ZenSports is a modern peer-to-peer sports betting marketplace where anyone can create and accept sports bets with anyone else in the world, without the need for a centralized bookmaker. ZenSports is built on the ICON Network, taking full advantage of the digital age and the efficiencies and advantages of blockchain. In less than a year after launch, ZenSports has quickly become one of the top ICON decentralized applications (DApps) and continues to make advancements and continually improve and expand the system. They’ve recently launched their own utility token, called SPORTS, which allows customers to take advantage of discounts, rewards, and a loyalty program on the platform when using this token. We desired to learn more about ZenSports and also their experiene building on the ICON ecosystem. We reached out to the ZenSports team and they were very receptive. We were given time to engage in a conversation with Mark Thomas, the Co-Founder and CEO of ZenSports. We learned more about ZenSports and came away with great impression of the DApp! The cover the interview throughout the rest of this article!
Q1: What made you choose ICON:
Mark: We met with ICON back in May 2018, and we were extremely impressed with not only the team and the technology, but also their vision for onboarding new DApps onto their protocol. The creation of the ICX Station accelerator in San Francisco made perfect sense for us to participate in because we were looking for guidance on how to help build a new DAapp on the blockchain. Both during and after the accelerator, they’ve been extremely helpful in every way. From helping promote us to their community to making intros to developers to being accessible on Slack anytime we have a question about how things should work.
Q2: How are things going with ZenSports? Where have you seen the greatest adoption (location wise)
Mark: Things are going great. We’ve achieved a ton of regulatory and customer/revenue traction in the past few months. On the regulatory side, we’ve secured our Malta entity, Curacao license, App/Play Store approvals, and PaySafe/Skrill integrations. On the customer/revenue side, we’re growing at a steady clip with basically no spend on marketing so far. Our largest adoption so far has come from Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia.
Q3: I noticed recent addition of in-game betting, would you care to share more details on this?
Mark: Yes! We launched in-game betting last month, and we believe that in-game betting will someday make up the majority of bets in our DApp. The reason for this is that as fans are watching games on TV and in-person, they’re looking for something additional to get excited about beyond just rooting for their favorite team or player. By being able to place a bet in-game, it adds an additional level of excitement that might not otherwise exist. This is especially true in games that are blowouts and where isn’t much mystery as to what the outcome will be. The other really good use case for in-game betting is that if you placed a bet on a game before it started, and that bet looks like it might be a loser, you could hedge your previous bet with an in-game bet based on new information that you see while you’re watching. Lastly, in-game betting is perfect for betting with friends while watching a game together.
Q4: What is unique about your betting platform compared to others (Bovada, etc), or other token-based (such as Tron and EOS have a few).
Mark: We think there are 5 combined platform features that ZenSports has that make us 10x better than the competition. No other platform combines all 5 of these elements to deliver as delightful of a betting experience as we do:
1) Mobile — we are a mobile-first product with our native iOS and Android mobile DApps. In fact, we’re mobile only. We don’t even have a web product. We feel that this mobile first philosophy has paid off well in attracting Millennials and Generation Z to our app. In addition, in developing parts of the world where maybe everyone doesn’t have access to a computer, but they do have a smart phone, we’re their only betting option.
2) Peer-to-peer — By being exclusively peer-to-peer, bettors in our app feel more comfortable that they’re betting against other bettors that are like themselves instead of a traditional bookmaker. There are numerous problems with traditional bookmakers, but just a few of those problems are the exorbitant fees that bookmakers charge, the huge conflict of interest that they only make money when you lose, and the lack of transparency into how everything is run.
3) SPORTS utility token — We just launched our new SPORTS utility token within ZenSports this week. Customers in ZenSports are able to use SPORTS for placing bets, paying discounted betting fees, getting cash back for reaching certain betting volumes, and earning bonuses for performing other actions within the ZenSports app. But our goal is much bigger than just having SPORTS be used within ZenSports. It’s also our goal to partner with sports leagues, apparel manufacturers, ticket brands, and other gaming companies to incorporate SPORTS into their payment and loyalty ecosystems.
4) Decentralized betting system — Currently, ZenSports is “semi-decentralized.” This means that all of the betting and results are handled entirely by the marketplace (not ZenSports). So customers can fully trust that results aren’t being decided by a bookmaker. Our technology platform is currently sitting on our servers instead of the blockchain, so in this regard, it’s still somewhat centralized. However, it’s definitely our goal to move all of our betting and other contracts to the blockchain, thereby providing additional transparency and full decentralization of the entire product.
5) Social — While bettors within ZenSports can remain anonymous at all times, we also have a lot of features that make ZenSports much more social than traditional sports betting platforms. For example, ZenSports offers instant messaging, group chats, sharing of stories, pictures, videos, and even live streaming.
Other products have one or two of these features, but none of them combine all 5 into a super simple and clean mobile product like ZenSports does.
Q5: Anything else you’d like to share with the community?
Mark: At ZenSports, we’ve taken the approach of building a real product that people actually want to use, and using cryptocurrencies and blockchain second to streamline and create a better product experience. It’s because of this approach that we feel we’re well-poised to become one of the most successful DApps on the planet.
As you can see, ZenSports is taking advantage of the digital age, building a mobile-only decentralized sports betting marketplace, powered by the ICON Network. As a supporter of the ICON Network, I was very pleased to hear of the great support and experience that ZenSports had working with ICON. From the interview, it is clear that ZenSports is just getting started. They have made excellent progress but have well thought out and ambitious plans for the future. They have an excellent leader in Mark, a great technical team, and a strong blockchain and support system from ICON. We wish ZenSports the best of luck and want to again thank them for giving us the time to learn more about their DApp!