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Crypto meets Cricket

Rahul Saha Rahul Saha
With the emergence of cryptocurrency and the introduction of Non-fungible Tokens (NFT), yesterday’s impossible is today’s reality. For the first time, digital media is going from a distribution-consumption-based economy to a sale-purchase economy.

 

Back in the day, when sports started catching the attention of the masses, people like Babe Ruth and Don Bradman were the first ones to sign autographs for their fans, and then someone realised the potential that lay there, and they could sell those autographs for top dollar to others. They realised that there was a lot of value in “intangibles”, not only as collectors’ items but as investments as well.

Ever since then, collectors and investors have made collections out of varied sets of memorabilia that have appreciated in value over the decades.

As the 90s wore on, digital media became the medium of choice, but nobody could own those moments on that media like a physical object. How do you collect an iconic tweet? A digital ticket? A rare digital magazine? But now, with the emergence of cryptocurrency and the introduction of Non-fungible Tokens (NFT), yesterday’s impossible is today’s reality.

An NFT is a unique digital asset and is a collectible that cannot be replicated or copied, making it rare by design. As a result of this, for the first time, these digital memorabilia can be sold, bought and collected. For the first time, digital media is going from a distribution-consumption-based economy to a sale-purchase one. You can now not only view media but also own media collectibles, the key thing being ownership.

Now, how does cricket come into this, you might ask?

So, here’s the thing – Zebi, India’s first blockchain company, which has been building a blockchain for India since 2016, worked with Smart Cricket Global Ltd way back in 2018 to launch what was India’s first-ever NFT. At that point, it was way ahead of time, but now in this article, we look at how crypto has forged its way into cricket’s global market.

 

Also Read – 10 Biggest Crypto Deals in Sports

Zebi and Smart Cricket Global Ltd.

Zebi has been building a blockchain for India since 2016. Although way ahead of the curve, in 2018, Zebi worked with Smart Cricket Global Ltd to launch India’s first NFT. Moreover, their famous land record project won the Digital India Gold Award in 2019, and the pair are now working in the cricket ecosystemAll Posts to launch their new venture, with the time seeming to be ripe.

“The opportunity is not just collectables. It’s just that collectibles have become a buzz and mainstream today,” said Pruthvi Rao, founder of Zebi.

“Blockchain is doing to the world today what the internet was supposed to do 25 years ago. Eventually, everything that exists in the internet today will move to blockchain-based ecosystems, in one form or the other.”

“We have been aggressive on being on the upside of the technology curve when it comes to cricket by being the first in the world to use motion-sensing for making smart bats and other cricket equipment smart. Similarly, the way this space has exploded, now is the right time to be a part of this evolution that is just starting,” said Atul, Founder of Smart Cricket.

“You can literally think of anything that is digital – gaming, merchandising, licensing, e-sports etc. will all be within the blockchain ecosystem. This is what makes it a multi-billion-dollar evolution,” he added.

 

Crypto.com and DeFi the Game

NFT marketplace Crypto.com recently announced that it was collaborating with fandom startup DeFi the Game on a series of collections celebrating global celebrities from the world of cricket.

“The exclusive partnership marks our entrance into the cricket market – another step forward on our expansion into global sports,” said Crypto.com NFT in a blog post.

NFT drop is the specific date when a particular NFT becomes available for an investor to buy. NFT drops of the inaugural run include the ones created in association with cricketing legend Sir Vivian Richards, South African record-breaker Herschelle Gibbs, international icons Mohammad Amir and Shoaib Malik along with newcomer Dan Lawrence. It began on September 30 this year with a drop commemorating the life and career of English cricket star Ravi Bopara.

Kasey Cummings, the co-founder of DeFi the Game, said they were building a community of cricket fans who were ready for the future.

 

ICC and FTX

Cryptocurrency platform FTX Trading Limited announced a new global partnership with the International Cricket Council (ICC) earlier this month. Through the new agreement, FTX will sponsor all of the global cricket governing body’s events up to the 2023 Men’s Cricket World Cup in India. The contract includes the ICC Cricket World Cups and Twenty20 World Cups for both the men’s and the women’s teams, including the Men’s U19 Cricket World Cup as well as the Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers.

The partnership kicked off with the ongoing Men’s T20 World Cup, which started back on October 17. Moreover, FTX has been an active presence in the sports sponsorship space this past year, having signed massive deals with the likes of the Mercedes Formula One team and Major League Baseball (MLB), while also acquiring the naming rights to the NBA’s Miami Heat’s home arena.

“Cricket is a long-established sport with a deep history and team ties that go back generations. Cryptocurrency is still in its infancy and at FTX we are looking to forge a new path in mostly unchartered territory,” said Sam Bankman-Fried, chief executive and founder of FTX.

Meanwhile, Anurag Dahiya, the ICC’s chief commercial officer, added: “FTX has successfully established itself in a very dynamic sector as one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges. Their innovative and ambitious approach matches well with the energy of our sport.”

 

Also Read – WHAT ARE FAN TOKENS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

 

IPL teams and Socios.com

Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises Punjab Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders have signed up with sports engagement platform, Socios.com, which is backed by blockchain fintech provider Chiliz.

On Socios.com, teams can host a fan token offering (FTO), which allows fans to get tokens that can be further used for other exclusive activities. Each team gets its own token, which is a finite, digital asset that provides access to an encrypted ledger that governs ownership of voting and membership rights.

Moreover, according to Duff & Phelps, the 2021 edition of IPL is the most valuable sporting event in India worth INR 45,800 crore. Thus, when the competition got suspended because of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, franchises and teams were looking for other ways to boost revenue.

Venky Mysore, CEO & MD of the Kolkata Knight Riders, said, “We were keen to look at new ways of enhancing and optimizing how we engage with our fans, and Socios seemed like the right fit. Socios has already proven what a powerful tool it can be for fan engagement with some of the biggest sporting organisations in the world.”

 

Cricketcrazy.io

A first of its kind, Cricket Foundation, which is co-founded by former Indian cricketer Parthiv Patel and Zebi’s founder Pruthvi Rao, provides fans with a platform to have exclusive ownership of digital cricket memorabilia and collectibles through “cricketcrazy.io”, the world’s first cricket-exclusive NFT marketplace.

The platform, apart from allowing cricket enthusiasts to exclusively own these digital assets, also allows the cricketers associated with it to monetise their digital assets, thus helping them supplement their income post-retirement from the game.

“Cricketers have a short shelf life and by the time one matures it is almost time to retire from the game. Therefore, one should have a viable career option or a business to fall back upon after retirement. We can monetise our memorabilia through this platform, however, it is not just about earning money but also about sharing our memorable moments with fans and giving them happiness,” said Parthiv Patel, speaking on a Zoom call on the eve of the announcement.

 

Also Read – Crypto Deals in Formula One

Polygon-based IPL Fan Tokens

Along with two new IPL teams, cricket fans around the globe are likely to be rewarded with official fan tokens as well. Rumours and speculations of fan tokens are doing the rounds all over the internet after reports emerged that a couple of senior officials within the BCCI leaked information regarding the introduction of “IPL fan tokens, that are likely to be powered by Polygon”, with an official announcement likely to be made by December, with Sandeep Nailwal, COO and one of the four co-founders of Polygon, also hinting at such a development. “Polygon will have some interesting announcements going public soon with respect to Indian sports,” he said.

Polygon (erstwhile known as MATIC) is an Indian blockchain scalability platform aimed to create a multi-chain ecosystem of Ethereum-compatible blockchains. It has lower fees, better user experience and lower cost per transaction percent (TPS).

However, this is not a new trend in the Indian cricket ecosystem. Earlier this year, three IPL franchises — Punjab Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders — joined hands with Socios.com to launch a token platform in order to engage fans.

As crypto firms flock to the Indian shore, the possibilities for fan engagement are endless and are immortalised on the blockchain concerned. These tokens may give fans a chance to vote or take decisions on matters related to their teams and help resolve governance issues. Owning such a token might also yield exclusive benefits to users — such as discounts on merchandise, invitation to special events, free tickets for games and more

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Rahul Saha

Rahul Saha

An engineer taking the road less taken. I love writing, live and breathe football, and am always up for a tactical conversation.

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