Interview with Bernhard Blaha
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Bernhard Blaha, the co-founder of HEROcoin and herosphere.gg, is a serial entrepreneur, buzzing with new ideas that can change the present landscape of gaming industry. Blaha, who claims to “have more ideas every day than I have time to implement in a lifetime”, opens up in this interview about his HEROcoin and herosphere.gg and betting industry in general.
He foresees an “enormous” future for block chain technology in the betting arena. What follows is our wide-ranging interview with one of the young and vibrant potential change-makers in the betting industry. Read on:
I’d first like to ask can you begin with a few words about yourself ? It’s always nice to hear top-class professionals say a few words about themselves for our audience.
I am the Co-founder of HEROcoin & herosphere.gg. My responsibilities stretch from operational topics to finding legal & tax solutions. Having founded successful companies before, I bring practical expertise in addition to my knowledge gathered from my studies in technical (University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria) and economic (University of Applied Sciences Vienna) areas. I am a very early adopter of many technologies, ranging from home automation to cryptocurrencies.
You have co-founded two ventures: Herocoin.io & Herosphere.gg. Can you tell us more about how the two ventures have been going?
Sports has been a fascination for people since time immemorial. The emotions that are involved with winning and losing touch every fan. We loved little challenges with our friends or soccer teammates. But it’s a hassle to collect the money from everyone and document all the results. So my current co-founders and I created a platform with the goal of bringing back fun and joy to betting by allowing people to challenge their friends, family and colleagues on various sport events via an online platform called “the social bet“ back then. At the same time, the e-sports market started to grow rapidly.
Today, the most famous games are MOBA games like League of Legends and DOTA2, shooter games like Counter Strike and sport simulation games like FIFA. People follow the competitions live in stadiums or through live streams. As of August 2017, there have been 100 million people playing League of Legends only and there is an expected viewership of over 300 million people by 2020. Also, the fantasy element becomes more popular in e-sports. Just a couple of days ago the German authorities officially accepted e-gaming as sports and forecasts say e-sports will very soon overtake American Football regarding the fan size.
All that made us decide to focus our resources and build herosphere.gg.
Today our platform www.herosphere.gg counts over 250,000 registered users.
In order to take the product to the next level by fighting major issues the classic online betting industry faces today, we started to further explore how the blockchain technology could potentially help solving those problems: The HEROcoin (PLAY) was born – designed as a decentralized ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain.
What exactly do you mean by “the decentralized solution for online betting”?
Well, online betting, as it is, has been untouched for a long time. It has the paradigm “the house always wins” and is quite prone to manipulation. Users always bet against a bookmaker instead of each other and due to middlemen there are much higher costs involved.
The blockchain makes every single bet transparent, it allows real peer-to-peer betting, and it is much more resistant to attacks.
But because HEROcoin is an ERC20 token it can be much more than just a currency for gambling. The main goal is to create transparency, trust and security. In addition, 1% of all pots played is given back to all token holders. Additionally, anyone who creates contests for the community or a closed group is being rewarded. There is no bookmaker involved but the system runs the bets. HERO at the same time creates a transparent network, allowing a natural expansion by its own community. It is designed so that not only our own platform but existing providers too can implement HERO and emerging ones can build their systems on our HERO network and community.
At Herocoin.io, your main intention appears to be to change the “the house always wins” phenomenon in the traditional betting. But how beneficial do you think it is going to be for the end user when compared with online betting exchanges like betfair.com?
betfair.com definitely brought an innovative aspect to the traditional world of betting and made an important step forward. But what we do is completely disrupt the industry. With betfair.com the “broker” is just another user. We actually created a new way of “betting” and not just simply improved it. herosphere .gg will be much more about fantasylike American Football. Also, you can create private contests just for your friends or community and challenge them. The pot stays within this group. HEROcoin will bring the aspect of fairness, transparency, lower risk of manipulation and can be used by anyone in order to build their idea on the existing infrastructure.
You have marked the end of 2018 as a deadline for completing the full development HEROcoin and the legal and financial aspects of its implementation. Can you shed more light on the remaining targets for its full deployment?
Right now we focus on the first re-launch of herosphere.gg, which will appear with a new design for the user and a state-of-the-art use of technology for the technical infrastructure. It does run already with more than 250,000 registered users, but will be lifted to the next level by Q2. From there we will step by step evolve the platform and see how the use case with implementing the HEROcoin over the next months will work.
For us the product is key! So we focus completely on developing a user-friendly product on the blockchain that is a lot of fun to use. We will also add more and more fantasy elements. But it does not stop there. As HEROcoin is designed to be integrated with any third party, we allow all of the traditional betting providers that see the potential to connect to our ecosystem. The upsides are very obvious: Nearly zero development effort and a lot of marketing benefits via our big HERO community.
In the long term, this means for HEROcoin to become the go-to tool for any betting provider who either wants to reduce payment provider fees or wants to increase trust levels with its users – which is every betting provider ever.
The goal for the next five years is both: to become the ecosystem for betting on the blockchain and grow one of the biggest e-sports communities.
How do you see the betting industry evolve in 2018? Any predictions on any disruptive technologies? We’d love to hear!
The potential of the blockchain is enormous. It can help to finally bring innovation to a business that has been operating on their own terms for ages, but my colleagues just come back from one of the biggest gambling fares – the ICE in London, where you can see that we are still at the beginning where everyone does know it’s coming and could completely change the entire industry as we know it but focuses and strategies aren’t clear yet.
Once users understand that with automated contracts on the blockchain, for example, direct pay-outs of prize money can be handled, they will push for a transformation to this new technology. They will also soon realize that costs are lower than in the traditional online betting.
As we see in the numbers, e-sports just started to become popular and will only start to enter the mass market within the next years. The next generation grows up with watching Twitch and Youtube bloggers rather than classic sport events on TV.
Media rights trade is becoming a serious business and is expected to grow from only $50 million in 2016 to over $300 million in 2020. The coming year will see the e-sports economy grow to $696 million, a year-on-year growth of 41.3%. Brands are expected to spend $517 million on e-sports.
On a related matter, we have yet to find the peak of what blockchain technology can actually do for the gamers: Oracle systems are, due to quickly rising, but low spread of blockchain usage, still months or years from getting relevance, but once they do they will allow for fully democratized betting systems. Those mechanics allow for the data that is provided by big data warehouses so far to be fetched and processed by users.
As for the online betting industry, it needs to jump on the train if it does not want to stay behind. As I have seen a lot of payment providers adding cryptocurrencies already to their portfolio, providers will start to evaluate not only the e-sports market but also blockchain possibilities.
Source: European Gaming Industry News