By Ethan Wolff-Mann
The face of bitcoin has a new face. And that face has a very famous face tattoo.
On Monday in Las Vegas, Bitcoin Direct named Mike Tyson as the spokesperson of a new product called the “Mike Tyson Digital Wallet.” It’s being billed as the first mainstream service allowing consumers to buy and sell bitcoin, the virtual currency used as an alternative to traditional money systems. Available for iOS—with an Android version coming soon—the service works with any bitcoin ATM and easily allows users to transfer funds to other users and to make purchases from stores that accept bitcoin.
Companies often hire celebrities to endorse their products because they invoke feelings of trust and familiarity on potential consumers, and Bitcoin Direct is betting that Tyson’s face tattoo will do what Walter Cronkite’s mustache did for CBS News.
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“People around the world of all ages know Mike Tyson, and as such Tyson’s potential to expand the Bitcoin market is dramatic,” said Peter Klamka, CEO of Bitcoin Direct, in a press release. Bitcoin Direct has been working with Tyson for a while, launching a series of Bitcoin ATMs that heavily featured graphic design based on his face tattoo. This new digital wallet is the next step.
Besides bringing trust and attention, celebrities are often called upon for endorsements is because they fully embody the image of a product. In this case, the match is almost too perfect. But puzzling to think that this match was fully intentional.
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Mike Tyson was known for being volatile and dangerous in and out of the boxing ring, notably nibbling off Evander Holyfield’s ear in a 1997 match. He was also notoriously bad with money, going bankrupt in 2003. These traits go fabulously well with bitcoin, the world’s most volatile currency that has lost those bold enough to invest significant amounts of money in it. Bitcoin is clearly the Mike Tyson of currencies.
But it seems equally unlikely Bitcoin Direct didn’t see these parallels. It seems as if the company is betting on Tyson’s image as the “Baddest Man on the Planet” to get others to roll the dice and bet on bitcoin.