The usage of cryptocurrency by the general public is still far from universal, but that’s not stopping teams from accepting payments at an increasing speed.
For the most part, teams have started accepting cryptocurrency as a way to offer their fans more options, without any expectations. The Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings, are just two of the many teams who have taken steps into the worlds of cryptocurrency and blockchain. As more teams adopt some form of cryptocurrency, the hope for those involved is awareness will continue to spread and adoption will increase.
Before the current NFL season, the Miami Dolphins announced they would accept cryptocurrency payments, done in partnership with Aliant Payments and the Litecoin Foundation.
The partnership allows for game attendees to purchase 50/50 raffle tickets – which sends half the proceeds to the Miami Dolphins Foundation – both online and at 14 kiosks and raffle stations throughout Hard Rock Stadium using cryptocurrency. Along with the deal, Litecoin became the Dolphins official cryptocurrency.
“The Miami Dolphins are always looking for ways to enhance the fan experience, and this partnership with Litecoin provides the ability for guests to enjoy our 50/50 raffle while donating to a great cause,” Dolphins Vice President and Chief Information Officer Kim Rometo said.
As of October, Aliant reported 46 crypto transactions at the then-most recent home game. Since the partnership allowed crypto payments in the 50/50 raffle, the proceeds jumped from an average of $72,000 per game to $86,000.
As the official cryptocurrency, Litecoin also receives access to in-game branding and advertising at Hard Rock Stadium and online properties and digital content.
Aliant is a traditional payment processor that has integrated cryptocurrency payments into its merchant programs. At October’s Litecoin Summit, Aliant CEO Eric Brown hinted at talks with several additional professional sports teams. Brown suggested several baseball, football and basketball teams were potentially in line to start accepting cryptocurrency, including the heavy-handed hint of “America’s Team.”
“We’re talking to a couple of other teams,” Brown said. “We figured if we got one team in place, others would follow. We do feel it will be successful in rolling that out.”
The Kings started their Bitcoin acceptance in 2014 and the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted a crypto giveaway last fall, but, in general, it appears U.S. sports teams have been a bit slower to adopt than sports organizations overseas.
In 2018, eToro signed an ad partnership with seven Premier League clubs, while CoinDeal had a jersey sleeve deal with Wolverhampton. The Dogecoin community helped send the Jamaican bobsled team to the 2014 Winter Olympics and also sponsored a NASCAR team.
As cryptocurrency continues to infiltrate the sports industry, educating fans as part of the partnership continues to be a major objective, particularly by the cryptocurrency companies in the deals. While Bitcoin is fairly ubiquitous and made its way into mainstream recognition, others such as Litecoin remain under the radar.
Litecoin is the sixth-largest cryptocurrency, with a price per coin of nearly $46 as of December 4. For reference, Bitcoin is nearly $7,500, as of December 4. The Dolphins noted that when the deal was announced Litecoin was gaining market share because it’s a cheaper, more readily available cryptocurrency.
While doing a partnership with a team isn’t driving major revenue for the cryptocurrency companies, it’s become a crucial pathway to get these payment methods in front of a wider audience that may have never otherwise heard of them. For example, the Litecoin Foundation partnered with UFC to help raise awareness through the display of the Litecoin logo on the canvas during the December 2018 fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson.
“This collaboration propels Litecoin in front of an audience of millions of people around the world at a time where adoption of cryptocurrencies continues to gain momentum and the ecosystem is able to support real-world use cases in ways previously not possible,” Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, who is also the managing director of Litecoin Foundation, said.
“We see this as a powerful way to raise awareness and educate people about Litecoin and cryptocurrencies on a tremendous scale,” he said.