In this interview, Curtis Roach from SiGMA News reaches out to Tumaini Maligana, Country Manager for Parimatch Tanzania to hear his perspective on the impact of the pandemic and what the future holds for this burgeoning digital market
The East African iGaming market has been a major growth hub in recent years, spurred on by its advancements in mobile payments and telecoms infrastructure. Kenya is often mentioned as the market leader in this region but there is a lot to be said for its neighbour, Tanzania, also experiencing healthy growth in their market.
There are still some key challenges in this region that need to be overcome before it’s potential to become a giant in the African iGaming market is realised.
How did the COVID pandemic impact the Tanzanian gaming market? What did you learn that can be used to your advantage moving forward?
Everyone was in shock and didn’t know what to do. We, at Parimatch, didn’t have a casino product yet so we experienced a lot of player inactivity during this initial period and many of our players moved to our competitors who had casino products. We learnt that we need to have other product options for our players. When live sports was first shutdown, we immediately applied for a casino license and we were officially awarded the license in May. It was a relatively quick process. We started aggressively marketing our casino products and very quickly the vast majority of our revenue was coming from casino. Even after live sport was brought back to our screens, casino continued to contribute to the majority of our income. Virtual games and slot games have also played a big role in our non-sports offerings. These types of games were not well known before but are now very popular.
Another big lesson learned is the importance of education on these new products to both customers and our staff. We had to train our agents and customer support team so that they were also well aware of product changes and most importantly, the dynamics of the new games coming to market to avoid them from giving wrong information and backfiring. We had a recent incident where a customer support operative told a customer that a virtual match was a real event which in-turn caused us a lot of PR issues.
How did conversion from retail to online effect player behaviour?
Since we had different products in our retail shops to what we offered online, we weren’t able to get a true measurement of activity to really understand what the true conversion ratio was. We created a sample group of retail clients and tracked their whole journey and made observations based on this. We observed that there was a strong online conversion for these clients, but we also experienced huge online customer churn.
Customer surveys showed us that they had a fear of change with the platform and new style of gaming product that they didn’t fully understand how to play. Understanding the new product was taking too much effort for the customers when they can just go to our competitors for more familiar products. Also, we started our online conversion campaign on the outer regions and neglected the mega city, Dar es Salaam, on purpose because we wanted to test our online strategy in smaller areas before scaling up. In these regions the internet and smart phone penetration is very low which, in hindsight, was probably a key factor in the delayed online take up of our customers.
From speaking with Tumaini it’s clear that the initial impact of the pandemic and lack of live sports hit them hard. This served as the catalyst needed to innovate and bring new products to market, enabling them to attract a new type of customer. This, of course, did not come without it’s challenges and Tumaini admits that customer churn was high. But learning from these experiences and being adaptable has served Parimatch Tanzania well as they are continuing their growth through a range of new products and interacting with their customers in a whole new way. In Part 2 of our conversation, we will explore the best solutions for overcoming these regional challenges and what aspects of the well experienced European market that can also adopted to help improve growth going forward.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this interview, out on Monday!
SiGMA Group releases its latest publication
SiGMA is proud to announce that the 13th edition of SiGMA magazine is now available online here. The magazine is packed with quality content, interviews and features coming from four different continents around the world - including Europe, Asia, Africa and LatAm. The magazine will be distributed by post to leading gaming and business companies worldwide. Should you wish to be featured in the next issue please contact Katy Micallef.