A passion among friends for betting on sports events has led to the creation of a new South African start-up that is wagering that the future of betting lies in peer-to-peer technology.
The idea behind Wayja came from the “human experience” of the founders, co-founder and CEO Reece Jacobsen said in an interview with TechCentral.
“We all love to make bets with our friends and colleagues, be it on sport, fantasy leagues, SuperBru or golf. We saw an opportunity that would allow for all these social bets to be taken into a fun-to-use, quick and cashless environment,” Jacobsen said.
“People betting with their peers is nothing new; we’ve tracked bets being made as far back as ancient Greece. What Wayja aims to solve is the headache of trying to settle these bets with cash when there’s no cash around – because who carries cash anymore?”
Unlike many other betting platforms, Wayja focuses exclusively on bets that are made and settled among peers. “Wayja itself offers no odds, but simply provides a platform to allow friends to bet on quite literally anything they can think of.”
Jacobsen said peer-to-peer, or P2P, betting is a hassle, with people having to make EFTs to settle debts, and often bets aren’t settled at all. “It is an administrative headache just to manage an average office pool, so we decided to build a platform to fix this.”
He said Wayja has first-mover advantage in P2P betting in Africa and is working hard to ensure it builds a market-leading position on the continent.
Other founders include Jacobsen’s brother Kieran, Clint Paterson (founder of sports communications agency Levergy) and Clinton Holroyd (the former chief financial officer of Rain and Wayja’s chief operating officer). Duncan Simpson-Craib, an early investor in Rain, is a shareholder, too.
The platform allows users to bet on just about anything – who will lose 10kg the quickest, for example, or who will win an arm wrestle? “It’s limited only by the creativity of the people setting up the bets.”
One early bet, placed when Jacob Zuma was sent to jail, was on how many consecutive days the former president would spend in prison. “Most of us overshot it – the winning bet was 15 days,” Jacobsen said.
Bets can be more complex, too. If a user wants to set up a bet about who will win the Premier League, they can make that bet discoverable to all other users on the platform.
Wayja creates platform-wide pool bets for its users. Other bets, such as which player will score the first try in a Springboks game, are left to users.
Jacobsen believes the market for P2P betting in South Africa, and Africa more broadly, is potentially huge. “The value of the African gambling market was pinned at a little over US$3-billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at 7% annually to 2030, to $5.6-billion,” he said. “Online betting is said to account for 20% of that market and is expected to increase as a proportion of the total. Wayja’s simple goal is to tap into this market by offering a uniquely different, socially led experience.
“It’s no secret that sports betting has exploded in Africa with the proliferation of more betting providers and better technology. This has given way to millions of bettors across the continent. We’re ambitious in our goal to become the preeminent peer-to-peer platform in major African markets and possibly beyond as well.”
Wayja, which has just about a thousand users, makes money by charging a 10% fee on uploads and 2% on wallet withdrawals. But this model is likely to evolve, Jacobsen said. Sponsored pools are one option, where a brand could run a Wayja pool.
How it works
During settlement, money is upload to a winning bettor’s wallet. As the user places bets, money leaves their wallet and sits in escrow until the bet is settled. Users must go through a Fica process prior to withdrawing money from the wallet to comply with South African financial sector rules. As Wayja expands into new markets, it will have to comply with regulations specific to those markets, Jacobsen said.
Technically, explains COO Holroyd, Wayja is an online platform that “administrates informal social bets”. Under the Fica legislation, is it a registered money remitter — an entity that transfers money to someone else on a customer’s behalf. The company charges a service fee to gain access to the platform. It is not a bookmaker and does not accept, create or participate in any bet. Wayja also does not derive any gain or loss from the outcome of any informal social bet.
The platform is Web-based for now, though Android and iOS apps are in development in should be released in the next couple of months. – © 2022 NewsCentral Media