How Blockchain Is Revolutionizing Sports: Exclusive Insights from Chiliz CEO Alex Dreyfus

Welcome to the latest edition of the GoCrypto interview series with Mike Ermolaev, made possible by GoMining. Here we’re delving deep into an exclusive conversation with Alex Dreyfus, who turned his vision into reality with Chiliz and Socios.com, sparking a new era where fans hold more than just passion for their teams—they hold influence too. With his deep-rooted expertise from over 27 years as a digital entrepreneur, Alex has consistently stayed ahead of tech trends. Keeping his eyes on pushing boundaries, he explains how blockchain-fueled fan tokens are disrupting traditional sports engagement. Fans now have a say like never before—what will this mean moving forward? 

The Genesis of Fan Tokens in Football

Discussing the initial reactions of football clubs to fan tokens and the efforts to enhance their adoption, Alex Dreyfus recounted the early challenges and the groundbreaking support from clubs like Juventus FC and Paris Saint-Germain. 

He explains, “Pitching clubs at the beginning wasn’t easy, because when we launched the Socios.com app and the first Fan Tokens, in 2019, very few people in the sports industry knew what blockchain technology was and very few understood what we were trying to achieve. Plus, unlike other sports, football doesn’t have a strong tradition of embracing innovation and technology. That’s why we value so much the boldness of our first partners, Juventus FC and Paris Saint-Germain, who, no surprise, happen to be two of the most innovative brands in sports. The success of these first clubs soon attracted others. Before 2022 we already had more than 100 partners, including global powerhouses such as FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Inter Milan, Galatasaray, Flamengo, Fluminense, etc.” 

He further highlighted the diversity in the adoption rates among these clubs, saying, "Not all clubs have embraced their Fan Token in the same way or at the same pace. Some clubs have hired experts in the space and created specific strategies to develop and leverage the tool to its full potential, while others are taking more time. This is completely normal, that’s why we strive to keep close to them, and support and advise them whatever their strategy is or the goals they want to achieve."

Turning to the current focus of Chiliz and Socios.com, Alex Dreyfus emphasized their commitment to deepening existing partnerships rather than just expanding their number. “Although we are always open to increasing our roster of partners, at this moment we’re currently focused on strengthening the partnerships we already have in place. We do this by adding more utility to the Fan Token through increasing the catalog of benefits and rewards that Fan Token holders can access. But also by expanding the utility through partnerships and integrations with third party platforms, some of which are actually being built on the Chiliz chain, home to the growing SportFi ecosystem. Our vision is for the utility of Fan Tokens to expand far beyond the Socios.com app and unlock access to a wide range of third party platforms and ecosystems,” he explains. 

"The More You Act, The More You Get Rewarded": The Dynamic Uses of Fan Tokens

When asked about the specific use cases for fan tokens, such as voting on team decisions or accessing VIP perks, Alex Dreyfus detailed how they extend beyond these fundamental applications. He remarked, "Voting on team decisions through Fan Polls and accessing VIP experiences are two pillars of the Fan Token proposition, and indeed two of the most popular perks, but there is much more."

Explaining further, he shared, "On the decision side, Fan Tokens have given football fans the chance to make unprecedented calls such as choosing the design of their teams’ home and away kits, the squad number for a new signing, and the name of a new club facility or stadium stand, amongst others. These Fan Polls are very popular because in most cases it’s the first time that fans are being able to take part in these kinds of decisions."

On the experience side, Alex Dreyfus praised the team's accomplishments: "We’re proud to be able to say that we’ve also broken new ground and delivered unprecedented opportunities such as acting as the club’s official speaker for a day and announcing the lineup during a home match (we’ve done this with Argentina, CA Independiente, Millonarios FC, AC Milan, and Real Sociedad, amongst other clubs) or giving fans the chance to take part in the team’s official photo-shoot, which we did this season with AS Monaco and Atlético de Madrid."

He continued to describe how Fan Token holders can access various rewards: "Fan Token holders access these and other rewards such as VIP tickets, meet and greet sessions, and 'play on the pitch' experiences by redeeming the in-app loyalty points that they earn for free each time they engage with the multiple features of the Socios.com app, which include the Fan Polls but also match predictors, trivia quizzes, choosing match MVP, etc."

Highlighting the underlying philosophy of the fan tokens, Dreyfus stated, "A key element of the Fan Token proposition is that it recognizes fans for being active in the community - the more you act, the more you get rewarded."

Expanding the Horizon: New Developments in Fan Tokens and Partnerships 

When questioned about forthcoming developments or partnerships relating to fan tokens, Alex Dreyfus elaborated on the continuous improvements and expansions in their offerings. He highlighted, "We are constantly developing our platform to improve the experience of our Fan Token holders and increase the benefits they can access. In recent months we’ve introduced the Fan Favorite, through which fans can choose their favorite player of each match; the Locker Room, where they can earn points and rewards by locking in their Fan Tokens; and we’ve also improved our very popular Token Hunt feature, which gives users the chance to hunt for Fan Tokens. All these features give access to loyalty points which can be redeemed for rewards."

Discussing further integration of fan tokens into digital ecosystems, Dreyfus shared his excitement about making fan tokens more accessible directly through club websites and apps. "We are also working closely with our partners to integrate their Fan Token in their digital ecosystem and channels, meaning fans can access all the benefits of holding Fan Tokens directly from their club’s website or app. This is something we’re very excited about since it will allow us to make the tool available to hundreds of thousands of fans. In the coming months we will be launching these integrations with a number of partners."

He also revealed details about a significant partnership with Paris Saint-Germain. "With some clubs we are exploring deeper collaborations such as the one we recently announced with Paris Saint-Germain, who has become a validator node on the Chiliz Chain. PSG, the first football club to hire a Head of Web3 (Pär Helgosson), is bringing a very innovative approach to the partnership, pledging to use 100% of its accrued revenue as a node validator to conduct regular PSG Fan Token buybacks to consistently bolster the club’s digital economy for the benefit of their Fan Token holders."

Dreyfus concluded by mentioning the broader impacts of the Chiliz Chain beyond football. "On the other hand, through the Chiliz Chain we are working with multiple startups and developers who are building exciting products, from immersive club-themed digital worlds to football manager games, fitness challenge apps, NFT marketplaces and other exciting products bound to shape the future of sports, that Fan Tokens will be integrated to."

From Football to Formula 1: Chiliz's Bold Move to Dominate Global Sports with Fan Tokens

Alex Dreyfus was asked about Chiliz's plans to broaden the adoption of Fan Tokens beyond the realm of football. In his response, he emphasized the company's extensive reach across various sports disciplines. He stated, "Football is our biggest vertical in terms of partners, because it’s the world’s most popular sport, but we also work with the UFC and the PFL (mixed martial arts), the Davis Cup (tennis), several rugby clubs, Formula 1 teams, and a handful of esports organizations."

Dreyfus further elaborated on the long-term vision for Fan Tokens, highlighting their potential universal appeal and value across the entire sports industry. He expressed strong confidence in the future integration of Fan Tokens, saying, "In the long term, we’re confident that Fan Tokens will be embraced across the global sports industry and will bring value to organizations regardless of their sport and size. In this first stage, global brands with millions of fans across the world and highly professionalized teams and structures are best suited to act as early adopters and pave the path for the rest to benefit in the future."

"Our Best Advocates Are Our 2.2 Million Users": Inside Chiliz's Strategy to Engage Diverse Audiences

During a discussion on the marketing strategies for promoting fan tokens, Alex Dreyfus shared insights into the channels Chiliz finds most effective. He highlighted their multifaceted approach tailored to a broad audience, saying, "We use a wide range of channels (owned, earned, and paid) because we are targeting a very diverse audience: sports fans (especially the fans of our 80+ Fan Token partners), but also blockchain and crypto enthusiasts."

Dreyfus went on to detail the importance of leveraging partnerships and digital influencers to educate and engage their audience. "When targeting and especially educating sports fans, which is more important for us at this moment in time than converting them, obviously our partner’s channels (social media, newsletter, etc) play a key role. But in this era, you also need to lean on opinion leaders and digital influencers, especially brands focused on digital-native audiences as we are. Some of these content creators have stronger engagement rates than the clubs themselves."

He also touched upon the complexities of engaging the crypto community and the success of their digital marketing efforts. "The crypto community is slightly more fragmented, but our digital marketing team has done a great job over the course of these years and Chiliz and Socios.com have a combined growing community of over 1m followers."

Concluding his thoughts on the topic, Dreyfus expressed pride in the authentic support from the user base of Chiliz and Socios.com. "However—and this is not disrespect to the great influencers we’ve worked with and will continue to work with both on the sports side and on the crypto side—I’m proud to say that our best advocates, the ones that communicate our proposition more passionately, are by far our more than 2.2 million users."

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

 



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Source: How Blockchain Is Revolutionizing Sports: Exclusive Insights from Chiliz CEO Alex Dreyfus
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