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Feb 14, 2020, 6:06:00 AM

Germany’s Bundesliga Now Accepts Cryptocurrency

With the rise of cryptocurrency and its introduction to various other forms of entertainment, it was only a matter of time before it would be introduced into football.

One way or another, cryptocurrency was going to find its niche in football. It was just a matter of time. As proof of this, the London Football Exchange (LFE) launched a cryptocurrency to power an ecosystem of ‘inter-related components’ composed of sports, media, entertainment, finance, and foundation. The idea is similar to a machine with cogs and gears that need to work together so that the whole functions as properly as the individual parts.

This, then, allowed a ‘fan-driven’ community to thrive, giving them the opportunity to take part in different club activities such as match day tickets, tours, and a meet-and-greet with other players. Other activities also include a team merchandise giveaway to VIP treatment for a day. The goal of partnerships like these is to create a thriving community where fans can experience being ‘in control’, helping choose what the club does and how it does it. It’s a common sight these days especially since a Blockchain idea pops up every now and then. This isn’t the problem since the applications are virtually limitless. The question lies in whether the technology has what it takes to attract customers and monetize the services that stem from it.

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The move the LFE took came in days after an online sports betting site announced that they partnered with the English Premier League football club Arsenal FC. This took place before the site released their initial coin offering (ICO) of its own cryptocurrency designed specifically for iGaming. As mentioned by the site, one of their long-term goals is targeting a global, multi-billion dollar marketplace of iGaming content providers, operators, and players. According to their CEO, ‘the token will improve the online experience for real money, casino, social, skill-based, eSports and sports betting players through increased trust and transparency, faster payouts, reduced fees and dedicated player protection’.

In a similar move, the top division of football in Germany, the Bundesliga, also welcomed cryptocurrency into the league. During the 2018/19 season, Hamburg SV partnered with Fintech Powerhouse NAGA. For those unfamiliar, NAGA ‘is a publicly-traded fintech company founded in Hamburg, Germany in October 2015; NAGA Group produces companies that embrace technological changes in financial markets’. Their venture into the Bundesliga will help them expand their services which include advertising. Benjamin Bilski, NAGA’s executive director, had this to say:

‘Our values and entrepreneurial attitudes are a perfect match, especially as HSV is open to new technologies, which is exactly what NAGA stands for. Because we are very familiar with statistics and technology, sophisticated and constantly new applications play a big role in our success’.

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As reported recently, cryptocurrency and sports are becoming increasingly involved and entwined with one another. CoinDeal promoting their brand on the Premier League club’s Wolverhampton Wolves’ shirt sleeve. NBA team Sacramento Kings launching its MiningForGood program, which sees Ethereum cryptocurrency mining equipment installed in their stadium. Johannes Haupt, senior director, Team Hamburg SV at Lagardère Sports, said, ‘We have developed a comprehensive package of services tailored to the company’s objectives, with a special focus on digital communication, enabling exciting projects along the path of our long-term cooperation’.

The partnership between football and cryptocurrency has also been reaching other European nations. Portuguese Primeira Liga club Benfica partnered with international payment gateway UTRUST to accept online payments with cryptocurrency. This now allows supporters of the club to purchase tickets and other Benfica official merchandise using cryptocurrencies. Domingos Soares de Oliveira, Benfica chief executive, said, ‘Our ‘benfiquistas’ make Benfica the unique and special club it is, and we recognise that many of our supporters are now digital users first so we want to be ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting novel technologies and giving our supporters the best online experience’.

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Adding to this, ‘We are very excited about the possibilities that this partnership with UTRUST presents in the evolution of our e-commerce strategy and we look forward to accepting our first cryptocurrency payment’. The crypto-company ‘has pledged to completely modernise the finance and payments industry by providing instant crypto-to-fiat conversions. Fiat money is currency without intrinsic value that has been established as money, often by government regulation, aid this partnership achieves that aim by granting Benfica access to a wider customer base and offering a significantly enhanced online experience through the implementation of novel technologies, and its core technology will allow Benfica to take advantage of the increased security and convenience of cryptocurrency payments while protecting the club from market volatility. It will also significantly reduce processing fees and eliminate credit-card chargebacks and fraudulent payments. Benfica will also be able to settle payments directly to its bank in fiat on the very same day they are received’.

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With the platform, supporters of the club can pay using the UTRUST token (UTK) or other popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The club’s official online store has been accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment, allowing supporters to purchase tickets, clothing, and all other club merchandise on the club’s website or the application. Nuno Correia, UTRUST’s co-founder and chief executive, said, ‘This partnership with Portugal’s No.1 football club marks a major milestone for UTRUST and the blockchain ecosystem as a whole. Benfica is one of the biggest sporting clubs worldwide and we are delighted to be making cryptocurrency payments possible for their 14 million supporters around the world’.

UEFA, Europe’s governing body on football, was the first major rights-holder to attempt the use of blockchain in ticketing on a significant scale during the distribution of all 10,000 general admission tickets for the August 2018 Super Cup match as well as a few Europa League finals tickets.

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Words: Carlos Corpus

Image: PA