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Super Bowl, LA Lakers & Forbes: Crypto seeks higher profile

By Daniela Ešnerová


Updated

FTX (FTT) stadium
Last November, cryptocurrency exchange FTX bought naming rights for Los Angeles stadium, home to LA Lakers – Photo: Shutterstock

More than 112 million viewers tuned in Sunday for what has been dubbed the ‘Crypto Super Bowl’.

The champion game of American professional football was the most watched US television broadcast of the year, delivering a huge audience to cryptocurrency exchange platforms eager to sign up customers.

The contest between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals was the culmination of a months-long race between cryptocurrency trading platforms to outdo one another on marketing and win over new customers, as mainstream adoption grows.

Roughly 59.1 million Americans owned some form of cryptocurrency in 2021 – a 61% jump in two years, according to Finder. Also the number of tradeable digital assets has been growing and now numbers in the thousands.

Cryptocurrency exchanges and platforms, or places where users can buy, sell, trade and bet on digital tokens, are looking to attract clients from a swiftly increasing pool of digital asset adopters.

Their chosen formula? Sports and celebrities.

Let the battle begin

The crypto exchanges stepped up their marketing efforts last autumn, after bitcoin peaked and many of its altcoin rivals hit record highs.

In November, cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com caused a stir when it bought naming rights to a Los Angeles sports and entertainment complex for $700m. Crypto.com Arena is home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers basketball teams, the Kings hockey team and the Sparks women’s professional basketball team.

The platform then named a major European football team, Paris Saint Germain, its official partner.

Crypto firms have also looked to attract high-profile celebrity faces: Crypto.com ran a commercial with US actor Matt Damon last fall, while another cryptocurrency platform, FTX, struck a deal with retired National Football League quarterback Tom Brady and his wife, Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen, in November.

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Super Bowl bonanza

Last weekend, however, saw several crypto exchanges go head-to-head in their largest effort to grab the masses – Super Bowl LVI, where 30-second advertisements cost as much as $6.5m in 2022.

Crypto.com's ad featured basketball player LeBron James, while FTX's commercial had comedian Larry David in the starring role.

Coinbase's ad was a bouncing QR code that aired for around a minute, aiming to take users directly to a page where they could sign up for a Coinbase account. The web page crashed under the volume of hits.

The crash went viral. Edward Snowden said on Twitter: “Coinbase spending $16,000,000 on a Superbowl ad to direct people to their website and $0 to make sure that website doesn't crash 10 seconds after the ad starts is so very internet.”

In response to the crash, Coinbase chief product officer Surojit Chatterjee tweeted saying that the exchange had 20 million hits on the landing page in one minute after the ad aired: “That was historic and unprecedented. We also saw engagement that was six times higher than our previous benchmarks,” he wrote.

BTC/USD

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-0.960% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0616%
Short position overnight fee 0.0137%
Overnight fee time 21:00 (UTC)
Spread 106.00

XRP/USD

0.53 Price
-0.550% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0753%
Short position overnight fee 0.0069%
Overnight fee time 21:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.01168

DOGE/USD

0.16 Price
-0.370% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0753%
Short position overnight fee 0.0069%
Overnight fee time 21:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.0012872

UNI/USD

10.59 Price
-4.500% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0753%
Short position overnight fee 0.0069%
Overnight fee time 21:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.08964

Coinbase chief marketing officer Kate Rouch stated: “At Coinbase we have a goal of introducing a billion people to the cryptoeconomy. Crypto is about access for everyone, not old models of winner takes all, stoking fear or ‘FOMO’. We believe the best way to learn about crypto is to actually try it."

Coinbase did not specify how many new customers have signed up for the platform following the commercial.

Digital education

Outside the world of sports and celebrities, market leader Binance, took a different approach and joined forces with Forbes. Last week, Binance made a $200m strategic investment in the business publication as it looks to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Forbes chief executive, Mike Federle, and Binance chief executive, Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao, pitched the deal as one that will contribute to understanding and education about blockchain technologies and all emerging digital assets.

Federle said in a statement: “With Binance’s investment in Forbes, we now have the experience, network and resources of the world’s leading crypto exchange and one of the world’s most successful blockchain innovators. Forbes, already a resource for people interested in the emerging world of digital assets, can become a true leader in the field with their help.”

Zhao added: “As Web 3 and blockchain technologies move forward and the crypto market comes of age we know that media is an essential element to build widespread consumer understanding and education. We look forward to bolstering Forbes’ Digital initiatives, as they evolve into a next level investment insights platform”.

Chart showing cryptocurrency exchanges market share in the US."Coinbase's market share soars as exchanges battle for regulated U.S. market," Kaiko writes. – Credit: Kaiko

Is it paying off?

Has this recent media push borne fruit for the participating crypto exchanges?

“The competition for the vast US cryptocurrency market is heating up as global behemoths like Binance and FTX launch regulated US-based affiliates designed to cater for a more institutional type of trader,” writes Clara Medalie research director at the cryptocurrency market data provider Kaiko.

Kaiko examined the bitcoin-dollar spot market share on major regulated exchanges in the US. The cryptocurrency spot market allows traders to meet on exchanges to buy and sell assets in real time.

Kaiko concluded that “Binance and FTX's regulated US-based affiliates have struggled to gain market share against Coinbase.”

“We can observe Coinbase's market share recently hit an all-time high of nearly 60% in December, before retreating to 51% in January. The spike was due to strong trading activity on Coinbase’s BTC-USD markets during the Omicron sell-off and low-volume holiday season,” Medalie writes.

“Despite investing aggressively in their US expansion over the past months, Binance.US and FTX.US are still relatively small in terms of trade volume. However, FTX.US appears to be gaining a bit of traction, exceeding Binance.US (3%) and Gemini (4%) in just a few months,” she adds.

Another metric, which can serve as a gauge of crypto exchanges' success, is the performance of their native cryptocurrency. Tokens native to centralised cryptocurrency exchanges are the best performing sector among cryptocurrencies in 2022 so far, Kaiko data shows.

For example, when Crypto.com bought the naming rights to Crypto.com Arena, its native token, CRO, surged 70% in a week – which led market watchers to note that the $700m deal paid for itself.

Markets in this article

BCH/BTC
Bitcoin Cash / Bitcoin
0.00709 USD
0.00004 +0.580%
BNB/USD
Binance Coin / USD
601.93 USD
-4.84 -0.810%
BNB/USD
Binance Coin / USD
601.93 USD
-4.84 -0.810%
BNB/USD
Binance Coin / USD
601.93 USD
-4.84 -0.810%

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The difference between trading assets and CFDs
The main difference between CFD trading and trading assets, such as commodities and stocks, is that you don’t own the underlying asset when you trade on a CFD.
You can still benefit if the market moves in your favour, or make a loss if it moves against you. However, with traditional trading you enter a contract to exchange the legal ownership of the individual shares or the commodities for money, and you own this until you sell it again.
CFDs are leveraged products, which means that you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of the CFD trade in order to open a position. But with traditional trading, you buy the assets for the full amount. In the UK, there is no stamp duty on CFD trading, but there is when you buy stocks, for example.
CFDs attract overnight costs to hold the trades (unless you use 1-1 leverage), which makes them more suited to short-term trading opportunities. Stocks and commodities are more normally bought and held for longer. You might also pay a broker commission or fees when buying and selling assets direct and you’d need somewhere to store them safely.
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