Today we’re beyond excited to announce the open beta of our newest product, Clinch, an API for non-custodial, depositless, peer-2-peer wagering. Clinch is the future of limitless wagering.
We’re ready to take on the $95B online gambling market. The question is: are you?
Where we’ve been
We’re incredibly proud of everything we’ve built at THNDR over the past two years. Our mission has been to onboard the world to bitcoin through games, and we’ve done exactly that. Nearly 80% of our users are new to bitcoin. They’re very first, first-hand exposure to the asset is through THNDR games. With millions of downloads, six games in the App Store and Google Play, and several games ranking in the charts (Club Bitcoin: Solitaire reaching #21 in the App Store), we can attest that bitcoin micro incentive rewards work. So much so that THNDR accounted for 3% of the Lightning Network’s recent growth.
At THNDR we always ask ourselves, “What’s next?”. We are constantly looking for ways to further our mission or bring better products to our users. Over the past year we’ve listened intently to our users to find out what’s missing, and they’ve loudly responded with a desire for more social and competitive play. Over the past 8 months we’ve delivered Leagues (competitive, ranked play), Avatars (social elements), and most recently, Duels (pvp competitive play). However, our users challenge us to build even further outside the box.
What is it they’re looking for? Essentially, paid competitive gaming (PGC), or “skill-based mobile games that offer monetary rewards, and players earn those rewards by participating in PvP contests”. PGCs are the style of games made available by companies like Skillz, Game Taco, Gamee and more, and are estimated to grow to a $16B market by 2024. But after further investigation, this desire for PGCs branches out to skills-based wagering, and more broadly, online gambling.
But there’s one glaring issue (outside of the technical difficulty) – the current state of these games and game style are absolutely fucking abyssmal. Take for example Stake.com, one of the largest online casinos offering crypto wagering (of which Drake is famously a spokesperson). Just last month they lost $41M of customer funds due to a vulnerability in their hot wallet.
Outside of blatant security risks these services are burdened with friction associated with traditional fiat rails, such as:
- Buy-in and cash-out thresholds are incredibly high, making it untenable for users in developing regions and emerging markets to participate in this style of gameplay.
- Onboarding, specifically AML/KYC, requirements are intrusive and time consuming. Fees are exorbitant.
- Users often encounter incredibly delayed withdrawals taking up to 6-8 weeks to receive funds.
- Minimum and maximum size wagers, oftentimes requiring users to wager at least $1-5 in every match.
On the other side of the coin, while game developers and studios could better monetize their games with this style of gameplay, the current payment infrastructure makes it not worth the cost and burden of regulatory compliance.
Sounds like a gap in the market, no? We’re up for the challenge.
Where we’re going
So today we’re releasing the open beta of Clinch. Our solution to this industry-wide problem and a product that meets our community’s needs. Clinch is a totally non-custodial, peer-to-peer wagering API. What does this mean? It means that it’s now possible to send wager with friends instantaneously with no need to deposit cash on a custodial website or wallet. It means everyone can play – bitcoin is borderless and wagers for as low as 1 satoshi are possible.
Clinch not only meets the needs of users, it is a gamechanger for game developers and studios as well. They can now offer this style of highly monetizable gameplay to a global set of users rather than only within their fiat jurisdictions. Also, they never need to touch customer funds, saving the headache and costs associated with MTLs or working with a third-party provider.
Clinch is going to decimate an industry that hasn’t experienced innovation in the past 50 years outside of mobile phones and connectivity.
So how does it work?
I won’t get into the technical details too much, otherwise this post will drag on forever (also, Jack and I are collaborating on a more succinct deep dive post). However, at a high-level, it all centers on double escrow payments, or what we refer to as ‘Clinch Contracts’.
To establish a wager between two players, we set up two payments that pass through our node, representing the two potential outcomes of the bet. While both participants make payments to their counterpart, the transaction isn't finalized until the match concludes.
Given that we understand the context of the payment, we have the capability to withhold a payment until certain conditions are met or even to revoke the payment if necessary. When the winner is established, the Clinch platform will cancel the winner's payment because it is not needed, and settle the payment from the loser to the winner. We (or our partners) create a delta between both payments to take a fee on the settlement of the transaction.
Your lucky day!
To demonstrate the power of Clinch, we’ve integrated it into our cult-classic, Club Bitcoin: Solitaire. It’s available to play now on desktop. You just need the password. And since you’ve made it this far, here it is: CL!nCh3d. Just visit clinch.gg.
The future is SOON™️
It is still very early days for Clinch and there’s so much more to come. We’ll do a roadmap follow-up post, but expect – more Clinch games, Clinch on mobile, and Clinch inside of every game and product you could ever think of 😜.