Last week NBA basketball team the Sacramento Kings, in collaboration with ConsenSys and Treum, used a blockchain platform to auction off genuine in-game sports gear. A jersey worn during a game by Kings guard Buddy Hield received 73 bids and was sold for $1,090 for the benefit of Hurricane Dorian relief.
The Sacramento Kings team is currently ranked 14th out of 15 in the NBA Western Conference. This month, another 14th ranked team, this time Italian Series A soccer club Violas, also launched a blockchain-based authentication solution for player-worn jerseys.
The Kings/Treum solution enables a transparent audit trail of the product. But the key to any blockchain solution is how do you know it’s authentic in the first place? Because it’s on a blockchain makes it extremely hard to alter, but data that’s false in the first place can be stored just as easily as legitimate data.
In the past, people often fraudulently claimed pro players wore basketball gear during games, so the NBA instituted a process, the NBA & MeiGray Game-Worn Jersey Authentication Program. The counterfeit-proof tags inserted in the hems of the jersey have “unidentified covert features”. And the NBA has a centralized database to check jersey authenticity.
So what can Treum add to that? Perhaps more transparency. While the NBA database might tell you whether an item is authentic, a supply chain application could tell you how many times its ownership changed hands.
There’s a real opportunity here. EBay dominates the sports memorabilia market and some claim it processes almost $5 billion in collectible merchandise annually. If eBay transactions could be integrated with a blockchain platform, then the history of a large proportion of collectibles could become more transparent.
“We have integrated blockchain technology into our business across multiple platforms, including our reward program,” said Kings CTO Ryan Montoya. “And now our fans will have the opportunity to securely purchase authentic game-worn merchandise in real-time using an innovative blockchain-based solution.”
The Ethereum-based blockchain platform, Treum, targets supply chain traceability and transparency and is backed by ConsenSys. The latter is also known for its LVMH blockchain platform AURA to prevent luxury goods counterfeits. The AURA platform uses a private version of Ethereum, but Treum leverages public Ethereum.
One of Treum’s case studies was tracing yellowfin tuna caught in Fiji to New York. Partners and clients include WWF and GlaxoSmithKline.
Meanwhile, sports and digital collectibles are becoming busy areas for blockchain. Another ConsenSys backed firm Sorare developed a blockchain fantasy soccer game around digital collectibles with Atletico Madrid as one of the partners.
Two European startups are targeting soccer. Fantastec SWAP has signed Real Madrid, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund. And Socios.com, which has a fan token emphasis, secured deals with Juventus, Atlético de Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, and West Ham.