users of the Peerplays platform don’t need to hold Peerplays tokens, but instead they can wager with any digital currency they wish.
Jonathan Baha’i: Normally when you use an online service there is a central entity involved - be it a corporation or government - that is determining the rules and regulations that govern everything from your privacy to what you can and cannot do on the services provided. With Peerplays, it is (PPY) token holders who make decisions about these matters. Because the governance and decision-making process involves multiple parties from around the world, it will likely be very difficult for third parties to influence the decisions made by the stakeholders.

GamCrowd: Do you think that most sports-betting customers will have to make a cognitive leap in order to understand the concept behind blockchain-based peer-to-peer betting?
Jonathan Baha’i:
We have designed Peerplays to deliver a superior user experience and provably-fair transparency unseen in the current industry. I don’t think users will have difficulty deciding whether to place bets on Peerplays (a transparent platform) or a closed source server-side platform which has less accountability towards fairness.
Michael Maloney: Anyone familiar with first-generation blockchain technology (sending and receiving bitcoin, for example) can easily use Peerplays to place their bets. Although the Peerplays blockchain itself is quite complex, players do not need to understand the underlying technology in order to wager.

GamCrowd: How do you see blockchain disrupting the relationship between sports-betting players and the regulators?
Michael Maloney:
The blockchain brings freedom of accessibility, but it also allows for complete transparency like never before. Since all information about each bet is publicly verifiable, suspicious betting patterns can be identified publicly, which should be a boon to regulators. That said, Blockchain technology will probably continue to present difficult challenges for regulators in the future, regardless of the industry to which it is applied.
Jonathan Baha’i: The Peerplays blockchain is a decentralized entity and publically verifiable software code that players can trust. It is the network participants who globally hold Peerplays and vote on how things should operate that effectively become the regulators.

GamCrowd: What are the biggest blocks to adoption here? Is it consumer perception or the existing sports-betting industry?
Michael Maloney:
I think there is more excitement than apprehension coming from the industry, but onboarding customers is still the biggest concern with most blockchain projects. Everyone knows that there’s a learning curve to using digital currencies, and this has been a barrier to entry for many blockchain projects in the past. Peerplays is working to solve this problem by producing simple, user-friendly interfaces, and producing comprehensive support materials and tutorials. Rather than fighting the reality of the learning curve, we are embracing it.

GamCrowd: What other products are you keen on utilising blockchain for?
Michael Maloney:
I am always dreaming up new ideas. Perhaps some are brilliant and some are crazier than I’d care to admit, but my primary focus for the next few years is on designing and building a number of consumer-facing applications for the Peerplays blockchain ecosystem.

GamCrowd: Lastly, what type of timeframes do you think we are tailing about for mass adoption?
Michael Maloney:
Peerplays is building an industrial-scalable platform, capable of supporting many millions of users, because we fully expect that level of load on the network. Most people underestimate the current state of blockchain technology - since many of the current projects are just not prepared or capable of delivering what they have promised. Timeframes are difficult to estimate, but off the cuff I would say that the fall 2017 we will begin to see a few additional test cases in the industry, and perhaps 2018 World Cup soccer might be a good opportunity to bring in a nice influx of new users.