Americans who tune in to the super bowl on Sunday will be inundated with ads from cryptocurrency companies, including trading platform ftx, which plans to give away millions of dollars worth of bitcoin.
ftx has spent heavily on sports partnerships to try to make a name for itself in crypto, including an ad with nfl star tom brady, a sponsorship with major league baseball, and a $135 million deal to change the stadium name from miami heat to ftx arena .
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co-founder and CEO sam bankman-fried, who recently moved ftx headquarters from hong kong to the bahamas, says the ads are as much about courting us. regulators like getting customers to download your business app.
“We want to make sure we’re painting, hopefully, a healthy picture of ourselves and the industry,” said 29-year-old Bankman-Fried, who has a net worth of more than $24 billion, according to Forbes. “We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to grow our business in the US, a lot of that is working with US regulators to bring new products to market.”
The crypto industry includes virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ether, as well as non-fungible tokens, or nfts, which can provide proof of ownership of assets such as digital images or weapons within video games. both cryptocurrencies and nfts are built using an information storage technology called blockchain.
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is also notoriously volatile. The global crypto market exploded to a $3 trillion market capitalization late last year, fueled by the popularity of NFTs, which can be used as profile pictures or collectible art. A recession in January wiped out a lot of wealth, but it has since recovered to a $2 trillion market cap, according to coinmarketcap.
ftx competes with more well-known exchanges, such as coinbase, which allows users to buy and trade cryptocurrencies. But FTX makes most of its revenue outside of the United States, in a riskier subset of crypto derivatives trading, although some US traders dodge a ban on offshore exchanges like FTX or Binance. The United States does not currently offer licenses for crypto derivatives exchanges. ftx’s US subsidiary, ftx us, is licensed as a cryptocurrency exchange.
“the united states is a major global hub. what happens in the united states tends to reverberate quite a bit around the world,” said bankman-fried, who will testify before congress on wednesday about the risks and regulations surrounding the digital assets. He testified before Congress for the first time in December at a hearing on financial innovation, where executives argued for light regulation.
The staggering growth of the industry has raised concerns about a lack of protection for consumers and a lack of oversight of systemic financial risks, even as celebrities, influencers, and investors tout cryptocurrencies as a means of economic empowerment.
bankman-fried said lawmakers have shown “a lot of appetite” to develop a US law. crypto policy. during the house financial services committee hearing in december, when bankman-fried testified, he said he heard significant interest in “making sure we had enough customer protections against systemic risk, but also that the united states was a place competitive for the industry.
bankman-fried attended meetings in washington d.c. last week before the next hearing was announced. her visit was to “try to educate people as best I can and be a resource.”
The crypto sector in general has dramatically increased its spending on lobbying and political activities since losing a bid last summer to remove new industry reporting requirements from the senate infrastructure package. In one of the latest moves, a group of top executives including FTX Digital Markets CEO Ryan Salame have formed a super pac with the goal of spending $20 million in the midterm elections to pick crypto candidates. friendly.
Sixteen percent of Americans say they have personally invested, traded or used cryptocurrencies, according to a September Pew Research Center survey.
some of ftx’s competitors are also expected to advertise during the super bowl. global coinbase and canadian exchange bitbuy will also be announced, according to the wall street journal.
ftx raised $400 million in January at a $32 billion valuation, doubling its estimated value in six months. The latest round of investors included venture capital firms such as softbank and tiger global management, the paradigm of crypto ventures, as well as the ontario teachers pension plan board.
bankman-fried, speaking via zoom from his office in the bahamas, said the goal of ftx sports associations is less to persuade consumers to start ftx accounts than to persuade the brand.
“It’s going to affect how we’re viewed and framed for a long time,” he said.
ftx’s own studies have shown some impact from ads. The company found increased brand awareness in Houston and Atlanta, home to the two 2021 World Series teams, where FTX made a big advertising push, as well as in Miami, where the stadium is located. the company said it doubled its number of u.s. users in the last quarter of last year.
ftx super bowl announcement plays on people’s fear of missing out on the wealth creation of the crypto industry.
“It certainly hasn’t been the best last couple of months for the digital asset industry, but overall it’s been pretty much the best performing sector over the last year,” said bankman-fried.
The ftx ad promises to give bitcoins to four winners, equivalent to the time the ad is shown during the second half of the game. if the ad appears at 21:45, for example, each winner will get 9.45 bitcoins.
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tory newmyer of the washington post contributed to this report.
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