How Blockchain Is Helping Sports Enthusiasts Flex Their Fandom


Sports industry affiliations are hot for luxury brands and with Olympics fever in full swing, sporting heroes are luxury’s newest bedfellows.

As a premium partner of The Olympic and Paralympic Games, LVMH has signed athlete ambassadors both at group level and within Maisons including Dior and Louis Vuitton.

The luxury Group has also launched immersive, gamified 3D platform The Maison of All Victories with Paris based studio Cosmic Shelter to showcase the multiple facets of its partnership via photos, videos and 3D models with ambassadors sharing inspirations and newsroom and social updates as the games unfold.

It’s just such immersive experiences that make the visitor feel as though they’re participating in the action instead of merely sitting on the sidelines. Technology facilitates this closeness and can also give sports enthusiasts enhanced access and opportunities to flex their fandom.

According to Rachel Conlan Global Chief Marketing Officer at leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance, “blockchain is the next level way to create those deeper interactions and ultimately improve the fan experience beyond what is in the in stadium or at the grid.

The Binance Forever Worldwide NFT Collection

Since 2022, Binance has partnered with Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the Pharrell Williams of soccer, on a series of NFT drops aiming to do just this.

The collection is linked to various cities that have been important to the soccer star over his career with a different story around each. Tokens come with perks from artwork posters and vintage jerseys to match tickets and even the opportunity to play with Ronaldo during in a special training festival in Portugal.

There’s also a gamified collect-to-earn mechanism whereby holders of multiple tokens can enter a draw to win a trip to Riyadh to watch one of the matches.

While a special limited edition auction drop on Sunday started at $777, the digital collectibles generally come in at an accessible $35.

Throughout the partnership, Binance has shared special pieces of content such as a filmed lie detector test to see whether Ronaldo’s answers to a series of questions were true or an exercise in diplomacy.

“The goal, says Conlan, “is to offer people different rewards and incentives that they would never get to experience in a traditional giveaway. You have to ensure that there’s real life benefits and real life utility.”

Conlan is a marketing professional of some 20 years standing. Prior to taking on the Binance role in 2023 she spent five years overseeing global brand partnerships for the sports division of entertainment leader Creative Artists Agency (CAA) where she helped connect IPs like Formula 1 and teams like McLaren with big brands from airlines and technology to fashion.

It was through CAA that she began to work in the fintech and crypto space, becoming attracted to the latter’s promise of financial democratization. Hence her move to Binance just over a year ago.

Synergy Between Cryptocurrency And Sports

“I think there’s actually a very natural fit,” she says. “The crypto community is incredibly passionate about discussing digital assets and equally, we see that sports fans are incredibly engaged and enthusiastic about their teams. So I think there’s already a natural synergy just based on just these attributes.”

Sports and entertainment provide an incredible platform to introduce people to crypto, she adds, one “that is not just about the functional and the value proposition, it’s in a much more emotional way based on story telling and shared values and an opportunity to set the cultural agenda.”

Aside from engagement and storytelling, moving forward, another area of interest is fan tokens—allowing fans to vote on club decisions—and also the verification of memorabilia and tickets.

“Blockchain technology can optimize the entire purchasing process within sports clubs. It’s a practical solution to black market tickets which are a huge issue in the sports world,” she argues noting that such authentication is relevant not just for sports, but for the luxury industry in general. For instance, the LVMH backed Aura Blockchain Consortium has recently announced that OTB will use its blockchain technology to provide customers with digital authenticity certificates for all products of its luxury brands.

Education And Advocacy

Conlan’s role at Binance also has an advocacy and educational remit—promoting the wider benefits of cryptocurrency use and striving to change public perceptions. For instance, she is working with the government in Kazakhstan via a crypto university for which Binance is helping define the curriculum.

Her platform’s partnership with Farfetch is another proof point. The luxury fashion marketplace launched Binance Pay, its Binance powered crypto payment facility, in 2022. The fashion and sports industries, she says, are often the early adopters of emerging technologies because they must always “anticipate what their customer wants.”

Conlan reveals that Farfetch saw a 20% increase in crypto payments from Q3 to Q4 in 2023 and a 57% surge in transaction volumes in the first quarter of 2024. “That just shows the opportunity and the potential for these real life utilities or real life experiences that people can have with crypto,” she says.

While Binance hit the 200m user milestone last weekend, she notes that cryptocurrency is “still so nascent as an industry”—still only at 10%. “Partnerships like Farfetch are critical for increasing penetration.”



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