Further, Montoya said the token, called Kings Token, will pair with a predictive gaming platform the team has developed in anticipation of the legalization of sports betting in California (the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal restriction on sports betting in May 2018).

The NBA’s Sacramento Kings are the first U.S. professional sports team to develop a crypto token for fan rewards.

“Fans can get those points and put them in their wallets and experience it all on the blockchain platform”, Kings CTO Ryan Montoya told CoinDesk.

The Kings Token is a joint effort with blockchain-based event ticketing platform Blockparty.

“In our opinion, the blockchain has a role in the entire event experience”, Vladislav Ginzburg, Blockparty’s chief development officer, told CoinDesk. “Whether it’s a sports game, music festival or Broadway show.”

Blockparty is putting together a case study on the project, CEO Shiv Madan added, in the hope that it will be shared with other NBA teams if the project is deemed a success.

All-tech team

It’s just the latest foray into blockchain technology for the Sacramento team, which is based 90 miles northeast of San Francisco.

In 2014, the Kings became the first NBA team to accept bitcoin as payment in its arena. Last year, the Kings became the first professional sports team to mine cryptocurrency, setting up a program called MiningForGood that donates the funds to charity.

Kings Tokens will exist within a token wallet added to the team’s Golden 1 Center app, which tracks the engagement and accumulated points of fans. Fans can earn rewards through the predictive gaming platform and redeem those points for access to unique events, signed merchandise or courtside tickets, for example.

The ERC-20 token will run on ethereum but will only initially be usable within the team’s Golden 1 Center arena. While fans won’t be able to trade the token for another currency or have a private key, they will be able to show a QR code to redeem points and see the confirmation of transactions through a block explorer. In testnet now, the Kings plans to launch the token by opening night on Oct. 25.

In future iterations, token users may be able to transfer tokens to their peers, and earn rewards by eating at nearby restaurants or making it to the game before tip-off, Ginzburg added.

“This is a mass adoption story”, Ginzburg said, adding:

“Forty-one games of 20,000 people – I’m going to go ahead and say that many of those people don’t own any crypto whatsoever. Suddenly by downloading the Golden 1 Center app, they are going to have an ERC-20 wallet with an ERC-20 token.”

NEAR Protocol Launches Following $21M Token Sale Led by Andreessen Horowitz

NEAR, a blockchain project for running decentralized applications (dapps), announced Monday the closing of a $21.6 million token sale led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). It also revealed the stealth-mode launch of the NEAR mainnet on April 22.

The terms of the deal were defined by a16z and joined by some 40 other investment firms including Pantera Capital, Libertus, Blockchange, Animal Ventures, Distributed Global and Notation Capital, according to NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin. The token sale is the network’s second following a $12.1 million round last July.

NEAR Foundation CEO Erik Trautman said the protocol – a sharded, Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain – operates in a similar design space as the forthcoming Ethereum 2.0 and the existing Cosmos network.

A databasing method, sharding breaks blockchain storage for PoS chains onto multiple “shards” or servers separated from one another. The main benefit of sharding lies in how blockchains communicate with one another: If every node has to settle every transaction, the blockchain will be slow; if transactions are broken into groupings of shards, transactions can be processed more quickly.

That doesn’t mean scalability is NEAR’s first focus, said Aliaksandr Hudzilin, NEAR’s head of business development. “It’s so early. Nobody needs scalability”, Hudzilin said.

He said the team’s initial focus is creating a developer community around its blockchain through programs with projects such as Flux Markets, Stardust and TessaB.

In that vein, NEAR says it’s moving forward slowly and deliberately given the implications of code flaws in a blockchain intended for financial applications. The network will operate under a Proof-of-Authority (PoA) consensus algorithm administered by the NEAR Foundation and the 40 or so validators who purchased tokens from the foundation.

The foundation will oversee token address creation and transactions until Phase 2 kicks in with fewer restrictions later this summer, according to a NEAR blog post. Phase 2 and Phase 3 will transition the blockchain to a PoS system and community governance following general testing.

“It’s actually kind of the only way to do it”, Trautman said. “Our goal is to hand off as quickly as possible from this PoA run to the Foundation not touching it.”

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