Russell Colvin, FSB: Raising the retail bar
It’s been a transformative year for FSB generally in 2021 with the launch and growth of their retail product a key part of this success. Here, the company’s Head of Retail Russell Colvin explains how the provider has raised the bar with its retail solution.
SBC: FSB has been making great strides in the retail sector this year with an exciting, fresh offering for the market. Can you tell us how 2021 has gone for you?
RC: 2021 has been the culmination of a lot of hard work to get our retail proposition into a strong place. FSB is famed for it’s award-winning online offering, so it was important reputationally to bring a really strong retail product to the market.
I worked closely with our Chief Technical Officer Sam Lawrence to hone and develop our SSBT and EPOS products before we went to market and we went live with our first partnership in December 2020.
Over the next 12 months we have secured a number of prestigious partnerships with operators around the world. This includes market entry in North America via a multi-location sports wagering deal in South Dakota. It’s a year that sets us up nicely for 2022.
SBC: And can you sum up your strategy for us with regard to your retail offering?
RC: At the heart of it is empowering our partners with our product. That’s the ideology that flows through our strategy.
Being a bit more specific, I think initially it was about understanding the market and product landscape and getting a grip on what those core product elements were. From there, we wanted to take them up to the next level, raise the bar if you like.
SBC: Can you give any examples of how you’ve achieved this?
RC: Building a more intuitive CMS, creating slicker front-end customisation possibilities, offering a vastly improved horse racing product with ante-post betting and derivative markets, driving a better Bet Builder experience, richer deep linking possibilities and a more comprehensive translation service. I could go on…
The next step of course was to harness that real innovative spirit that is part of the DNA at FSB and introduce some industry-first tech to the solution.
SBC: This sounds exciting. Again, can you give any examples?
RC: Sure. The foundation of our retail solution is our Custodian platform which provides operators with an all-in-one view of their data and tools. Within that data is a vital view of real-time risk and liabilities.
I’ve worked for previous operators where the lack of a real-time view of risk has been a major issue and we feel that offering this up-to-the-minute understanding of liability and in-running risk is truly a game changer.
Protecting operators and their end users is another thing we’re passionate about at FSB. Over the last couple of years we’ve worked with innovative facial recognition tech that allows us to move with the ongoing tide of regulation. In collaboration with Orchadia Systems we’re now able to use facial recognition to create customer profiles in our Custodian platform and (via our KYC and AML tools) link these to self-exclusion databases.
For us, this is about taking the temperature of the market and building future-proof initiatives with responsible gambling in mind. For our partners, this is a tool that allows them to uphold their regulatory responsibilities in what is usually an anonymous environment. For their end users, this offers protection.
A third industry-first feature I’d like to mention is our tutorial videos. This content bridges the gap between traditional OTC retail and more modern on-premise engagement. These videos aim to nurse traditional retail audiences through the process of placing bets on SSBTs and the reaction we’ve had to them has been very strong.
SBC: You’ve had a long and successful career in the retail sector. What convinced you to make the move to FSB?
RC: Three reasons. First up, I believed in the organisation and its goals. When I joined two years ago, our CEO Dave McDowell explained his plan for growth across new regions, new verticals and new personnel. Since then we’ve gone live in North America, built a team in LatAm, signed a Tier 1 operator in Africa and secured a major WLA partnership in Europe. He’s been true to his word!
Secondly, the chance to get my hands dirty and work with our CTO Sam Lawrence on the product was an opportunity too good to turn down. Here was a way of funneling all my sector knowledge into an evolving proposition.
And thirdly, the people. I’ve mentioned our co-founders Dave and Sam, but the fact that FSB continues to hire top talent like former Kambi & IGT exec Ian Freeman was a key reason for joining.
SBC: And finally, can you give us any insight into FSB’s plans for 2022?
RC: It’s going to be another busy year. We’re going to raise the bar further when it comes to our existing offering and continue to deliver industry-first innovative tech within the retail environment. The omni-channel opportunity is huge for us and we really want to build out that experience for players and partners so it’s truly seamless.
We have a strong pipeline of new partner announcements in Q1 to build on our established presence in Europe and North America. New markets are also on our radar with launches in Africa and Asia lined up for the first half of the year as we continue to significantly increase our global reach.