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More than a gaming company

Expanding IT development and online marketing, leveraging existing apps and launching new ones is the way forward, says the VP of IT for Suncity Group. Improving operational efficiency and guest management is key to gaining an advantage over both junkets and the six casino operators, and the group’s CEO, Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, is a “very IT-oriented guy”.

As several companies operating in the gaming market are gradually investing more in Information Technology (IT) and digital marketing, Suncity Group is working to improve existing apps and launching new ones, as well as implementing an internal operations system to be launched worldwide in the coming two months, the Vice President of Suncity’s IT Department, Celestino Ali, told Business Daily.
“We will run everything on-system. We believe that the system can help us gain a lot of efficiency in different areas, as well as to centralize different information,” explained Ali.
The Customer Relations Management (CRM) database will allow Suncity departments, clubs, and Suncity-run companies to view a variety of data on specific guests with a specifically implemented in-security web, all in real-time.
The company is aiming to improve the interaction between customers and employees in order to enhance “operational efficiency” and “guest management,” according to the man overseeing the developments.
According to Ali, once the system is implemented, it will give Suncity an advantage over its competitors, “not just over [other] junkets, but over the six major casinos as well. I know they have CRMs, but not such detailed ones.”
As Suncity progressively becomes an “IT-oriented company,” its CEO and Chairman, Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, is closely following the developments.
“Mr. Chau, our CEO, is a very IT-oriented guy. He has a lot of his things put into these apps and many of the features come from him. He is following it very closely, not just the app, but a lot of our system,” Ali told Business Daily.
He was specifically referring to the revamping of Sun Finance, an app created some eight months ago to enable Suncity account holders to keep track of their account history.
The current product is a new version of the previous “Suncity app,” with more details, a new name, and a completely re-designed user interface, developed with feedback from customers and closely overseen by Suncity’s CEO.
Some of the new features include a detailed breakdown of individual value and a near real-time highlight section in the account login session “where you can see immediately the win-loss across all our properties, both local and overseas,” said Ali.
“I would definitely say it is probably a one-of-a-kind now, especially in Macau. Our competitors have the same kind of product, but not in such detail as well as integrated with other kinds of functions,” claimed Ali.
The app is available in English, traditional and simplified Chinese, Korean, and “coming is Japanese and Thai,” Ali points out.

Distant-access and IT work
Suncity is betting high on enhancing distant-access to its different “value-added services,” and as Ali puts it: “we are not just a gaming company. We do a lot of entertainment, travel, as well as high-end shopping.”
Through app development, the junket operator is delivering services online – such as history account management – which previously required customers to go in situ.
With Sun Finance, customers can request reports on accounts, “generated dynamically, in real-time through the app, and pull it and see it at home. You don’t have to go to our clubs anymore,” said Ali.
Investment in IT is pushing the department Ali help found in 2012 to develop new features and services, eyeing expansion.
“I started to set it up and we were supporting only 16 local sites then, all in Macau. Now the team has over 35 active team members, globally, and we are supporting 27 sites and casino projects in Vietnam as well.”
In addition to the team working in Macau, Suncity has IT teams in Hong Kong and mainland China.
“We do have a lot of apps in development. That’s why we are a big team, globally,” explained the VP.
In particular, he pointed out that similar to the team in Macau, the team in mainland China is also working on the development of the Sun Travel platform.

Customized experience
Sun Travel is a platform which will be available to the general public, not only for Suncity account holders, in the form of both a website and an app, according to information provided by Ali.
The company is planning to launch it by the end of this year, but has not yet confirmed the date.
“We hope to launch it this year, but as we go for a live testing user phase, there are sections we think we can do better, so we are working on those,” Ali told Business Daily.
As for the ways the different apps and platforms will be integrated, the IT Department’s VP explained that Suncity’s current account holders will be able to access the Sun Travel platform features “through an integrated, but separately downloadable app, cost and trip.”
Sun Travel will offer concierge services ranging from the booking of show tickets and hotels to flights, as well as tailor-made products, with clients being able “to request any sort of value-added service,” from private jets and travel guides to photographers to accompany them on the trips.
Ali added that the difference between Sun Finance and Sun Travel, which does not support an e-payment feature, is that Sun Travel will “support credit card and WeChat payments.”

Security matters
To enhance security and personal data protection, Suncity has adopted technology currently being used in banking security systems, by implementing a two-factor authentication process for account verification, which involves a password and an SMS sent to the customer.
Regarding whether clients have refrained from signing up for the app due to matters of data sensitivity, Ali claims that following the launch of “many different financial apps, the customer, the general public, is getting used to it.”
“Because a lot of things have been proven to work, and a lot of things have been rectified to improve the security. And we have made sure that we have implemented those in our apps,” explained the VP on their confidence in the system.
Although Ali could not disclose more details about the storage of customers’ personal data due to “security reasons,” he confirmed that all data is stored in a “private cloud” in Macau.