Victor Muoghalu: Revolutionising Nigeria’s Gaming Industry

Trickery and breach of trust are often the fate of customers who participate in gaming and lottery in Nigeria primarily due to transparency issues. However, with the launch of Kobobid Auctions, the most prominent gaming platform with the most interactive features in Africa, the gaming industry in Nigeria is being revolutionised.

The Chief Executive of Officer of the gaming firm, Victor Muoghalu in this interview with MARY NNAH explains how Kobobid is fueling interaction and excitement, as well as providing alternative ways for people to afford expensive goods and transform the negative image of too-cheap-to-be-true while improving people’s standard of living

What is Kobobid and how does it work?

Kobobid formation was born based on the following ideas: access, authenticity, fairness, and enjoyment. We thrive on the notion that everyone should have the opportunity to get the good things they want from life, to improve their general standard of living. This is why we’ve developed this business to place the opportunity to simply bid for what you want right at your fingertips. So, with as low as N100, Nigerians can win both cash and products by playing Kobobid in various games.

Over one year after entering the gaming industry, Kobobid has launched four games on the gaming website to drive a unique experience for different players and give Nigerians a feeling of absolute control when they play fun games and win cash or items without the need for any betting skill.

Kobobid games avail Nigerians an opportunity to play and win from game options like Kobobid Auctions, Kobobid Raffle Draw, Kobobid Fantasy Football, and Kobobid Scratch Cards from as low as N100. Players could win cash items ranging from N1k to N1,000,000 and products ranging from consumer electronics, home appliances, phones, and other gadgets.

The uber model aims to allow agents to play Kobobid games with interested players from any geo-location and earn commission on every sale they make.

The interesting part is that you don’t need any start-up capital to begin, all you need is an internet-enabled device to access the gaming website and you are good to start making money. Also, agents would be trained for free to enable them to understand everything about Kobobid games although the games are self-explanatory.

How is the gaming industry contributing to the Nigerian economy?

Victor Muoghalu

The gaming industry contributes to the economy. For instance, for every payment that comes in, the government is paid some sum in terms of Value-Added Tax (VAT), and taxes. We get these complaints from customers a lot. They don’t understand why they are paying VAT. They tell us they won N500,000 and they feel this is the sum they are supposed to collect. But someone has to pay taxes on their behalf. For every prize that goes out, there is VAT that goes straight to the government. And we take that out directly. For the goods that we put up, there are VATs on them that go straight to the government. We have to get our licence fees which go to the government. At the end of the quarter, the government still gets three percent of our gross revenue.

We are starting an agency model where anyone can become an agent for Kobobid and we are doing this to give back to the community. For our agency model, there is no agency fee, no sign-on fee, and no registration fee and there is no retainer fee. It is free. Agencies make their commission instantly from Kobobid with zero naira and they don’t need to know anyone to do this. They can sign up online and start.

With the emergence of Kobobid agents in different areas, Kobobid has created job opportunities for unemployed graduates, also students looking for an extra source of income or looking to make some money during the ASUU strike.

Despite the controversies around this industry, it keeps booming. Who are the players in this industry and how was the experience setting this up in Nigeria?

The business needs a lot of understanding. It is not for everyone and you still have to be smart to a certain extent to do this. For the scratch cards, anyone can play them. The lesson we have learned in entrepreneurship in Nigeria is if you are going to innovate, you start first with what you already know, and then you add to it. You don’t innovate first because if you do this, you will pay the expensive cost of educating everyone to come up to speed. The first thing you do is give them what they know, then you give them the additional features to which they are not exposed.

This way, the learning process becomes easier for people. So, we took that time to educate people and here we are today. At the end of the day, I would not know what I know today if we didn’t do this. In business, you can only figure out what works, what did not work, why it did not work and what it works for. There is no right or wrong, it is just that you could have done things in another way. This is because the products are still viable, you just keep educating people.

You said this is not for everyone. Why?

When I say it is not for everyone, I am specific about the penny auction because the penny auction requires you to be smart, have some thinking, skills, and logic. And we have to think about it in terms of intelligence. It is just like me trying to teach someone using a touch light phone how to use an iPhone. The I-phone is easy but it is easy because you are already used to something like that. But if all you are using is just a touch light phone, that is a completely different experience where may not even want to start because you think you may never get it. However, we created different games to capture everybody. If you come to Kobobid, there is something for you. If the Penny auction is too complex for you, there is a raffle draw, there is football fantasy for football lovers and there is a scratch card option. There is something for everyone.

You said this industry requires smartness. Is there a level of education to engage in the games?

It requires common sense. An illiterate can also play as long as they have common sense. It is just like playing Candy Crush but the strategy is just different. So as long as you understand strategy, you can play it.

From all indications, the gaming industry has grown exponentially and has defied the economic downturn and current realities. Any particular reason for this?

This is one of the key reasons I relocated to Nigeria. I said to myself that if I am going to quit my sweet job, I need to know that what I am jumping into is worth it. I needed to know if it was a business that is here to stay. When I was doing my research, I did my research first on the American economy and what I found was that most of the people that play in the betting and gaming market are Africans. I did more digging and research on it and find that it narrows down to religious factors. The more religious you are, the more you are into betting. While you belong to the one percent that says betting is against my religion, others are saying ‘This is where God has told me I’m going to make it.’ It is in poor countries that you get a lot of gamblers because these people believe in luck and this is where their luck would shine.

I have heard people say ‘I would pray on this ticket and it would win.’ This is the psyche of gamblers. When you look at Nigeria, you discover that Nigerians are extremely religious. At this point, the economic downturn keeps biting. Unemployment keeps getting worse. Inflation is up which means people can’t afford what to eat or buy. So, most people are looking for the next miracle. When you flip the situation and people become better and more employed, the next thing is they look at the amount of disposable income they have to play with. At that point, it becomes a habit. Remember when you start smoking, you don’t start overnight. So gaming is here to stay and it’s not going anywhere. And it is simply because of the social, religious and economic conditions in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

Are you registered with Lagos State licencing agencies?

Lagos State did not accept our licence because we belong to Auctioneers. They sent us a letter saying we don’t fall under Lottery because we fall under Mobile Other Games. So we are licence with the Auctioneers Commission of Nigeria and we are registered under the National Lottery Regulatory Commission. So, we are registered under these two national bodies.

Considering some of the challenges you have encountered, do you think the business would get better and where do you see the brand in the next five years?

In every business, we have to look at it in terms of growth and where we are. We are in a state where we need recognition and brand identity and that is what we are growing now. People need to understand who we are, recognise that name and let people see who we truly are. We are not scratching the surface at all. We want to transform what we have and in the next two years, I see us breaking into the market and being one of those household names.

When you talk about betting and the rest, you would remember Kobobid but you are going to remember us for something completely different because we won’t be competing with them but we would be in that space where we are providing you something more unique and something completely different. This is because of the way we are structured, you will realise it is easy to win on Kobobid without breaking the bank. We want to become like Indomie and Maggi which are brands that people refer to them as specific food items. This is what we want Kobobid to become. We want it to become that household name.

So in the next five years, we want to look at it in terms of a conglomerate. My Chief Operating Officer is in New York; my head of Logistics is in Ghana. And these are all people who are industry captains in terms of where they are and in terms of what they do, because of the complexity of the system. I started this in 2017 and I came back to Nigeria to hire a local team to build it and that didn’t work. In three years I couldn’t get a local team to build this for me. So, I had to go back to the United States. He is a Nigerian but works in the US with big tech companies. He is very good at what he does in terms of tech. He manages the entire tech. We have local tech teams in Nigeria that support the system daily but he is the brainchild behind the tech aspect. We are trying to expand by using what we have. So, in the next five years, I think we should be in all the African countries. What do I need to be in South Africa? I say South Africa because it’s on my list. They gave us DSTV and we would give them Kobobid. It takes us nothing to do that. If we want to operate in other countries today, we don’t need anything, we just need a licence. We are set up in a way that we are self-sufficient. We can expand anywhere at any time.

He was a member of the National Executive Council of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the highest decision-making organ of CAN.

Okonkwo holds several traditional titles, including Dikeora Idemili, Mbuba Anafolu Mbulu N’Ukpa, and Inwele Ogidi Inwele, among others. He is married with children. He writes and speaks Russian fluently.


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