The valuable business of cryptocurrencies has burst into the world of sports with force, with a growing number of deals with the planet’s top competitions and sports to achieve global supremacy of digital currencies.
When you visit the website of Crypto.com, the company that operates one of the world’s leading applications for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, you can read that the platform has cooperation agreements with a select group of partners.
Of the nine partners with which Crypto.com has reached cooperation agreements, seven are from the sports arena: Formula 1, Italy’s Serie A soccer team, the mixed martial arts company UFC, the Montreal Canadiens professional ice hockey team, the French soccer team Paris Saint Germain (PSG), the car manufacturer Aston Martin and the NBA team Philadelphia 76ers.
Crypto.com also signed an agreement with the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) on November 25 for the digital platform to be the official partner of the Libertadores competition from 2023 to 2026.
One billion users
Crypto.com, a company founded five years ago, which has 2,600 employees and 10 million users, wants to “accelerate the global transition to cryptocurrencies”. And to do so, it considers sports to be the best way to reach its “next 1 billion users.”
Crypto.com’s bet on the world of sports is not an extravagant act by “the nouveau riche in the neighborhood.” A recent survey conducted by the firm Morning Consult indicates that 47% of sports fans have some knowledge of the world of cryptocurrencies and in fact, 27% own one of these new currencies.
The numbers of those who declare some knowledge of the world of cryptocurrencies are even higher among those who recognize themselves as “avid” sports fans, 66%, and those who place sports bets, 72%.
A perfect match: sports activities attract billions of people around the world, making them excellent platforms for increasing the popularity of cryptocurrencies. And sports fans already have a predisposition to adopt digital currencies.
In addition, there is another element that attracts companies like Crypto.com to link up with entities like Paris Saint-Germain: NFTs, an acronym that stands for the term “non-fungible token.”
NFTs guarantee that the object to which they are attached is a unique digital piece or with a limited and known number of copies. And because it is limited, it is scarce, which can make it extremely valuable.
An NFT can be one of those classic sports cards. But, instead of being an image on a piece of paper, it is a digital photograph. It could also be a video that captures a historic Lionel Messi goal. Those digital stickers can be stored and transferred. And their value can increase over time.
When the deal-making Crypto.com the official cryptocurrency partner of Messi and Neymar’s Paris Saint Germain was announced last September 9, the digital company’s co-founder and current CEO, Kris Marszalek, made no secret of the possibilities the partnership opens up.
“Between the brand visibility, stadium and team access, and collaborative development of NFTs, I have no doubt we’ll create new and exciting experiences for football fans around the world.,” Marszalek said.
The figures of Crypto.com’s deal with PSG have not been disclosed. But what is known is what Crypto.com has paid to rename the Staples Center, the iconic Los Angeles sports center where the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, both of the NBA, and Los Angeles Kings, of the NHL ice hockey league, play.
According to leaks to the media, the company has shelled out $700 million for the arena to be called Crypto.com Arena starting Dec. 25 for 20 years.
And what may seem like a substantial amount, it’s not going to cost Crypto.com anything. The company launched its own cryptocurrency, Crypto or CRO, in 2018. A week after the deal to rename the Staples Center was announced, CRO’s value jumped more than 55% and went from having a market cap of $9 billion to $18 billion.
The intersection of the world of cryptocurrencies and the world of sports doesn’t end there. Recently a group of about 2,000 people, all cryptocurrency enthusiasts, started a campaign to buy an NBA team through the sale of NFT.
Although in the end the group “only” raised $4 million, far short of the more than $1 billion it would take to acquire a modest NBA franchise, the attempt is a warning of what’s to come in the future.
Another door that has just opened is that of paying the salaries of elite athletes with cryptocurrencies. Russell Okung, player of the Carolina Panthers, one of the teams of the professional soccer league in the United States (NFL) has just become the first player to receive half of his annual salary, 13 million dollars, in bitcoin.