Could Swansea City Benefit From Fan Token Digital Assets?

The world of digital assets and NFTs is a complicated one, where those who understand them see them as the future, and those who don’t understand have no idea what is going on.

By Christopher Elkins from Bristol, United Kingdom – IMAGE_154, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12249446

Terms such as the metaverse, fan tokens, cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) may be a foreign language to some, but here in Swansea, there are those at the forefront of the industry. One local company, iCreate, recently entered the metaverse market by creating 3D visuals for Dubai-based NFT boutique Jumi. The metaverse is an umbrella term for digital space where people can shop and even own a property they decorate. Think of it as a video game everyone can play in any way they wish.

Whilst that might seem baffling to some, another form of digital asset is making significant waves globally, and Swansea City could see tangible real-world benefits. We’re talking about fan tokens, a product delivered by a company called Socios, which have proven very popular in recent months. A fan token is a cryptocurrency-backed digital asset which delivers real-world benefits, such as votes on club direction and exclusive digital content. Whilst the metaverse might seem like something out of Star Trek to everyday residents of Swansea, fan tokens are more easily described.

When one buys a fan token, they do so through the Socios app. It is available on iPhone and Android or a home computer. Tokens are purchased by converting money into Chiliz – the blockchain that backs the fan token. Once purchased, the blockchain registers you as the owner, and that cannot be altered or changed until you decide to sell. Your fan token has a real-world value, increasing or decreasing depending on a club’s fortunes. You may buy a fan token as an investment, although they’re not marketed as such. Instead, they’re seen as a digital key to unlock the benefits we mentioned earlier.

At the moment, only so-called big clubs have a fan token option, but Premier League clubs on a similar level to Swansea, such as Crystal Palace, are entering the market. The rewards are significant for clubs; AC Milan raised more than $6m (£4.8m) in the first few days of their fan token release, and those who invested were rewarded. When they hit the top spot in Serie A, the value rocketed and is second only to PSG. Their token has been valuable from the start, as Lionel Messi is an ambassador for the brand.

There are no plans for Swansea to enter the fan token market right now, but more clubs globally are coming on board, and if Premier League promotion were achieved, then a release would be highly likely. That would mean fans worldwide might get to vote on the design for the team bus, as Trabzonspor supporters did, or perhaps even on a third kit design.

The potential of cryptocurrency is not alien to The Swans, who signed a deal with fintech company Mercuryo in 2020. They became the club’s official cryptocurrency partner, benefiting from promotional posts on its social media channels and permanent branding on LED boards around the pitch. It isn’t quite a bold step into fan tokens, but it is a willingness to embrace the developing technology on the commercial department’s part.

You might not have heard of the metaverse and might not understand blockchain, but fan tokens and digital assets could soon be coming to Swansea City or a football club near you. With real-world benefits and a potential financial windfall for the club, they’re a great example of NFT and digital asset technology becoming an accepted part of our culture.

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