In brief

  • SBI e-Esports, part of the SBI Group, will offer players salaries in Ripple’s XRP.
  • Super Smash Bros. and FIFA players were announced today with XRP salaries.
  • The new esports organization will hold a security token offering on October 30.

SBI e-Sports, the recently-established esports team of Japanese financial firm SBI Holdings, announced today that it has signed two professional players to its team—and will pay both of them in Ripple’s XRP cryptocurrency.

The company announced its intention to pay pro players in XRP in late September via a partnership with SBI VC Trade, SBI’s crypto asset sales division. However, the announcement stated that the decision to accept XRP as payment would be up to the individual players.

Today, SBI e-Sports announced its first two signings: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate player Kenji “Ken” Suzuki, known as one of Japan’s top pros in the Nintendo Switch fighting game, and FIFA 21 player Subaru “Mikey” Sagano. Mikey previously competed on behalf of German soccer club 1. FC Nürnberg.

“Players will be paid in the crypto asset ‘XRP’ instead of Japanese yen based on the wishes of the player and the sponsorship contract with SBI VC Trade Co., Ltd,” reads the announcement on Ken’s signing. The XRP element of their contracts was highlighted not only in the team’s announcements, but also in the individual players’ tweets about the signings.

SBI e-Sports is seemingly the first esports team organization to make cryptocurrency salary payments a key part of its public messaging. The division was first announced in June, and while the SBI VC Trade deal had not yet been announced, the organization did signal plans to collaborate with SBI’s financial services divisions.

“The company aims to raise awareness of the SBI Group by strengthening contact points with the digital generation, and to create synergies with the various financial services businesses of the SBI Group,” reads the original announcement.

Last week, the SBI Group announced plans to launch a security token offering for SBI e-Sports on October 30. The offering will include 1000 total shares in the company at a price of 50,000 yen (about $475) apiece, and will take place via BOOSTRY’s ibet blockchain platform.

SBI Group, a partner of Ripple and significant stakeholder, began offering XRP dividends to certain shareholders earlier this year. MorningStar Japan, which SBI holds a 48% stake in, did the very same thing in September 2019.