- Filipino boxer and politician Manny Pacquiao on Sunday launched what Reuters is calling the world's first celebrity cryptocurrency. "Pac" tokens, which are listed on Singapore's Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX), will let fans buy exclusive merchandise, interactive social media sessions, pay-per-view streaming and access to meet-and-greets. An auction feature will also let fans sell appropriate items in exchange for the personalized tokens.
- GCOX has signed other celebrities, including Danish tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki and singer Jason Derulo, to launch similar tokens. Buyers of a celebrity's token must first purchase GCOX's coin, known as Acclaim, according to News BTC. The platform may also serve as a popularity index of the celebrities involved.
- The platform's founders said they hope pop-culture involvement in cryptocurrency will push more people to embrace the token economy. "We are not here to raise a lot of money but to build an ecosystem," GCOX founder and CEO Jeffrey Lin told Reuters.
Pacquiao is certainly not the first celebrity to tie himself to a cryptocurrency. While a celebrity's enthusiasm for digital coin platforms can draw public attention, advisers are careful to draw the distinction between celebrities who invest — and can potentially lose value — and those who endorse and get paid in any case. Rapper Snoop Dogg, in an example of the former, performed last year at a Ripple "XRP Community Night."
Tennis icon Serena Williams revealed on Instagram in April that she'd silently invested in more than 30 companies, including the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, through her investment business, Serena Ventures, according to CoinTelegraph.
"Celebrity investments certainly bring hype and make the startup in question more appealing in the eyes of the general public and retail investors," said Artem Popov, co-founder of the blockchain-based investment service Roobee. However, "in the case of Serena Williams, we're not talking about her directly supporting blockchain or Coinbase."
Actor Ashton Kutcher is seen as another early adopter among celebs in the crypto space. His company participated in a $12 million funding round for blockchain cybersecurity company BitGo in June 2014.
Celebrities' involvement with crypto can also attract regulators' attention. The Securities and Exchange Committee announced in November it settled charges that boxer Floyd Mayweather and musician DJ Khaled failed to disclose payments they received for promoting Centra, which was advertised as a debit card meant to convert crypto into fiat currencies.
Rapper 50 Cent last year claimed he "forgot" making his 2014 album available for purchase with bitcoin — a windfall that in today's money would net him $7.5 million — but the artist quickly backtracked during bankruptcy proceedings, saying he owned no bitcoins.
"In order to become the next step in our financial system, cryptocurrencies must prove their feasibility to the general public," Diego Mourad, CEO of S4FE, a stolen-item database, told CoinTelegraph. “Celebrities or not, this will be the one factor that will rule over the rise or decline of this new technology.
"Celebrities can help this become a reality, but the technology must prove it is worthy of becoming the next phase in our evolution," he said.