Aussie Baseball Team Perth Heat to Start Paying Players and Staff in Bitcoin

Perth Heat, a popular team in the Australian Baseball League (ABL), publicly entered the crypto markets after announcing on November 17 that it will pay players and staff in Bitcoin.

Heat revealed that it has partnered with the crypto payment firm OpenNode to accept and send Bitcoin payments powered by the Lightning Network.

Perth Heat CEO Steven Nelkowski commented about the development and stated: “This is the first time a sports club has decided to go all in on a bitcoin standard. We know the community views Heat as a model of success and hope that the adoption of the bitcoin standard will inspire others to adopt a monetary system that creates value demands.”

While Heat players and staff will be able to get paid in Bitcoin beginning this Friday, the club also plans to accept the cryptocurrency payments for ballpark concessions, merchandise, and sponsorships on game days.

Nelkovski disclosed that the Bitcoin payments were not mandatory, stating that all players and organizational staff have fully embraced the opportunity to be paid in the crypto and were informed how the scheme works.

He said that in case a player wants to opt-out of the crypto payment plan, they can still be paid in the traditional method, with their salary transferred to Australian dollars and sent to their bank accounts as with any other direct debit process. He mentioned that there is also the option to be paid partially in Bitcoin and traditional dollars.

“We are giving the players the freedom to decide what is best for their unique situation. The entire process is very similar to the traditional payments process with one added variable which is how much of their salary they would like to keep in bitcoin,” Nelkovski said.

Nelkovski said the deal did not need to be approved by Baseball Australia – the game’s national governing body – which has been supportive of the move.

The club has created a new position of Chief Bitcoin Officer, filled by Patrick O’Sullivan to facilitate the new operation and the transfer of “the corporate treasury” from dollars to cryptocurrency.

O’Sullivan also talked about the development and said: “This is not a one-off purchase to hedge against future uncertainties or inflationary pressures. The Perth Heat are embracing the reality that the future of money and corporate treasuries will live on the bitcoin blockchain.”

Heat is one of Australian baseball’s most successful clubs and has won four ABL championships since the league’s formation in 2010.

The 2021-22 ABL season, which was initially scheduled to begin this week, was last month cancelled for the second straight year because of the COVID-19 restrictions in Australia.

Sports Industry Has Big Plans for Crypto

Perth Heat has joined other professional sports clubs to fully embrace cryptocurrency for payment acceptance and payroll for staff and players.

The sports industry is one of the more flexible industries that are not too scared to try out something new. It did not throw itself into cryptocurrency but opened its doors to an alternative payment method.

Several US sport club owners have started paying their members in cryptocurrency. Many sports stars are known to have decided to exchange a portion or all of their salary to Bitcoin, but such payments were initiated by the players themselves, rather than the top managers.

As reported by Blockchain.News, European football giant Benfica started accepting Bitcoin and Ethereum payments in 2019. The announcement consequently allowed fans of the Portuguese Premiere Liga champions to pay for match tickets and club merchandise using cryptocurrency.

In March this year, the Dallas Mavericks – an NBA team – started accepting Dogecoin cryptocurrency as payment for tickets and merchandise.

These days, some of the world’s largest sports clubs, like FC Barcelona and Juventus have their own tokens, meant to be distributed and used by their fans. The fans can use the tokens for buying merchandise, winning rewards such as VIP seats, voting on some upcoming club-related decisions, and many more.

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Top Australian Baseball Club To Pay Players In Bitcoin

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are increasingly making appearances in the world of sports. The latest team to enter the cryptocurrency world is Australian Baseball League club Perth Heat. On Wednesday, the club announced that it integrated crypto payments into its operations. The Heat said they had partnered with OpenNode to accept and send Bitcoin payments powered by the Lightning Network.

Related Reading | Venezuelan Airport To Accept Payment In Bitcoin

The Baseball club is one of Australia’s most successful teams, having won four ABL championships since the league’s formation in 2010. It claims it is the first professional sports club in the world to fully embrace the digital currency.

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Perth Heat Integrates Bitcoin Payment

The baseball club has rebranded itself to be called “the Bitcoin baseball team.” 

As part of the partnership with OpenNode, Perth Heat is setting Bitcoin as the new standard for payments and payouts. Players and staff will get their pay in Bitcoin, although it is not mandatory. Players can still be paid in traditional fiat or partially in Bitcoin. However, the club’s CEO, Steven Nelkovski, said that all current employees of the club were on board with the scheme.

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“By embracing the underlying values of the Bitcoin protocol, we believe that the organization can reach new levels of success both on and off the field and remind the world of the true value of sports. We know the community looks to the Perth Heat as a model of success and we hope our adoption of a Bitcoin Standard will inspire others to embrace a monetary system that demands value creation to thrive,” said Nelkovski.

As part of its Bitcoin adoption efforts, the club also plans to “Hodl Bitcoin on the club’s balance sheet.”

Patrick O’Sullivan, Perth Heat’s new Chief Bitcoin Officer, shed more light on the club’s latest strategic move. He said it is a way of securing its digital property rights on the world’s most secure monetary network.

“We believe the world has begun to recognize the power of sound money principles and are determined to lead from the front. This is not a one-off purchase to hedge against future uncertainties or inflationary pressures. The Perth Heat are embracing the reality that the future of money and corporate treasuries will live on the Bitcoin blockchain.”

The club will also accept Bitcoin payments for sponsorships, merchandise, and ballpark concessions on game days.

Crypto Regulation In Australia

Australia has made big crypto moves this year. It has one of the highest crypto adoption rates in the world. This could be due to the country’s aim to become crypto-friendly. In line with this, regulators are making laws to regulate cryptocurrencies in different sectors.

Last month, Australian senators wrote a report pushing for an overhaul of finance and tax regulations to make the country a global crypto hub.

Related Reading | Crypto Is Set To Dominate Australian Financial Industry In Less Than 10 Years

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) also recently gave the green light to a range of cryptocurrency-related ETFs. This approval could see Bitcoin and Ethereum-backed investment funds trading on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) soon.

Additionally, Commonwealth Bank announced its partnership with US-based crypto exchange Gemini and blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. It will become the first major Australian bank to offer crypto services to its customers, which it plans to launch in 2022.

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