If you are a tech-savvy sports fan, it may have caught your eye when the Sacramento Kings announced that they would soon become the first major U.S. sports team to accept the peer-to-peer currency Bitcoin. If you don’t know what Bitcoin is (and have time to do some reading) I suggest checking out this site.
For those who don’t have time to read, here’s the run down: As a peer-to-peer currency, Bitcoin allows two parties to complete a financial transaction over the internet without the need for a middle-man. It accomplishes this through a cryptographic network designed to ensure that every transaction is legitimate (no double-spending).
Started in 2008, the currency has slowly gained traction with an increasing amount of businesses accepting Bitcoins for their goods and services including Overstock.com, TigerDirect.com, Reddit, and WordPress (the publishing platform that, coincidentally, hosts The Landry Hat).
While the mechanics behind a BTC transaction are complicated, what matters are the benefits to both parties involved. For the retailer, no middle-men means significantly lower transaction fees. Accepting Bitcoin costs the retailer about 1% of the transaction price (on average), compared to 2.5-3% for traditional credit and debit cards.
For consumers the advantage is security. While plastic cards are security nightmares because each one has the keys to the owner’s bank account printed on the card itself, Bitcoin’s system is designed to privatize the buyer’s information, keeping them safe from identity theft.
Furthermore, Bitcoin offers added convenience in a stadium setting. Fans would now be able to order food and drinks directly to their seats, quickly and securely, from a mobile phone. From an entertainment perspective (and we know Jerry loves that), Bitcoin payments just makes sense.
Here’s Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive, on the topic:
We are maniacally focused on creating the most seamless experience for our fans in all facets…With (Bitcoin), we are able to implement a technology that allows our fans to make Kings-related purchases without physically reaching into their wallets.
Even though there are obvious advantages to accepting Bitcoin, the Cowboys would still be stepping into uncharted waters with a move like this. The Sacramento Kings are most definitely the exception to the rule when it comes to accepting the fledgling currency. Why would the Cowboys want to go through the trouble of catering to such a young and unproven system?
One could argue that it fits with the organization’s tradition.
Dallas has always been a pioneer when it comes to trying new ideas in the NFL, on and off the field. Here’s a great article from CBS DFW that outlines innovations that the Cowboys helped produce, including:
- Using IBM computers in the 60s
- Scouting small colleges
- Specific position coaches
- Signing players from other sports
- Team dieticians and psychologists
- The flex defense
And many, many more things that helped to make the NFL what it is today (seriously, check out the article, it’s impressive).
At the moment Bitcoin only appeals to a niche demographic but I expect that to change in the coming years because there are some cool benefits to be had for both consumer and producer. The Cowboys should learn from their history and seize the opportunity to be at the forefront of a new and exciting way to enhance the fan experience.
They already have the most spectacular stadium in the world. Why not accept the world’s most technologically advanced money?