Barcelona FC, the second biggest soccer club in the world, and home of the world’s top player Lionel Messi, announced today that its 300 million fans will soon have their own token

The initiative, which will give fans voting rights, gifts and special club merchandise, is the result of a new partnership with Malta-based blockchain startup Chiliz (CHZ) and its platform socios.com.  

“FC Barcelona is of course one of our biggest achievements, after Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and so many great partners,” Alexandre Dreyfus, CEO of Chilliz and socios.com told Decrypt

The startup has been busy tokenizing the beautiful game, but its ambitions, which extend to other sports, gaming, and an exchange, certainly don’t stop there.  

The 'Barça Fan Token’

Socios.com has already partnered with and issued tokens for some of the top clubs in the world—including Juventus (JUV,) Paris Saint-Germain (PSG,) Atletico de Madrid (ATM) and West Ham (WHU).

The new “Barça Fan Token,” or BAR as it’s called within the Socios.com app, will be launched my midsummer. And 40 million will be issued at approx €2 ($2.15) per token.

This week, Chiliz also launched its AS Roma token (ASR) and CHZ was listed on leading Turkish exchange ParibuCom, to push the token for Istanbul’s Galatasaray SK (GAL)—the biggest soccer club in Turkey.

Chiliz: the grand plan

Chiliz raised over $60 million in an initial coin offering, from investors including Binance, OK Blockchain Capital and FBG Capital in 2018.

The startup is based in the city of Gzira, where it administers Malta’s Chillz blockchain campus, a crypto startup incubator and coworking space, and is at the epicenter of Malta’s crypto community. 

As a fan token issuer it has few (if any) competitors, and is fast mopping up soccer clubs, and moving into other assets. Fan tokens for esports giants OG (OG) will be available from March. The aim is to have in excess of 50 Socios.com partners from football, esports and and entertainment by the end of this year.

The socios.com platform uses ERC20 tokens or Non-Fungible Tokens.  And these can be exchanged for Chiliz own token on chiliz.net, a first-of-its-kind crypto exchange for sports and entertainment products, launched last month on desktop, iOS and Android.

The exchange is unique as the first to focus on traditional crypto products, rather than cryptocurrencies, which means its not in competition with the big exchanges. But it does feature traditional crypto pairs such as BTC/USDT to boost liquidity, with more to be added. 

"This is just the beginning, as we are onboarding more teams, launching new sports and more importantly preparing the launch of the trading activity with pairs like BAR/CHZ, JUV/CHZ, PSG/CHZ, etc.,” said Dreyfus.

The main focus is on Asia

While Chiliz is headquartered in Malta, Chiliz.net will operate from Singapore, as part of the company’s growth plans in Asia. Dreyfus believes that, in future, when trading takes off, the exchange business will be driven from Singapore, as Chiliz main focus is Asia for sports fans.

Big clubs like Juventus, PSG, and Barça have more fans in China & Asia, than in their own country, said Dreyfus.

"The idea is that Socios.com is more European and casual focus, while Chiliz Exchange is for hardcore traders and Asian focus,” he added.

Last year, Chiliz it also announced a blockchain research hub, based in Beijing to support the Chinese sports industry, and it’s expanding its operations in South Korea.  

But what’s most exciting is the potential for adoption; the marriage of crypto and the sports industry, with its global audience of some 3.5 billion, now being primed for adoption.