Pittsburgh Pirates partner with crypto veteran Gabor Gurbacs on fan rewards app

The Pittsburgh Pirates are partnering with a crypto-industry veteran launching a rewards program platform, seeking to capitalize on the rising demand for more digital-focused experiences.

Van Eck Associates Corp.’s Gabor Gurbacs is debuting PointsVille, a rewards-management app that creates points and rewards-based promotions companies can use to engage with fans. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

In partnership with the Major League Baseball team, PointsVille will allow season-ticket holders to earn and spend loyalty points, which can be redeemed in an app for merchandise and memorabilia, among other things. Gurbacs, who remains VanEck’s director of digital asset strategy, says his hope is the product will appeal to cryptocurrency fans given the platform’s gamified crypto-like experience.

“I’m really excited to get a new generation of asset owners to engage with points in a fun way,” Gurbacs, the founder and chief executive officer of the new firm, said in a phone interview. He likens it to Coinbase, Amazon.com, and Pokemon GO combined.

PointsVille has a digital wallet, similar to a common feature among crypto apps, where users will be able to store points. In addition to teaming up with the Pirates, the company is also working with Tickets.com and has the support of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange.

Travis Williams, president of the Pirates, said in a statement that the partnership is one way to promote the modern ballpark experience. PointsVille says it hopes to soon work with other Major League Baseball clubs as well.

Giveaways have been part of the crypto world since the creation of the digital currency, with “The Bitcoin Faucet” dispensing tokens in 2010. Last year, Tim Draper’s blockchain venture studio, Draper Goren Holm, pledged to give away at least $1 million in Bitcoin payouts to attendees of its virtual Los Angeles blockchain summit.

And professional sports teams and athletes have a history of involvement in the crypto space. A number of NBA and NFL stars have in recent months backed Dapper Labs, the company behind the popular NBA Top Shot digital collectibles platform.

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