Nigeria’s developing online gaming sector has its own specificities, which are important to grasp in order to make profit from them. Nigeria's gross gaming revenues are predicted to rise by 16% over the next few years, according to PwC, which is a great opportunity for operators and suppliers to profit from. Despite the fact that over a third of Nigeria’s population bets over $4.5 million per day, making sports betting incredibly popular in Nigeria, brick and mortar still reigns supreme. What explains this is a limited connection, high data cost, limited mobile device capabilities, and more.
We did not back down, however, from the challenge when one of our clients pertaining to the Nigerian National Lottery, sought online-only operations. We were well aware that this was a unique strategy for the Nigerian market, and that it would necessitate creative thinking.
What makes the market unique?
Nigeria is a mobile-first country, with mobile devices accounting for 84% of all traffic. The country’s mobile market is dominated by low-cost, low-powered Android smartphones with limited storage. What’s more, the cheapest data package in Nigeria costs $0.28 for 50Mbs of data only, which is very expensive considering that, according to World Bank estimates, more than 68% of Nigerians have less than $1.25 to spend daily. Furthermore, 41% of mobile internet users only have access to 3G or 4G, and even then, connectivity is not seamless. They experience significant latency, and never-ending problems with mobile online payments.
Because of price sensitivity, the Opera Mini mobile browser, which is usually used in Extreme mode, has gained a lot of traction. However, this choice didn’t optimize the user experience. Because of low-powered devices, mass usage of Opera Mini browser, and other factors, Progressive Web Application (PWA), which initially emerged as a viable option for delivering an app-like experience on an Android device, wasn’t feasible eventually.
Despite the obstacles, our commitment to develop a solution that would provide clients with an unrivalled experience didn’t fade. It became obvious that developing a native app was the best option at hand.
Using the proper technology to reduce data traffic
We wanted to reduce data traffic, reduce latency, and provide an offline experience when necessary. For network activities, we used native libraries through HTTP/2, cached by our sophisticated on-device caching engine.
Another achievement was reducing the amount of data used by third-party content (games, tables, slots...). Users who were connected with cellular data receive immediate notifications regarding the amount of megabytes required for loading. Based on this, they can either go ahead or wait for a wi-fi connection to become available. We cache all of the games on local storage the first time until fully loaded, so the game will not burn mobile data the next time it is started.
Seamless experience despite its small size
We made sure our app came packaged with all of the essential native and web libraries and initial content, while still keeping the app size under 3.5MB, due to the device's restricted storage. The native app's tiny size raised download numbers even while using mobile internet. Regarding app updates, Code Push reduces each update to a minimal payload that can only be downloaded via a Wi-Fi connection.
We used Unicode to change all of the icons (where possible) and graphics, which allowed us to reduce the app package size by nearly 1 megabyte. We employ our own Media Proxy system, which automatically optimizes requested media assets.
Payments that are optimized for mobile devices
We integrated all major payment solutions that supported mobile devices, from Interswitch to USSD payment solutions, to handle payment-related concerns. We launched Opera's payment solution 'OPay', optimized for mobile devices, for the first time in Nigeria, in collaboration with Opera. Through their agent network, OPay offers entirely mobile-optimized payments by card and bank transfers, plus cash deposits and withdrawals (over 40K active agents).
The application is always evolving.
With biometric login, real-time sync with the website, and fluid operation on low-powered devices with sluggish connections, we created a solution that gives an uncompromised native-like experience. The software includes a built-in data usage meter that provides the user with extensive usage insights. Transparency about data consumption helped the app acquire user confidence fast, which resulted in more time spent in the app.
We are constantly creating new features based on app usage telemetry and customer input. 'Cache Sharing,' which allows app cache sharing through Bluetooth, is one of the next updates (such as pre-cached games). This functionality is especially important in suburbs where cellular internet access is the sole option.
Our underlying idea that a market's limits may be a source of opportunity was reinforced during this journey. When properly executed, the Elia Software Native App demonstrates that for online casinos and sports betting companies in Nigeria, a mobile-only strategy is viable.