OKX Overcomes FTX-Related Concerns Around Crypto Industry in $70M Expansion of Man City Sponsorship

Manchester City and OKX's other partners have been auditing the exchange's proof of reserves to make sure it won't go the same way as FTX.

AccessTimeIconJun 30, 2023 at 1:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Jun 30, 2023 at 6:41 p.m. UTC

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.

Edited by Nelson Wang.


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Jamie Crawley

Jamie Crawley is a CoinDesk news reporter based in London.