SBI e-Sports, a subsidiary of Japanese financial services behemoth SBI Group, has signed a sponsorship deal with the company's venture capital arm VC Trade, according to a Sept. 30 announcement.
The sponsorship will make it possible for professional e-sports players to receive their annual salary in XRP, the world's fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.
Targeting the digitally-minded individual
SBI Holdings made a foray into Japan's burgeoning e-sports gaming scene by launching SBI e-Sports in July.
The global audiences of e-sports platforms are expected to reach $645 mln in 2020, according to 2019 research published by Green Man Gaming. The entire industry already surpassed a staggering $1 bln in annual revenue last year, and this figure was predicted to skyrocketed to $2.3 bln by 2022.
SBI e-Sports is responsible for fielding professional teams, coordinating e-sports media and providing consulting for the industry. It also set out to help local governments revive their economies by attracting e-sports events.
With this effort, SBI Holdings plans to boost its brand recognition with digitally-minded individuals.
XRP and gaming
While the decision to pay its players salaries in XRP may sound unorthodox, it is worth noting that SBI Holdings has been a long-time partner of Ripple. Back in 2016, it created the SBI Ripple Asia subsidiary.
Ripple itself dipped its toes into the gaming industry last year. As reported by U.Today, blockchain-focused gaming company Forte formed a $100 fund together with Ripple's investment arm Xpring last year.
By leveraging Interledger and XRP, Forte was attempting to form more successful gaming economies.