How Blockchain Is Igniting a New Era In Sports Fandom: Insights From Tenamint CEO Nadir Chaudhry

30 May 2024

Sports technology is increasingly undergoing a profound transformation, especially in the way fans experience the game. In the last few years, innovative technologies that enable sports fans to engage with their favorite sports, teams, and athletes, have emerged, promising a future where they are more connected than ever before.

Blockchain technology and Web3 are at the forefront of this radical change, with the introduction of digital collectibles, play-and-earn gaming experiences, and new-age formats geared towards fan engagement.

According to a recent report by Grand View Research, the global market for digital collectibles would reach a staggering $80 billion by 2028, highlighting the growing influence of blockchain technology in sports and gaming. In this interview, TENAMINT CEO Nadir Chaudhry provides valuable insights into the dynamics of sports technology, fantasy sports, and the forces behind the digital transformation that is taking place.

Let’s start with you, Nadir. Can you tell us about yourself and your journey to web3?

My journey to web3 began in 2010 when I started learning about Bitcoin . It was a journey down the rabbit hole and it was from this point that I took a dive into the world of crypto trading in 2016. As blockchain began to have more practical use cases, its intersection with sports became an eye-opener for me. I realized this was going to be a revolution I had to be part of.

During the pandemic, I sold one of my previous ventures and began working on a project to transform fan engagement through decentralization and digital ownership. Leveraging my background in TradFi and tech and my passion for sports, I founded TENAMINT, to usher in a new era of sports fandom, especially with social fantasy sports gaming and Web3 elements like digital collectibles and tokenized rewards.

VC funding for sports tech and web3 gaming projects is still growing . Why do you think investors are interested in these projects?

It is not surprising to see investors eyeing these projects because they hold a lot of potential for transforming sports and gaming industries. So, naturally you would expect such strong fundamentals as transparency, ownership, rewards and digital scarcity to change the status quo, thereby making traditional models obsolete.

Moreover, recent market analyses show significant year-over-year growth in these emerging fields, with their promises reinforcing my passion to make a profound change.  The intersection between blockchain and sports tech is going to unlock new revenue opportunities not only for businesses but also for sports fans who can leverage their sports insights and predictive prowess.

Do you consider blockchain a major disruptor to sports technology?

Blockchain is not only disrupting sports tech but it is also igniting a renaissance in fan engagement as a participatory and rewarding experience. Some of the key areas where this revolution is taking place include tokenized ticketing, dynamic pricing for new revenue streams, and athlete contracts as liquid markets.

There is an increasing number of sports organizations that are now looking to build fans’ loyalty through NFTs and DAO-based governance, which allows their fans to participate in the decision making process. This future is not only going to be decentralized but would also evolve into an economy of global fan participation where ownership, rewards, and collective influence are fully entrenched.

How has it revolutionized or disrupted the sports industry?

There is always a tendency to talk about blockchain as a tool for mass participation. In sports, blockchain has emerged as a viable tool for democratized ownership of precious sports moments and memorabilia via NFTs, converting them into tradable and accessible assets any sports  fan can own.

We saw this happen with the NBA Top Shot sold as NFTs two years ago, showcasing the appetite for owning iconic NFT moments.

I personally consider NFT collecting  in sports as the beginning of something much more profound and the starting point for us is to build digital fan communities of active participants by integrating NFTs into gaming and other reward-based ecosystems.

Simply spectating will likely become obsolete, considering more than half of today's Gen-Z sports fans consume games with more than one device at a time. So, rewarding fans for their strategic prowess and building communities bonded by shared passions and collections is obvious. I strongly believe that this revolution offers great investment opportunities for sports organizations to foster decentralized fan bases built on ownership, governance, and rewards.

The journey from traditional sports memorabilia to digital collectibles is inevitable. What do you make of this digital transformation?

Firstly, I would like to say that collecting physical trading cards has been a hobby of mine since I was a kid, and I still very much enjoy collecting my favorite players. The inevitable shift to digital collectibles promises to keep the memories of sports moments alive while reinventing how fans engage with their favorite sports and athletes. Most importantly, it will empower them to forge new connections with iconic sports collectibles and heroes by leveraging such cutting-edge technology as blockchain.

The fundamental force driving this transformation is what is often described as digital scarcity. This apparently underscores its essence and helps us to at least either make sense of it or understand its underlying technology. Without digital scarcity, these digital collectibles would offer little or no value at all. Their value being primarily derived from their preciousness and scarcity honor the sentimental essence of fandom while offering new ways for fans to engage with their favorite sports and athletes.

Let’s talk about TENAMINT. What can you tell us about its founding?

Like millions of sports fans across the world, I have a deep-rooted passion for sports, my favorite teams and players. I understand that fans are craving ways to feel deeply invested beyond just watching games. That void hit me the hardest when my beloved Raptors won the 2019 NBA title. I was overwhelmed with excitement but that moment soon faded into a sweet, fuzzy memory without any means of extending or preserving it.

However, it birthed an epiphany that blockchain could completely transform fandom and create an immersive, rewarding digital experience transcending passive viewing. And so TENAMINT was born, fusing social fantasy gaming with tokenized incentives to bring fans into an enriching Web3 sports multiverse. We are inspired to redefine sports fandom by turning passive viewers into active participants through interactive, real-time fantasy games and digital rewards.

Can you take us through the intersection between fantasy sports and the token economy?

Tokenization will create a new market for fantasy sports by transforming fan engagement into a fun and rewarding experience. This is what we aim to achieve with our built-in mini-app and our GameFi and SocialFi features on Telegram, which enables fans to engage in real-time gaming and earn rewards for their participation.

This boils down to the intersection between sports fantasy and tokenization fueled by the emergence of blockchain. It is a novel approach that rewards fans directly from their sports insights and predictive skills.

How do digital collectibles introduce a new dimension to the world of fantasy sports?

One of the characteristics of a groundbreaking technology is the ability to bring about a large-scale transformation that benefits humanity. In fantasy sports, for example, blockchain can be described as a game-changer because it allows fans to experience transparent, authentic ownership in the digital economies around their favourite sports, leagues, teams and players.

In other words, blockchain has made it possible for fans to own rare digital assets that not only offer sentimental value but also provide unique in-game advantages and utilities. This highlights the possibility that owning a rare digital collectible of a star player might give fans extra points in their fantasy league. This altogether deepens investment in the fantasy sports experience and makes it more immersive and fun.

What are the potential regulatory challenges that need to be addressed?

Navigating the regulatory landscape is a crucial step for any web3 business as we gradually emerge from the wild west world of cryptocurrency. First, there need to be a clear regulation in place to enable companies to play by the rules. It appears to be an ever-evolving situation that we have a fiduciary duty to be cognizant of.

We are committed to ensuring that our platform operates within all applicable laws and regulations. We work closely with our legal advisors to ensure compliance and to stay ahead of any regulatory changes. Fostering innovation and growth within the sports technology space is the mission, and one of our key objectives is to ensure that we create an ecosystem that is transparent, secure and trustworthy. We aim to build a platform that is both cutting-edge and compliant.

#Can you share your experience as CEO of TENAMINT ?

Running TENAMINT as co-founder and CEO has been a thrilling journey of growth and resilience. Under my leadership, we have achieved important milestones, like launching a dope fantasy sports Telegram mini-app and forging soon-to-be-announced partnerships with major sports leagues.

I’m especially proud of our amazing team that has been instrumental in executing on our vision. In all honesty, it has not been an easy journey for us. We have had our own fair share of the challenges that come with the bear market. It took a toll on us, but we have managed to remain resilient, focused and nimble, successfully pivoting from tokenizing sports collectibles to emphasizing their utility within games and building a highly engaged community of sports fans and enthusiasts.

Any parting words?

We have only touched the tip of the iceberg of the beautiful synergies between web3 and sports. I strongly believe that sports fandom can be a potential catalyst for mass adoption. As you are well aware, sports transcends borders, languages, and religion. For us disruption is our mantra—we don't just anticipate big changes; we drive them.

We aspire to create a world where fans can compete in fun, social games and own digital collectibles that can enhance their game experience and rewards, which are much better than fleeting memories that offer only sentimental value. This is mindset that inspired us to create a 360-degree platform for fans, athletes, teams, and leagues to come together. It is only the beginning of what we are building to elevate fandom and make every experience matter in the world of sports.