By Luke Fitzpatrick
The cryptocurrency industry has spread around the world in only a few short years. Not too long ago, crypto industry leaders’ desires for crypto were grand, but even they would not have expected to see such progress so quickly.
These days, bitcoin and its altcoins have managed to infiltrate almost every industry. They are far from dominating them all, of course, but there are people in all industries who are now considering the use of crypto and its underlying blockchain technology, even banks, and entire nations.
China and its CBDC, the so-called digital yuan, are a prime example of this. But, this would not have been the case if a few, more flexible industries did not make the first step.
The sports industry is one of the best examples.
The sports industry and digital currency
The sports industry and crypto industry are maintaining an intimate relationship these days, but this was not always the case.
As mentioned, this was one of the more flexible industries that were not too scared to try out something new. Of course, it did not exactly throw itself into crypto, but it did open its doors to an alternative payment method.
It all began with gambling companies, and offshore sports betting websites. They started accepting crypto as a payment method. Soon enough, some of the sports club owners started paying their members in crypto, as well.
The first known example of this is a professional hockey player, Nikolaj Rosenthal, who currently also acts as the CEO of Evonax, which is one of the few remaining KYC-free exchange platforms. Back when it happened, Rosenthal stated: “It’s really exciting to be allowed to pioneer with this. Digital currencies could provide a lot of possibilities, and I appreciate the opportunity to experience them in such a unique way.”
After a while, when the initial coin offering (ICO) trend kicked off and everyone seemed to have launched their own coin, the idea also spread throughout the sports industry.
Fan tokens emerge
The ICO movement may have crashed in the meantime, but the idea of different clubs offering their fans different tokens remained. These days, some of the world’s largest sports clubs, such as Juventus and FC Barcelona, have their own tokens, meant to be distributed and used by their fans.
The fans can use the tokens for buying merchandise, voting on some upcoming club-related decisions, winning rewards such as VIP seats, and more.
Adrian Pollard from exchange provider bitHolla chimes in, “We’ve seen this attempt start all the way back to Fanship and I believe it is a great way to connect fans with stars in a much more interesting way that we’ve never thought of before. By mixing a token of value and effectively the worth of the star and having it trade on a marketplace we could be seeing a more direct way for fans to speculate on the worth of a star.”
However, all of that is only a bonus on what these clubs really wish to achieve, which is building a stronger community while connecting directly with their fans from anywhere in the world.
The fans would be able to interact with their favorite clubs, use their cryptocurrency, and participate in group decisions.
So, not only is crypto now used for gambling and betting, but it also serves for creating tighter, more directly served communities, and it comes as payment for sports players willing to accept them.
These are major advancements for an asset class that nobody took seriously only a few short years ago. And, while the sports industry is among the early adopters, similar acceptance of crypto is beginning to emerge in many other industries, as well.
eSports is also rather tight with the cryptocurrency, which leads directly into the gaming industry — another industry that was among the first to open its doors to crypto, and one of its biggest adopters thus far.
“I don’t think it will be long before we start seeing more stars self-tokenizing themselves. We are seeing early examples of this today even with ordinary people experimenting with it. But when it comes to actual sports stars or better yet potential sports stars it’s a good way for them to get the funding support they really need by tokenizing their future potential. I think the next natural step we will see is some stars having not only their own coin but their own marketplace to trade their token directly on their website,” says Pollard.
About the author
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program.