DFNN's Chairman Ramon Garcia and CEO Calvin Lim discuss pioneering companies in the Philippines and the country's growing gaming market on the Executive Series with SiGMA TV
From humble beginnings in a 3-man garage-office to true titans of the IT industry, the rise of Philippine electronic gaming operator DFNN has been nothing short of extraordinary. In this exclusive interview as part of the Executive Series, SiGMA TV sits down with Chairman Ramon Garcia and CEO Calvin Lim to discuss their journey to the top, fostering Philippine talent, and the nation's impressive gambling market.
Founded in 1999, DFNN is a computer integrated systems design company based in the Philippines, the destination for SiGMA Asia 2022. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, DFNN also possesses licenses for Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs), a sportsbetting exchange, and digit and pari-mutuel games with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). Since its launch, DFNN became the first to execute an IPO on the Philippine Stock Exchange using the newly created listing of their second board.
This second board features the amalgamation of " the best rules from Singapore, getting the best rules of the London stock exchange and then harmonizing it and bringing it [to the Philippines]", Ramon says. He adds: "you've seen a lot of other tech companies follow our path and that means we're building an industry".
Garcia shares how working at the Philippine Stock Exchange and observing the lack of representation with regard to Philippine talent motivated him to start DFNN:
Having headed the computer committee of the exchange and, again, loving the exchange itself - it's rules, owing a lot of my experiences to the learning that I've had from my peers in the exchange - I found it odd as the Philippines, where we had such great talent, that we were paying foreigners a huge amount of money [...]. I said, 'Why can't Filipinos do this?' and eventually I sat down with my wife on still at that time the old type of word processor, typed out a random business plan that was based that Filipinos can compete with the rest of the world.
Both Lim and Garcia believe that the Philippines hold a strong position in the global gambling market, particularly emphasising the potential for online gaming.
Garcia commented: "I can only speak from the regulatory standpoint that we have now become a leader [...] throughout Asia, we [the Philippines] are the first to actually legalise it and regulate it which puts us on par with Europe, the most advanced country". He also explained the importance of nurturing homegrown talent in this new venture:
The gaming industry, let's grow it because if we don't, the illegals will step in and very few people know the technologies that are in the gaming industry are one for one the same security you need in the telco industries [...] the same security you need for your stock exchange to grow. So as you develop, this will be pan-Asiatic and global in nature so, I hope we can accept that.
Lim chimes in, sharing: "Looking at the gaming industry and if you look globally, both land-based and online, it's actually considered a very high growth industry. In fact, I believe pre-pandemic the numbers that were recorded [sic], the growth in the Philippines was 20%. So that's significant".
Looking at the future, numbers will be similar growth [sic]. It is more skewed more towards the online gaming side - that will see higher growth than the land-based.
Garcia adds a particularly introspective point, speaking about the power of a merger between the online and offline gambling industries as opposed to the two competing with each other.
He contends that this aspect of the gambling industry is very similar to the banking industry, stating "the ATMs haven't disappeared, they still keep on opening bank branches. Your brokers haven't disappeared because of online. It isn't a catch-all.".
But can you imagine if you marry the strengths of both [online and offline gambling]? and that, for me, is going to be the magic.
WATCH the full interview below:
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