Blockchain & Crypto in Sports

The space is slowly getting traction

There’s no doubt that in the recent months and years blockchain and cryptocurrencies were one of the hottest and most discussed topics on our planet. While we are still waiting for the ultimate breakthrough and mass market penetration, we get exposed to a variety of startups and potential use cases for almost every industry. And once again the sports industry seems to be a late adopter, with no significant news or success stories. But that changed quite recently.

On June 8 Kodak and WENN Digital Inc. announced to bring KODAKOne, their blockchain-based image rights management platform, to six OVG Arena Alliance venues, including four NBA teams and two NHL teams. According to Jan Denecke, CEO of WENN Digital, they “want to introduce the KODAKOne Platform to a creative audience that we believe will both benefit from its functionality and serve as early adopters. The KODAKOne Platform is being designed specifically to enable users to upload, register and share their work, as well as be compensated for it in certain instances. Given the millions of fantastic live event photographs generated each year at OVG’s Arena Alliance venues, this was a natural place for us to start.”

Two days before Havas Sports & Entertainment and Havas Blockchain announced to have launched a cryptocurrency-based loyalty programme that rewards sports fans for “fan actions”. Yann Baffalio, head of Fan Relationship Management, said “We believe our approach of blockchain adds value to the entire sports ecosystem. Fans finally get rewarded for their engagement, and brands access to a new passion-led asset.”

Based on those news, we decided to come up with this article as a first glimpse into the startup activities in sports, blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

More and more startups popping up

These are the sports startups in blockchain and cryptocurrencies that crossed our path so far, which we clustered with regards to our SportsTech framework.

Activity & Performance

DYNO: Re-Defining the sports industry by building the first blockchain based marketplace for user driven sports and metabolic data. DYNO started with their own analytical devices and will open the DYNO ecosystem to all third-party tracking and fitness devices.

Lympo: Lympo aspires to revolutionise the healthy lifestyle ecosystem through monetisation of user-generated data via blockchain to reward users by offering incentives and supplementing health insurance to inspire a healthy society.

Playtness: Playtness is tokenizing the world of fitness by creating an ecosystem for its members, powered by smart contracts. Using the Playtness platform and its built-in reward mechanisms, the fitness industry is able to interact and transact in a way that creates incentives for its users through the use of PT tokens.

Ufity: Ufity motivates to exercise more. Run, work out, walk, move and convert effort into Fitys, the internal (soon crypto) currency to purchase various offers.

Another interesting approach worth mentioning, even though there’s neither crypto nor blockchain involved, comes from Sweatcoin. They are converting physical activity in form of steps into their own currency (Sweatcoins), which can then be used for various rewards.

Management & Organisation

Globatalent: Globatalent is the blockchain decentralization platform which allows clubs and players to attain funding by selling future revenue rights to fans worldwide. The investment process is automated with the help of Smart Contracts that use Blockchain Technology. This ensures token trading in a fast, secure way.

Inoovi: platform powered by the famous Blockchain that prides itself as a way to support all next Football Players Champions transfers and supporters experiences.

LFE: First fully integrated football club stock exchange and fan marketplace harnessing the power of the blockchain. The LFE’s technology will create a tokenised marketplace which will remove friction costs and increase transparency in transactions in the fan marketplace such as ticketing, merchandise, hospitality, broadcast and football retail services.

Peerspoint: Peerspoint is using blockchain technology to ensure personal ownership and validation of sport data as well as allow access to a global ecosystem of peers and benefits. Their ecosystem will deliver a tangible sum of benefits attached to their LaaS: Players, Clubs, Coaches, Medical Staff, Volunteers, Leagues, Federations, Sponsors, Parents, Family, Friends, Fans, Intermediaries and more.

Sports Technology Group: STG future-proofs sports teams, organizations, and leagues by building their entire technology stack on blockchain technology. From internal operations to fan experiences and engagement, the ultimate goal is to ensure that data will be able to speak to each other, so that every future investment will work seamlessly together in real-time.

SportyCo: SportyCo is introducing a brand new industry of sports crowd micro-financing while providing athletes, clubs, and sports organizations with macro-funding on their respective end. Moreover, SportyCo is enabling a direct financial link between the participants on both respective ends. Blockchain-based, low in transaction costs, introducing smart contracts into the world of sport, as well as the use of DAO voting, will be the key elements.

Media & Fans

Fan360: The first sports community for fans, that covers the complete fan experience. Fans can follow their favourite sports star, club or brand and get rewarded for every action on the platform. Each like, share or content contribution is rewarded with FAN tokens. Fans collect them through a transparent bIockchain system, and can exchange them for special experience, merchandise, tickets or fiat money.

Fanchain: FanChain provides a framework in which fans are rewarded with a token that can be used within the sports ecosystem to which they contribute, and creates a feedback loop that incentivizes the community to contribute to the social conversation that they rely on for an optimal sports experience. FanChain introduces the concept of “Mints,” which allow third-party entities to distribute FanChain tokens that are stamped with a specific sports team, league or event.

Jetcoin: The main role of the Jetcoin Institute is to empower individuals in three major fields — sports, entertainment and media through digital asset based tools. The Jetcoin Institute is establishing new channels of interaction between fans and athletes. At the heart of the Institute is its crypto-currency, the Jetcoin. Fans invest Jetcoins in their favorite champions and stand to gain from the success of their Champions.

Scorum: Scorum provides cryptocurrency rewards for both content creators and curators. Community members get paid for publishing posts, voting, commenting and uploading photos. For sports writers we have developed custom solutions: sports analytics, interactive graphics and other great tools.

SportCo: Provides multiple ways for fans who contribute to content creation, knowledge share and building of communities to be rewarded. SPORTCO coin aims to be the preferred currency of choice across the global sports world and uses blockchain to decentralise and provide specific tools for analytic overlays, gaming, and online media experience.

Stargraph: An App that allows to receive authentic and personalized Stargraph autographs if you participate in major events such as concerts, matches, Formula1 and MotoGP races. Exclusive assets with real value backed by Blockchain technology.

TokenStars: TokenStars is the first celebrity management platform on the blockchain, providing advanced tools and incentives for deeper interaction between stars, fans, and advertisers. As a utility token, TEAM will be used in most of the interaction activities powered by the TokenStars platform, including providing incentives to fans and external agents for finding promising talents (scouts), making betting bids, and so on.

Games & Bets

BetOnChart: Bet on Chart is a unique platform combining highly profitable in-play sports betting with the dynamics of a live match. Modern technologies and the latest advancements in the field of AI allow us to recreate a football match in the form of a chart that moves up or down depending on the current field situation.

DreamTeam: DreamTeam is an infrastructure platform and payment gateway for esports and gaming. As an all-in-one platform, DreamTeam will securely connect all gamers, teams, sponsors, advertisers and tournaments; enabling mutual economic transactions within one global esports ecosystem.

FansUnite: FansUnite is created by bettors, for bettors, and was founded with the mission to improve conditions for sports bettors everywhere. We are revolutionizing the sports betting industry by harnessing the power of blockchain technology to provide cheaper, more secure, verifiable and transparent betting.

Footballcoin: Footballcoin is a football manager game platform using blockchain technology and issuing an own cryptocurrency (XFC) with the mission is to bring the advantages of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to Football Manager and Fantasy Sports users.

Ronaldinho Soccer Coin: The NEO blockchain based coin is aiming at various use cases, such as eSports, Betting and others.

Socios: Will offer the world’s first scalable, tokenized voting platform where fans can buy, trade & execute voting or ‘crowd managers’ rights in their favorite football teams. Powered by by the chiliZ fintech platform & $CHZ token.

You think I’ve missed a company? Reach me via LinkedIn, Twitter or mail.

The three key insights

We can observe that blockchain and cryptos are slowly finding their way into the sports industry, with startups appearing in all main areas of our framework. Here are the key insights we collected when comparing the companies mentioned above:

1. The fight for activity data might be won via the help of coins.

Lots of companies out there are competing for all the health and fitness related data of the masses, including heavy weights as the leading tech companies, big sports brands and the insurance companies of the world. So how can somebody else be successful in that space? Well, maybe with an intriguing coin-based reward system which let’s active people gain incentives, such as sports goods or tickets? Maybe blockchain based solutions are able to create the ultimate currency for fitness and for trading the data that most of us produce anyways? There’s also lots of potential involved for doing something good for the society, especially by making the population more active.

2. The “Tokenisation” of players and teams is a chance for the underserved.

In sports most of the money is on the top and not distributed in an equal or fair way. Think of all the Olympic medalist who are struggling to raise enough funding in their everyday life or smaller countries who have issues to ensure the competitiveness of their athletes. Blockchain based solutions offer the opportunity for new investment solutions, which don’t rely on one or a few big investors. New small investors can enter the market and own a share of athletes or clubs, all securely managed on the blockchain. Imagine that you can invest directly in a young athlete at the beginning of his/her career who you are very much convinced of. This was hardly possible before, and trading those shares could become a highly relevant new market.

3. Fans will be able to monetise their content.

The attention and engagement of the fans is one of the most sought after goods in the sports industry and players, teams, leagues, brands, etc. are competing for it. With the rise of blockchain new communities are arising, which incentivise the fans for their activities. Content will not only be provided for free anymore, but with a clear incentive in mind, that can be exchanged in real life goods or Fiat money. This could mean that we a) see completely new content platforms coming up and b) a new type of fan that is exploring various revenue opportunities. Maybe there will even be the “tokenised” super fan in which we can invest in (compare key insight 2)?

As blockchain and cryptos are still fairly new in sports, those insights can only be seen as first tendencies. Like in the overall market, there are still a lot of questions, uncertainties and risks. On the other hand we can attest that many areas within the sports industry are still untouched and the opportunities seem to be big. We’re very curious about the upcoming developments and trends.

Benjamin Penkert is the Founder of SportsTechX and Head of Consulting at leAD Sports in Berlin. You can get in touch via Linkedin, Twitter or email.

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