Crypto cash is now flowing into both of Australia’s major winter sporting codes, mirroring a sponsorship boom that has already overtaken the US.
Crypto cash is now flowing into both of Australia’s major winter sporting codes as the NRL announces a massive three-year tie-in with Brisbane-based exchange Swyftx.
The deal announced on Thursday is the NRL’s foray into crypto sponsorship and extends the march of cryptocurrencies across the Australian sporting landscape.
Swyftx has not disclosed how big the NRL deal is in comparison to January’s bumper five-year, $25m tie-in between the AFL and Crypto.com, but it is understood to be worth several million dollars.
The NRL said Swyftx signage would be prominent at matches – including NRLW games, the finals series, State of Origin and All-Stars games – while the competition’s controversial in-game review board would be renamed the ‘Swyftx Bunker’ from the 2023 season.
There is also an option for the NRL to extend the deal by another three years to 2026.
“Swyftx is an Australian business that operates on a global scale and there are unique ways for our partnership to benefit both organisations,’’ NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said on Thursday.
“We have a diverse fan base and Swyftx brings an opportunity to promote the game to a wide audience.”
Crypto partnerships are increasingly creeping into Australian sport, having already made moves on a number of Europe and US leagues, teams and venues.
Crypto.com – as well as teaming up with the AFL last month – partners with the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, the Italian Serie A Football League and Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain.
It is also the $700m naming rights sponsor to the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and Kings and late last year recruited Hollywood actor Matt Damon for a Superbowl ad.
Back home, the locally-founded independent Reserve announced in December it would be backing the Sydney Swans, while CoinSpot in September extended its deal with the Western Bulldogs for another two years.
Australian Baseball League club Perth Heat in December announced it would be paying its players in Bitcoin via a partnership with payments company OpenNode.
The NRL deal is not first sporting sponsorship for Swyftx, with the Queensland company having already inked sponsorship deals with the Brisbane Lions of the AFL and Big Bash cricket franchise Adelaide Strikers.
Swyftx – started by 27 year olds Alex Harper and Angus Goldman in 2018 – also partnered with the Repco Bathurst 1000 Supercars event in December.
The NRL deal comes at a volatile time for crypto, with Bitcoin down more than 30 per cent on its November peak of $91,000 amid a series of wild gyrations in global financial markets.
Swyftx chief executive Ryan Parsons, a Canberra Raiders fan, said the NRL sponsorship was further indication of the increased acceptance of digital assets as mainstream investments.
“This is a defining partnership for the NRL and Swyftx and represents a major milestone for the Australian crypto industry,” Mr Parsons said.
“Our Brisbane office overlooks the cauldron, Suncorp Stadium, and many of our staff walk to the ground after work to watch the NRL Telstra Premiership or Ampol State of Origin.
“It’s now clear that crypto and digital asset investing forms part of a typical portfolio and it’s great to see Australians embracing this new technology.”
Swyftx employs 180 people and allows users to trade more than 300 cryptocurrencies.