I attended yesterday a very interesting seminar organized by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China on "challenges and opportunities in the eCommerce market". The speaker was bwin's CTO Dr. Thomas Kiessling.
bwin, now the world's largest online gaming company
bwin is the world's leading publicly-listed online gaming platform after its merger with British gaming firm PartyGaming in July 2010. It's an Austrian based online betting company which offers sports betting, poker, casino games, soft and skill games to more than 20 million users in 25 countries.
Among the 1,600 bwin employees, Dr. Thomas Kiessling manages 750 people in Vienna, Romania, Poland and Stockholm, including 320 developers.
Localization is vital to succeed in eCommerce
When you talk about eCommerce, localization is a key success factor. You have to customize your eCommerce for a particular geographical market (it can be a country or a region) in order to understand your local target customer base.
What is important to realize is that it goes beyond simple translation of products.
- Customize sport offerings for local markets ;
- Local domain names utilized ;
- Local payment methods ordered by consumer preferences.
Due to the differences of the markets and regulation, bwin has also to face many challenges like KYC (Know Your Customer), AML (Anti-Money Laundering), customer verification, content and payments.
Why localization is important: example of payment methods
bwin offers more than 100 different payment methods. Why that? Because despite the open market, the EU is a good example of a highly heterogeneous environment where many cultural differences still remain among the countries.
Europeans do not have the same trust and usage towards payment methods. bwin has to offer several payment methods for each specific country. For instance, while bank transfers are the preferred payment method in Germany, the French will preferentially pay with credit card.
By the way, Globally credit card usage is on the decline while online banking usage is rising.
Moreover, Dr. Thomas Kiessling says that fraud management is a topical issue for bwin. He claims that fraud makes-up 1% of all eCommerce transactions and car-not-present fraud is on the rise.
bwin in China
As you may know, online sports betting, poker and casino games are forbidden in China. However, bwin decided to open offices in Beijing in 2007 in order to find opportunities and study the Chinese market.
In case of an opening of the market, bwin China wants to be ready. bwin is also assessing the possibility of joint ventures given China's market specificities.
bwin's CSR: responsible gaming
A dedicated Corporate Social Responsibility department of the company guarantees that products are designed in a way that offers maximum social responsibility: protection of minors, protection against manipulation of bets as well as prevention of gaming addiction.
In order to prevent users from gaming addiction, bwin develops software that can detect patterns among possible addicted users. However, due to strong European regulation about privacy, bwin's main challenge is to find a right balance between personal data usage and responsible gaming.
bwin also supports research in this field in a joint project with Harvard Medical School.
China's leading search engine Baidu launched a new service allowing users to search the web via a Chinese handwriting input method.
Baidu's handwriting input method
If you go to Baidu.com, you now have the possibility to use the handwriting input method. It means that you can use your computer mouse to write down the strokes of the Chinese character keywords in the search box.
Based on the shapes of the Chinese characters, Baidu's Chinese character recognition and keyword association functions will provide several possible characters for users to choose. In addition, users can make changes and deletions to the input content.
The new service doesn't require the installation of any web plug-in and can be started by a simple click on the search engine page (手写).
Social search service
A representative in charge of Baidu's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program explained that though the growing number of Internet users in China, Chinese Internet population is still diversified.
Some people, notably old and young users, might not be familiar with the existing input methods mainly based on Pinyin. It could be hard for them to complete searches on Baidu.com by inputting keywords with keyboards.
Moreover, it can be difficult to search for information related to some rarely used words with the Pinyin input methods if people don't know the pronunciations of these words.
Baidu's new web handwriting input method aims to solve these problems.