Fan tokens explained: what are they and what are they for?

Elisa Campaci

5 min

Fan tokens: what are they and how do they work?

Fan tokens are cryptocurrencies created to bring sports teams or artists closer to their supporters and to offer exclusive benefits

In recent years, fan tokens have catapulted a lot of new users into the crypto world, specifically fans of sports teams or music groups. At the moment, these are mainly used in the fields of sports and music, but they can potentially be exploited by anything that involves interaction between a brand and a fan base. Non-sports tokens are also often referred to as ‘social tokens’. In this article, to explain what they are, how they work and what they are used for, we will use the example of the most popular fan tokens : the football tokens on Socios.

What are fan tokens and how do they work?

Fan tokens are a type of cryptocurrency, so in essence they are cryptographic digital coins built on a blockchain. They grant the holder access to a range of benefits or experiences related to the sports team that issues them. The working mechanism of fan tokens is simple: a fan buys them and the team grants rewards such as merchandise, match tickets, experiences with players, and the ability to vote on certain team decisions. Fan tokens were created precisely with the intention of improving and enlivening the relationship between fans and their favourite teams.

So, are they cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin? Technically speaking, fan tokens are created on existing blockchains and use standards developed by third parties. For example if they are based on Ethereum, the standard of reference is ERC-20. In contrast, Bitcoin runs on its own native blockchain. This is precisely why they are ‘tokens’ and not ‘coins’ as in the case of Bitcoin. However, fan tokens share the characteristic of fungibility with Bitcoin. In other words, they are not unique to each other but are interchangeable (so to speak ‘one is as good as the other’). In turn, fungibility differentiates them from NFTs, which are actually an abbreviation of ‘non-fungible tokens’. Fan tokens are therefore not used for collecting.

Are fan tokens utility tokens?

Tokens in the crypto sector are generally classified into utility and security tokens. Utility tokens have a specific utility within the ecosystem that issued them. For example, UNI is the utility token of the Uniswap decentralised exchange, which is used to participate in project governance. On the other hand, security tokens promise a future profit to their holder. In what category do fan tokens fit?

According to the Chiliz team, which actually launched the first tokens of this kind on the Socios platform, they are neither utility tokens nor security tokens. Fan tokens constitute a ‘third’ and new token with specific characteristics, which emerged from the need to unite fans and teams with Web3 tools.

Where can you buy them?

Fan tokens can be bought from platforms that issue them, such as Socios on the Chiliz blockchain. To buy fan tokens on Socios you need to sign up and buy $CHZ. In exchange for this crypto, you then can get your team’s fan tokens. Fan tokens are bought like any other cryptocurrency. Once the purchase is complete, you will find the fan tokens directly in your wallet. In some cases, fan tokens are listed in crypto exchanges.

What can you do with fan tokens?

Fan tokens were created to increase the participation of fans in the events of their team. With them, football clubs can offer direct involvement, making the relationship with fans reciprocal.

Why is this needed to bring fans closer together? As Alexandre Dreyfus, CEO of Chiliz and Socios says, 99.9 percent of fans don’t even go to the stadium. Teams therefore need channels to interact with the entire fan base, not just those who can physically go to the games.

What are fan tokens actually used for? Let’s look at a few examples. Holders can choose how to decorate the team’s dressing room with motivational phrases, or the motto on the captain’s armband (as in the case of F.C. Barcelona). Or, decide the song with which to celebrate anniversaries or the design of the kits (in the case of Inter). Napoli fans these days are voting on the new name for the team’s training ground.

As the owners of the Udinese fan token prepare to redeem their Christmas dinner.

Fan tokens are mainly bought by fans. On the other hand, like all other cryptocurrencies, they can be used by traders for buying and selling transactions. The market for fan tokens has proven to be very much linked to the performance of matches as was evident in the case of the 2022 World Cup and national team fan tokens.

Now that you know what fan tokens are, how they work and what they are used for, you may be wondering what their true value is within the crypto landscape, but also within the sports landscape. Their relevance depends on the importance given to fan tokens. If a team sees its fans only as people who go to games, fan tokens do not seem so interesting. When, on the other hand, fans are the lifeblood of the entire football club, fan tokens are a tool for building relationships and sharing sporting enthusiasm.

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