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Atlético Madrid plans sneaker NFTs with web3 app STEPN

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Football club Atlético de Madrid (Madrid) is collaborating with digital asset platform Whalefin and Web3 fitness app STEPN to release 1,001 NFT sneakers featuring Madrid’s players, trophies and stadium.

STEPN is a blockchain-based fitness app that launched the so-called “move-to-earn” sector where users earn cryptocurrency for outdoor activities such as walking, jogging and running and involves buying NFT sneakers to get started. It launched in public beta in December 2021 and peaked in May with more than 700,000 active users. However, by last month that figure had dropped below a quarter of a million.

Dubbed the Genesis Collection, the first Atlético Madrid drop consists of 200 sneakers. They give owners exclusive benefits, including access to exclusive signed jerseys, limited WhaleFin NFT airdrops and bonus interest coupons. Such offline benefits have never been available with a STEPN Genesis collection before.

For Atlético Madrid, the STEPN move-to-earn concept arguably sets this particular partnership apart from existing uses of blockchain technology by sports teams.

“Through this partnership, our goal is to connect the world of exercise to the Web3 space and provide tangible, real-world rewards for global fans who own a pair of NFT sneakers from the Genesis collection. This launch is a pivotal step in our roadmap to unlock both the value of collectability and utility of NFTs,” said STEPN’s Chief Revenue Officer Mable Jiang.

While NFT shoes are not a new concept, this approach is unlike how sports teams usually engage with blockchain technology. Some obtain sponsorships from crypto exchanges like Binance. Others, including football clubs Juventus and Manchester City, create fungible fan tokens, while Liverpool and La Liga have NFTs featuring images of players. Platforms NBA Top Shot and NFL ALL DAY release NFTs of video highlights.

It is also interesting that Whalefin chose to collaborate with a sports team rather than a shoe company, given how footwear brands have begun experimenting with this NFT genre.

Under Armour launched Genesis Curry Flow NFTs featuring NBA star Stephen Curry’s sneakers, while Nike has a collection of customizable NFT sneakers called Nike CryptoKicks. Notably, CryptoKicks were produced by RTFKT Studios, a digital fashion brand well-known for its sneakers before Nike acquired it.

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