What Do Lionel Messi, the 76ers, and OnlyFans Have in Common?

Global superstar Lionel Messi recently decided to walked away from his boyhood club FC Barcelona to start a new life in Paris, playing for PSG.

Messi’s contract – which is worth a minimum of 41 million euros a year and could earn the player up to 75 million euros per year before endorsements – included a “welcome package” worth an estimated 25-30 million euros. A “significant” part of that welcome package was, in fact, a crypto-related payment that saw the superstar receive an unspecified number of PSG’s Fan Token.

Fan Tokens, which have already been adopted by some of the largest sports and sporting clubs in the world – including the UFC, Philadelphia 76ers, and European soccer giants FC Barcelona and Manchester City – take fandom to the next level, allowing fans that hold the club’s tokens access to exclusive club events, as well as the ability to vote on certain club decisions. To be clear, this doesn’t make holders a part owner in the club, but it does afford the holder the ability to influence some decisions.

Unlike NFTs – which have also become very popular this year – the digital tokens come with a level of interactivity with an existing – and loved – institution that might help these digital assets hold their value a little longer compared to the Ethereum smart-contracts that simply come with a cute jpeg of a penguin.

Holders of Fan Tokens can win VIP experiences, meet and greets, attend special events that require token ownership, and win club collectibles, all while getting to influence certain – minor – decisions made by the club. Oh, and holding a – hopefully – appreciating asset.

Among the many decisions that token holders are currently influencing are: picking the message on the captain’s armband at PSG, changing the goal celebration song at Juventus, and re-naming a training pitch after a club legend at AS Roma.

Socios, the primary company creating Fan Tokens that runs on the chiliz blockchain, is expanding rapidly and has already found its way out of Europe and around the globe. Chiliz operates as both an Ethereum based cryptocurrency and a company with the same name (“chiliz”). The company’s goal is to bring fans closer to the clubs they love, while the chililz (chz-usd) blockchain platform makes that possible.

By paying Lionel Messi, partly, in PSG Fan Tokens, it seems like a new era of not only fandom, but big-name contracting is on the horizon. Messi’s ownership of these tokens allows him to earn more money through increased interest in the club due to his arrival. This is similar to how companies oftentimes give executives stock options as an incentive to raise shareholder value.

Similarly, fans are able to profit off of good trades and draft picks as well. This essentially brings fans a new way to bet on the success of their sports teams and could rival online sports betting which has soared as regulations surrounding online gambling loosen.

How Have These ‘Investments’ Fared?

That varies from club to club, but interest in the new tokens continues to soar as new partnerships and trade volume continue to ramp up. Over the course of the past month, PSG has gained 56.32%, increasing from 22.05 euros, all the way to 35.44 euros. During the period of time where speculation began to grow that Messi could be on his way to PSG, the coin soared to 60.49 euros on August 10 when the announcement was made, before stumbling and stabilizing at current levels.

While the price for many of these tokens has jumped, it is important to remember that, while there are many use cases for this technology, it remains new and could always fall out of favor amongst fans, especially if the things fans can vote on get deemed meaningless. Volatility will remain high for these kinds of assets as new deals are struck, bringing new fans to the platform, and this will likely be exacerbated during big transfers and draft picks.

So Where Does OnlyFans Come in Here?

Well, recently there has been a lot of hoopla surrounding the site’s shift away from sexually explicit material. OnlyFans decided to switch up the content allowed on their site for seemingly unknown reasons, but speculation has suggested that Mastercard’s new requirements surrounding payments to sexually explicit sites may have influenced the move.

While the OnlyFans business model was never explicitly about adult content, a lot of adult-oriented content creators found an audience on the site. With the shift away from sexually explicit content that will likely see a lot of the site’s most-popular creators leave soon, OnlyFans will become much more limited in who will make money using the platform. This will likely make the site concentrate heavily on celebrity content creators, while also trying to attract creators who might otherwise use Patreon or another similar service.

There are already several blockchain based products that might step in to this void, and we’re likely to see more as content creators look to avoid the rules that can be imposed by payment processors tied to traditional finance. Even for creators of non-adult content, a block-chain token model could be attractive as it provides additional branding opportunities and could potentially give creators new ways to monetize their fandom.

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