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Bridging the gap

Hyperion CEO and co-founder Stav Zilbershtein. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Hyperion CEO and co-founder Stav Zilbershtein. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The growth of the local iGaming sector is stretching Malta’s human resources. This is where we come in, says Hyperion CEO and co-founder Stav Zilbershtein.

From a niche industry, iGaming in Malta has, in these past years, grown into one of the biggest contributors in the financial services sector and the local economy. It is an industry which also enjoys a significant spill-over, indirectly contributing to the demand for human resources, as well as positively affecting the real estate and entertainment sectors.

“The industry itself is mature – and as it continues to mature, we can see more countries decide to fully regulate iGaming,” says Hyperion CEO and co-founder Stav Zilbershtein.

“We see many EU countries that announce new regulations and this keeps the entry level in the market high.

“Only companies that can reorganise and comply with the quality of regulation standards that are set will survive and I think this is a very positive development.

“We also start seeing younger technology companies that innovate and come up with new solutions for both faster payments and new types of iGaming experiences.

“Overall, the industry is ready for its next leap.”

Zilbershtein also thinks that iGaming in Malta still has room for growth.

“We will start seeing a rise in tech-related companies that serve as B2B solutions for existing providers but also new types of platforms that are more flexible and will replace the dinosaur systems that many operators rely on today.

“This will open the door for more startups and initiatives in the market since integrations will become easier. We will see also growth in the US markets that are starting to open again to online sports betting as well as e-sports that is constantly evolving and maturing into tomorrow’s mainstream.”

Such development obviously stretches Malta’s human resources.

“There are simply not enough re-sources to cater for the technological demand for talented software engineers,” says Zilbershtein.

“If we were to set up the entire research and development roadmaps and the visions of all product managers in the industry for 2019, we would see there is no way to accomplish that using the talents that are available in Malta.

“The bottom line is that there are too many companies and too little talent within reach. Relocation is not a viable approach because it’s too slow and expensive and most importantly it’s not really a scalable solution.

“That’s where Hyperion come in the picture. We set up an offshore development centre in the Ukraine where each client can have their own team of senior software engineers to work as an extension of their organisation.

“We also deploy only tailor-made dedicated teams per client. So team members never get rotated or moved in the middle of a project – which is usually what happens in traditional IT staffing solutions.

“We stayed away from that model because we believe it’s harmful for the clients. The dedicated teams’ solution works very well with clients in Malta and we already have 100 people in our development centre in the Ukraine working for clients in Malta.”

There are other gaps in the iGaming sector.

“The main HR gaps that we see is less about whether talents from certain frameworks are available in general as much as we see the local market in Malta and in the UK as a main bottleneck.

“If you already managed to find talents locally, there will be too few of them. Some will be heavily priced and in general you will struggle with efficient scaling. In Kharkiv where we have our development centre today – which is also the second largest city in Ukraine – we have 15 per cent of the developers in the country residing in that city. Seventy per cent of talents are senior or mid-level developers and there are roughly 25,000 IT talents of which 75 per cent of them are actual software developers.

“That makes a great pool of talent to recruit from and scale. We see availability of most technological frameworks including Angular, Node JS, C++ and many more.”

Given Malta’s pitch as ‘Blockchain Island’ and with the right legislation in place, blockchain is also disrupting most sectors. There is also an increase in blockchain casinos and other gaming innovations.

What does Zilbershtein think will be the next big thing in iGaming?

“I think that besides pay-to-play solutions and other churn rate reduction solutions for the industry we will see a rise in social casino features brought into the real iGaming platforms,” he says.

“The reason fantasy sports is so successful especially in the US market is because younger generations don’t feel it’s really betting but rather more of an activity to compete against friends and share a passion to sports with one another.

“The social element is extremely crucial to keep the industry viable and people are less interested in isolated gaming experiences where they are alone while playing.

“In my opinion companies that will understand this and start moving into that direction will thrive and others that won’t stick their necks out into innovation in this regard will die.”

Hyperion was recently present at the Malta Blockchain Summit and will also be at Sigma, where Zilbershtein will also be speaking.

“My main message in the talk I will be giving is to explain where the IT traditional sourcing solutions have failed so far and what can be done better.

“Our goal is to bring a new approach to sourcing and prove that it can serve you just as it should by creating a true extension of an organisation’s IT department while allowing it to enjoy increased performance, flexible scalability while being significantly more cost-effective than local solutions.”

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