Socios.com, a cryptocurrency platform that has issued tokens for sports fans of 10 European soccer clubs including Juventus, FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, is rolling out a wish list where fans make deposits to buy cryptocurrency from major teams that haven’t yet issued any blockchain-based bucks. The feature, called Locker Room, already has $1 million in deposits, with 60% of the funds pledged to buy crypto from Real Madrid, with Manchester City and AC Milan splitting the remainder about equally, according to Socios founder and CEO Alexandre Dreyfus.
“We thought we could spice things up in term of contents [for existing Socios clients] and create a fear-of-missing-out situation,” said Dreyfus in a phone interview. “Here we say, pledge some amount—$5 dollars, $100 dollars—and be among the first to get a token from a team.”
While Socios has partnerships with the clubs for which it issues crypto, it isn’t naming the famous squads fans are pledging for in the Locker Room because there’s no agreement to issue currency with those clubs. Fans divine that pledging for “Manchester Blue” is probably Man City, for instance. Socios clients make deposits backing their pledges, which are returned after six months if there isn’t a crypto deal struck with the team they want, Dreyfus said. If a cryptocurrency is issued, users get 10% of the amount they pledged credited back into their Socios account.
There already is a vibrant world of sports team cryptocurrency, according to Dreyfus. About 335,000 people have downloaded the Socios app, and the company has between 20,000 and 30,000 active clients. When Socios partnered with FC Barcelona to issue $1.5 million worth of tokens in June, the entire offering was sold in 15 minutes. Recent token sales for Trabzonspor, a Turkish soccer club, Cyprus’ Apollon Limassol soccer team and Spanish esports squad Team Heretics each sold about $700,000 worth of cryptocurrency within the first 15 minutes, according to Socios. Fans can also trade tokens—typically valued at 2 euro each—through the app.
Most of the money from offerings goes to the teams, with Socios taking a fee. While the dollars involved aren’t negligible, Dreyfus said the cryptocurrency offerings are also a long-term way to boost fan engagement for sports teams.
“How do you define a fan in 2020? Is it someone who follows you on Twitter or someone watching on Fox Sports or someone who has a ticket and is in the stadium? It’s very fragmented,” he explained. “What we are naively trying to achieve is to give this social stage to a person to say, ‘Hey, I’m a fan 2.0 of my team and I own this fan token Socios is building.’”
For the team’s part, Socios requires squads offer some perk that goes along with owning a token. For instance, Juventus allowed token-holders to vote on what music should be played in the stadium after a goal and what colors the team bus should be painted. Crypto buyers also typically get a discount on the team’s fan shop and access to additional offers like on-field experiences and tickets to matches.
While Socios has been focused on Europe and, specifically, soccer, cricket and esports, it expects to move into North America at some point. The company is working with UFC right now, though no token is on the offering yet, said Dreyfus.
“This is a multiyear push. This is a new vertical of fan engagements and fan monetization,” he added. “Teams are competing with each other not only on the field, but also in the way they can engage with their fans, especially casual fans.