Although Bitcoin has faced several high profile public relations challenges this year, Bitcoin, a decentralized, peer-to-peer virtual currency which can be exchanged for traditional currencies such as the U.S. dollar, or used to purchase goods or services online, has set out to emerge from the shadows of the cryptocurrency market into the mainstream of one of America’s most popular college sports with sponsorship of the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl later this month.
Bitcoin backers are hoping to score a big public relations and marketing win with its sponsorship one of college football’s marquee matchups. BitPay, a leading business solutions company for the Bitcoin digital currency, is the new title sponsor for the annual college football postseason game that will be played in St. Petersburg, Florida for three years through the 2016 game. Bitcoin currency users will have the opportunity to purchase tickets with Bitcoin to see how the digital currency works.
Over the past year, Bitcoin, has seen its reputation tarnished by the high profile failure and subsequent bankruptcy of Mt. Gox, a Bitcoin exchange in Japan, the alleged use of Bitcoin in a Ponzi scheme that attracted the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the unwanted attention of the FBI and U.S. Treasury Department, amid concerns of potential money laundering and the virtual currency’s potential as a conduit for illegal online activities.
Despite these well-publicized setbacks, Bitcoin advocates tout its potential as an efficient, secure and affordable alternative to traditional cash or card transactions and expect the event sponsorship will be a very positive showcase for the alternative currency.
Although some financial institutions have been resistant to Bitcoin, well-known merchants like Overstock, Expedia, Dell and others have begun accepting Bitcoin and the future looks bright for the virtual currency. PayPal, one of the most popular payment processing companies globally, recently announced it is working closely with a number of prominent Bitcoin payment processing companies to make it easier to transact business online.
The buzz over Bitcoin is also giving birth to enterprising servicing and transaction processing companies that have staked their future on the alternative currency, and investing in creative ways to burnish the image of Bitcoin and highlight its potential as a mainstream method of payment.
Atlanta-based BitPay is hoping its bowl game sponsorship will further promote interest in the digital currency and increase awareness across the country with its prime-time TV slot. The bowl game will be an exciting opportunity to enable fans to use Bitcoin in a fun, collegiate sports environment. With nearly 35,000 merchants on its platform, including Newegg, TigerDirect, Zynga, ESPN, Virgin Galactic and the Sacramento Kings, BitPay has led the Bitcoin economy by allowing businesses around the world to easily accept Bitcoin.
As tens of thousands of football fans make their way into the Tampa-St. Pete area over the next couple of weeks in anticipation of the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, BitPay executives expect the attention brought to Bitcoin by the sponsorship of the college bowl game will engage their target demographic around the Bitcoin ecosystem, enhance Bitcoin’s reputation and relevancy and further boost Bitcoin’s ascension into the mainstream.
The 2014 game will feature the University of Central Florida from the American Athletic Conference and NC State from the Atlantic Coast Conference and will be played on Friday, December 26, at 8 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and air on ESPN.