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Shoe manufacturer New Balance has teamed up with LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard and technology engineering company IOHK for a blockchain pilot featuring its new sneaker, launched today.
Dubbed the OMN1S, the sneaker is New Balance’s first basketball shoe, and the partnership is the first retail deployment of the Cardano blockchain, developed by Wyoming-based IOHK.
Fans can record ownership of their box-fresh OMN1S, available in six colorways, on the blockchain, thus guaranteeing authenticity.
“We’re helping customers feel confident that the footwear they are purchasing fulfill[s] the quality promise that is central to the New Balance brand,” said Ian Fitzpatrick, Head of Global Content and Digital Marketing at New Balance, in a statement.
Welcome to the Fun House
For three days, starting today, the sneakers will be available at an exclusive New Balance x Shoe Palace pop-up shop, Kawhi’s Fun House, on LA’s Melrose Avenue.
Customers will also receive a “Realchain” card with an embedded identity and security chip, with which they can use to claim ownership by registering a code on shoes on the blockchain via an app.
“It's just the beginning of a long term relationship,” IOHK Chief Executive Charles Hoskinson told Decrypt at the end of last month when the pilot was first annnounced.
He also spoke of the technology’s potential for other high value brands, and for secondary market places such as eBay, where blockchain authentication “makes a tremendous amount of sense for consumer protection.”
As demand for premium sneakers has grown, a secondary market has bubbled up, and is now believed to be worth between $300 million to $1 billion.
However, this isn’t the first time blockchain has been used to authenticate sneakers. Chronicled Inc, a vintage sneaker company, raised $3.4 million in 2016 for their “blockchain verification platform.”
Cardano released its testnet for the decentralized version of its blockchain last month, and is planning a major rollout of new features over the coming months.