Cryptocurrency exchange OKX has expanded its sponsorship deal with English and European soccer champions Manchester City, undeterred by negative associations of the crypto industry following the events of last year.
The OKX logo will be displayed on the sleeves of Man City's on-field shirts from next season in addition to its existing berth on the players' training kit, the exchange announced via email on Friday.
OKX will pay the club $70 million over the course of the deal, which will last three years, OKX said.
Sponsorship of elite sports organizations by crypto firms became commonplace in 2021 and 2022, with the likes of FTX and Crypto.com putting their names on stadia and arenas as well as getting their brands visible on players or officials' uniforms.
However, the collapse of FTX in November last year has made clubs think twice before aligning themselves with crypto firms.
"Our partners definitely wanted to know if we would be in a similar situation to FTX," Haider Rafique, OKX's chief marketing officer, told CoinDesk in an interview. "Rather than answering those questions on an individual basis, we introduced them to our proof of reserves."
Proof of reserves are a cryptographic way of demonstrating that a crypto exchange is liquid enough to process all customer withdrawals, thereby reassuring its customers that their funds are secure.
Rafique said that partners such as Man City and Formula 1 team McLaren have been auditing OKX's proof of reserves, with board members even emailing the exchange with questions and queries.
"They were being very critical of us, so passing their litmus test is a real validation for us," Rafique said.
UPDATE (June 30, 15:08 UTC): Adds duration and cost of the deal and amends headline.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.