For sports clubs, fan engagement is increasingly crucial as clubs and organisations turn to new technologies as a means to better connect with supporters.

An increasingly popular method to emerge in recent years has been the use of cryptocurrency ‘Fan Tokens,’ which have been adopted by a diverse range of football clubs such as AC Milan, Paris St Germain and Juventus, as well as by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Swansea City of the EFL Championship is another notable example, forming a partnership with fintech firm Mercuryo.

During an interview with Insider Sport, Steve Madincea, Founding Director of Fantastec and Fantastec SWAP, discussed his company’s approach to fan engagement, the increase of socially conscious campaigns by sporting clubs and the rise in the collaboration with cryptocurrency.

Providing background on the firm, Madincea stated: “Fantastec SWAP app is a blockchain-based digital collectibles platform that is revolutionising the way fans engage with digital content produced by clubs. Fantastec SWAP works with sports teams, brands, and athletes to engage with their fans through the use of emerging technologies including blockchain, AR and VR.

“We work with top-tier clubs such as Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and Arsenal, to use their rights-free assets to create desirable digital collectibles fans can collect, curate and swap via the app.

“Our technology means fans living on the other side of the world to their favourite club are treated the same as fans close to the stadium, so they can all collect and curate exclusive memorable team content.

“I believe we’re creating our own digital fan engagement space in the sporting industry. This is away from the Betting and Fantasy gambling sectors. We have defined our own area for digital collectibles, offering a whole new way for fans to engage with their favourite teams and players.

The Director went on to emphasise just how fruitful relationships can be between clubs and cryptocurrency as alternative avenues open up. 

He stated: “There is no doubt that such crypto ‘fan tokens’ provide a way to monetise fan engagement, but you have to ask at what cost to the fan and the team.

“Cryptocurrencies are notoriously unstable – we’ve seen stratospheric and unregulated rises – for example, when Bitcoin increased in value by more than 900%, which have been followed by stark drops. There remains a reluctance from governing bodies to legitimise the industry, as well as a lack of trust from retailers and businesses.

“With these new ‘Fan Tokens’, we need to consider whether they are worthwhile to the fan. Modern fans are savvy when they’re being sold a dud that only benefits one side of the club/fan relationship.

“With this in mind, clubs that do engage with these new tokens must be willing to offer enough to make it worthwhile for the fan to engage or risk losing fans for life.

“While cryptocurrency is the most widely discussed application of blockchain technology, the great thing about blockchain is it allows things to be protected and secure.

“Fantastec SWAP pegs its digital collectibles to the blockchain so that they are a unique, irrefutable record of an asset that can be fully trusted, since the blockchain can prove its scarcity providing a new layer of protection.

“For example, at Fantastec we co-create a lot of our exclusive content with the players.

So, we film players doing digital autographs, which are then made into an exclusive collectible collection that can’t be forged and which can’t be manipulated or changed.”