Premier League football bosses will soon be paying for the best players in bitcoins, it was claimed on Monday night, after seven top-flight clubs launched cryptocurrency trials.
Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Southampton, Cardiff City, Brighton and Crystal Palace have agreed to set up digital wallets with an online trading platform which says it is in "no doubt" the currency will eventually replace sterling in the multi-billion pound transfer industry.
The bitcoin system will also help clubs tackle ticket touting and counterfeit merchandising, according to online trading firm eToro, which has paid clubs to take part.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, which have no physical form and exist only as strings of computer code, were launched with the goal of becoming decentralised currencies. Iqbal Gandham, UK managing director at eToro, told the Daily Telegraph the use of bitcoin in the multi-billion pound transfer market would improve "transparency".
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He said the seven clubs involved in the trial have all been paid to receive bitcoin in a bid to spark interest. "We've done a sponsorship deal, but rather than pay them in traditional pound notes we've paid them in bitcoin.... What they choose to do with that is entirely up to them."
Fran Jones, head of partnerships at Tottenham, said the partnership was launched because the club is "committed to technology and innovation". Paul Barber, chief executive at Brighton, said the project will "help us better understand the true potential offered by blockchain”.
Millions of investors bought bitcoin in recent years, prompting prices to soar. Financiers say that they are now more akin to commodities than currencies.