'The World Is Watching': How Visa Brought NFTs to the 2022 FIFA World Cup – TheStreet
It partnered with Crypto.com to deliver user-generated digital collectibles at the sporting event.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is the first World Cup featuring non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with payments giant Visa partnering with Crypto.com to bring user-generated digital collectibles to the popular sporting event. From now until December 18, global soccer fans visiting the FIFA Fan Festival will be able to see Visa’s “Masters of Movement” experience, where they can jump on top of an LED soccer pitch and draw their own NFT designs with their feet. The resulting design will be emailed to them as a digital souvenir.
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On the LED floor, fans don a tracking vest and play with an Adidas tracking ball relying on motion-sensor technology created by Kinexon. An artwork algorithm logs the gestures and movements of fans dynamically moving on the field, creating original NFT artwork designed by the U.K. experimental art firm XK Studio. Fans can even have their NFTs minted by Crypto.com if they simply scan a QR code in Qatar.
“We want to create these lasting experiences for fans that are on site [in Qatar],” Andrea Fairchild, Senior Vice President of Global Sponsorship Strategy at Visa, told TheStreet Crypto. “We want to uplift the local communities and then really spark an impact in the global sport community,”
Fairchild said Visa and Crypto.com’s collaboration was a “a mutual partnership” born out of Crypto.com’s pre-existing relationship with FIFA. The crypto exchange is a major sponsor of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“It really gives us an opportunity during the World Cup to celebrate the love of the game, the technology and the art of movement,” Fairchild added. ”It’s the first time we’ve been able to bring together all these elements in one place.”
Fairchild said that the company spent more than a year developing the proposal for the fan experience. “The concept of the idea grew based on where we are in culture,” she said, pointing out that NFTs had exploded in popularity over the past year, and Visa knew it wanted to showcase the strengths of NFTs while also celebrating artists latching onto the technology. In particular, Visa wanted to help users mint NFTs in a safe environment, converting iconic moves on the field into “dynamic works of art.”
“As a sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, Visa enables the movement of money across the world fluidly and seamlessly, which we then mapped back to the love of the game of global football and how the players move on the pitch,” she said. “NFTs gave us the ability to articulate that in a unique way.”
But Visa has been experimenting with jumping aboard the NFT craze long before the World Cup. Last summer, Visa spent $150,000 on a CryptoPunk NFT, calling the digital memorabilia a “cultural icon.”
“We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce,” Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, said at the time. Earlier this year, the company also unveiled a year-long NFT creator program to support a global group of artists, musicians, fashion designers and filmmakers.
“We’ve seen rapid growth in the NFT ecosystem over the past year,” Sheffield said, calling it a new form of e-commerce. “The thing that’s so exciting to us about NFTs is we think it lowers the barrier to entry for people to build a business and sell online.”
In October, Visa also filed two metaverse trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, and said that the company was looking to manage crypto wallets, NFTs and digital currency transactions. In particular, Visa plans to provide software for auditing crypto and managing virtual transactions.
Last year, Visa also announced a much sought after plan for a "universal adapter" for central bank digital currencies around the world. The project will allow merchants, blockchain systems and customers to carry out transactions seamlessly across multiple networks and different digital wallets.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is noteworthy for prominent crypto sponsorships, but also a return to in-person sporting events and fan experiences. “The world is watching,” Fairchild told TheStreet Crypto. “They're all coming together for the World Cup in Qatar; it's one of the greatest sporting events in the world. So it gives us the ability to tell the story that we want to tell and immerse consumers in an experience that is timely, culturally relevant, and hopefully is helping them become more educated in areas [like crypto and NFTs] that we feel are important.”
“We're always trying to anticipate the next move, and we are at the forefront of developing new digital payment solutions for people across the economy and making it feel like a safe environment,” she said. “We’re testing some of these emerging technologies that are only going to enhance the fan experience.”
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is the first World Cup featuring non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with payments giant Visa partnering with Crypto.com to bring user-generated digital collectibles to the popular sporting event. From now until December 18, global soccer fans visiting the FIFA Fan Festival will be able to see Visa’s “Masters of Movement” experience, where they can jump on top of an LED soccer pitch and draw their own NFT designs with their feet. The resulting design will be emailed to them as a digital souvenir. Subscribe for full article
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Sabrina Toppa is an award-winning journalist focusing on cryptocurrency, blockchain, DeFi, NFTs, and Web3. She has written for The Guardian, TIME Magazine, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @SabrinaToppa. For story tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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