The San Jose Sharks will become the first National Hockey League team to accept cryptocurrency next season — but it’s not an elaborate play to gain value from the assets. Instead, Sharks President Jonathan Becher told Yahoo Finance this week that he believes blockchain technology will make ticket exchanges more secure.
“It’s good for consumers because it reduces fraud,” Becher told Yahoo Finance Live. “Crypto is nearly impossible to counterfeit … and fraudulent tickets and merchandise is a big issue in sports and entertainment.”
A handful of other professional sports franchises, including Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks, also accept cryptocurrency. Companies such as Starbucks (SBUX) and Whole Foods (AMZN) welcome cryptocurrency payments too, while others like Tesla (TSLA) have decided not to accept Bitcoin because of concerns over the cryptocurrency’s energy consumption.
San Jose will accept the meme coin Dogecoin (DOGE) among other cryptocurrencies starting in the 2021-22 season. It’s a low-risk game for the Sharks, which Becher said will convert the cryptocurrency into standard dollars within roughly 15 minutes of the transaction.
Like many in the blockchain space, Becher and the Sharks believe interest and application of blockchain technology will spike. For now, the Sharks will experiment with blockchain via non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and accepting cryptocurrency payments for non-profit contributions, season tickets, and luxury suite leases.
The franchise — which is accepting cryptos such as Bitcoin (BTC-USD), Ethereum (ETH-USD) and Dogecoin (DOGE-USD) as well as five stable coins — plans to eventually allow fans to buy single game tickets with cryptocurrency.
“Part of what we're doing is experimenting with the underlying blockchain to see different applications that can be built in the long term,” Becher said.
Some analysts argue against using cryptocurrency as actual currency because of its volatility. In the month of May alone, bitcoin’s price dropped 35%. But that doesn’t mean that Sharks season tickets will be selling for pennies on the bitcoin.
BitPay will quickly convert the payments to U.S. dollars for the Sharks, limiting the franchise’s exposure to volatility. Fans, however, could see the cryptocurrency they buy tickets with increase in value after their purchase. That’s why many analysts argue cryptocurrency, specifically, Bitcoin, isn't worth exchanging for a product. Bitcoin bulls also often explain that the point of the currency is in stored value, not as a direct currency for exchange.
For their part, the Sharks say they’re just giving fans the option to use cryptocurrency if they want to do so.
“Crypto is there for consumer choice,” Becher said. “We aren’t, obviously, forcing people to use crypto, but we've always given people options.”
Josh Schafer is a producer for Yahoo Finance.