GeoComply makes first M&A move with OneComply

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GeoComply’s acquisition of OneComply takes its product range in a new direction. The supplier is predominantly known for its geolocation solutions, but at its core it’s a company that prevents fraud and provides cybersecurity solutions to verify users’ digital identity. It’s tech that helps licences.

OneComply, on the other hand, helps companies secure licences in the first place. It’s not really adding another layer of service to GeoComply’s offering, chairman David Briggs explains, but a case of adding an outstanding product that solves a major industry pain point.

“As customers we love the product. Having gone through personal licensing with and without using OneComply, the difference is enormous,” Briggs says.

The level of scrutiny that goes into personal licensing is severe, to put it kindly. Applicants will have to dig out their high school transcripts, never mind college, as well as hand over old addresses and likely face some scrutiny into family members.

And then there’s the fingerprinting. Each state has its own fingerprinting requirements, and don’t pass them from state to state. Inky fingers are an unintended consequence of gaming expansion.

“For the amount of brain damage you go through with personal licensing, it’s not something that adds a layer of safety; the actual blocking and tackling is just a pain,” he adds.

That’s what makes OneComply so compelling, he continues. “Obviously not completely – the licensing process will always be a challenge – but it frees up time for operators, and particularly startups, and makes the challenge less overwhelming.”

So what does OneComply actually do?

OneComply is essentially a platform that allows operators, suppliers or affiliates manage all licensing applications from a single location. It stores data – no more fingerprinting or searching for college transcripts – lets users track or assign tasks required for licensing and even automate elements of the process.

To Briggs it’s like moving from email to Gmail. “We introduced it to all our friends and partners, and they all bought it,” he says.

It fits into GeoComply’s strategy of “solving a problem no one else could solve”. That’s what informs its M&A strategy.

Since OneComply is its first acquisition, it’s not hard to infer that nothing has matched this criteria to date. “If we can identify a good use of technology and a better process that eases the burden for everyone, that’s a great thing,” he says.

“We haven’t bought anything before this, as we haven’t seen something that can really solve customers pain points,” he adds. “It doesn’t take anything away from the lawyers and consultants – ultimately it’s still their job to help clients navigate the process – but they don’t want to be searching for high school records. We only see upside for everyone.”

Bringing more people into the gaming market

The GeoComply player location check dominates the US market, and considering it has just about every partner available, OneComply won’t really expand GeoComply’s existing addressable market. Where it might help is bringing new blood into the industry.

As director of corporate development Marco Stotani points out, the betting and igaming sector is becoming more attractive as it spreads across the US.

“There’s a lot of people who are interested, but market access is not easy,” he explains. “You have to do the licensing, geolocation, find vendors, and that’s why IDComply started.

“We see this as another opportunity to open market access and to bring innovation into the market. If you’re coming from a fintech and want to move into gaming, this can facilitate your entry to the market.”

Briggs adds that it has applications beyond gambling, hinting that the platform may soon be available for other jurisdictions. But even in the US, it has further to go.

“There are other verticals, in the US at least, where you have to get fingerprinted,” Briggs points out. “In the payments industry, on a state-by-state level you need a Money Service Business licence.

“Once OneComply is fully scaled and making the most of solving licensing for gaming – it’s just 14 people currently – we can expand into payments and beyond.”

That will take time, however, as OneComply will continue to run as a separate business. Products will be bundled into GeoComply deals where necessary, but it will remain in control of its own destiny.

It’s similar to GeoGuard, another GeoComply subsidiary that’s responsible for limiting access to content in other markets (if you’ve ever raged against not being able to access Match of the Day abroad, it’s GeoComply you have to blame).

More M&A to come from GeoComply?

And while OneComply solved a very significant pain point, prompting GeoComply to make its first M&A move, this focus on ticking off challenges continues.

“It’s a 2+2=5 scenario,” Briggs says. “For OneComply to grow they need to invest in infrastructure, customer service, marketing, HR, legal and finance. We have that so it helps them grow way faster, and there’s a big overlap between their target customer and our existing customers.”

“We haven’t bought anything before as we haven’t seen anything as accretive as this product,” Briggs adds. “Others will follow, as the scope for consolidation is enormous.

“There will be more, we are actively looking for more, but when it makes sense we will do it.”

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