From a business perspective, different regions make different markets, and different markets require different approaches — that’s how trade has worked for centuries.
The esports industry, on one hand, is universal in its virtuality. We convert real money to in-game currency, and we trade virtual money for virtual goods and services, no matter the market.
However, and people in many countries, such as Brazil or India, still lack access to cashless forms of payment, and those that make cashless transactions often don’t have bank accounts. These emerging markets show enormous potential for esports and gaming, but entering such a market can be problematic for a business that exists purely online.
AstroPay, a payment company with years of experience in emerging markets, claims it’s here to help esports companies with navigating specific-market needs, and with developing their businesses in these regions. Mikael Lijtenstein, CEO of AstroPay, spoke to Esports Insider about the challenges and specificities of emerging markets.
AstroPay: Emerging markets, new solutions
“When speaking about emerging markets, it is paramount to understand that they are integrated by a patchwork of cultures, customs, languages and ideas that require a deep understanding,” he said.
“Compared to developed ones, emerging markets have different needs, and we devote a lot of resources to understanding them. Knowing how users like to pay, which electronic devices they use, the technology available to them and their connectivity is a way of being local. Based on that, you can provide a sense of security within your offered payment process.”
After all, it’s human nature to pick what we know when making decisions. “Our users make a vote of confidence every time they choose a payment option, and in most cases, the choice is due to familiarity. Hence, offering renowned local payment methods is most valued in these regions,” Lijtenstein said.
Looking closely at India, one of AstroPay’s main markets, Lijtenstein sees a great opportunity for the esports industry: “India is a giant which is about to see a significant boost in the near future. The growth of cellular internet, as well as more accessible fibre-internet connections, makes us believe that esports will grow exponentially in the region.”
In fact, it already is. The Indian esports audience reached 17 million in 2020, compared to six million in 2017, according to an Inc42 report on the esports landscape in India.
However, many of these users are unbanked or find it difficult to access digital money. That’s where AstroPay comes in, giving them the possibility to have a prepaid AstroPay card or to use an AstroPay digital wallet on international sites while using renowned local payment methods.
“In India, cash has still a very strong presence, although the growth possibilities for digital payments are endless. Its good-quality financial system makes it possible for digital payment methods to develop their operations in this region, while its level of sophistication and connectivity gives us opportunities to reach more users and enables us to provide them with a high-quality service across the country,” Lijtenstein said.
Mobile solutions in India
One of the defining characteristics of the Indian market is that it’s dominated by mobile gaming. “In terms of esports and gaming, mobile use is enormous,” he said. “Monetisation is evolving in the region with an increasing number of freemium games being developed, which helps the market growth in a mutually beneficial way for every party.
“It’s an incredibly fast-moving market that is fascinating to witness and exciting to be a part of.”
So how can a payment company help with esports development in an emerging market like India? Lijtenstein explained: “We believe we can be an entry point for those operators who don’t necessarily know and understand the Indian market as well as we do and for those who have difficulties with engaging with an audience there.
“Because credit-card usage is limited, lots of merchants and brands are unable to provide proper payment solutions to the users they are trying to reach, considerably limiting their possibilities in the region.”
Astropay can provide instant access to its own growing pool of users, together with a secure payment solution to reach them. “This way, esports companies and tournament organisers can easily hand in prizes and giveaways in the form that participants are already familiar with,” Lijtenstein said.
“All in all, it’s a mutually beneficial situation where we help merchants and brands struggling in the region, along with giving our users more ways to earn, exchange and spend their money while avoiding currency and payment-method challenges.”
AstroPay’s recipe for succeeding in emerging markets is simple — listen closely to customers and give them the ability to make payments with simplicity and security, wherever they need to.