Manny Pacquiao launches merchandise-backed cryptocurrency
On Sunday, champion boxer Manny Pacquiao announced the launch of his own cryptocurrency before a crowd of fans in Manila. The currency — dubbed the “pac” — is less of a currency than a kind of fan marketplace, giving fans a chance to buy merchandise and interact with Pacquiao in a manner similar to the Jeremy Renner app and similar fanbase projects. But while the value of the Pac is backed by demand from Pacquiao’s sizable fan base, the Pac behaves like a normal cryptocurrency, providing a digitally tradeable token with a floating value secured by a decentralized ledger.
Pacquiao is launching the venture with help from the GCOX Group, a company in southeast Asia that has developed a new model for celebrity tokens. “GCOX revolutionizes the way celebrities interact with their fans, giving the public unparalleled access to celebrities,” the company says on its website. “This platform also allows celebrities, at the different stages of their celebrity life cycle, to develop, monetize and revitalize their popularity through the various mediums that are housed on the ACCLAIM blockchain.”
Pacquiao will be the first major test of that model, although Jason Derulo and English soccer star Michael Owen are reportedly also planning launches with GCOX.
A number of other athletes and celebrities have attempted cryptocurrency ventures, often to disastrous results. Steven Seagal was brought on as official brand ambassador for Bitcoiin [sic], which was targeted in 2018 with a cease-and-desist order from securities regulators in New Jersey. Floyd Mayweather Jr. — a longtime rival of Pacquiao — was an early proponent of CentraCoin, a debit-connected cryptocurrency project, which ultimately resulted in SEC action and fraud charges against the founders. Still, Pacquiao’s scheme is the first that would use a celebrities fan base to directly prop up the value of the currency, potentially a more viable approach.