Briefing: Bitmain’s Antpool sponsors Houston Rockets NBA team

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Bitmain sponsors NBA’s Houston Rockets as cryptocurrency goes mainstream–SCMP

What happened: Crypto mining giant Bitmain Technologies is making a splash by sponsoring the US National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets team. Antpool, Bitmain’s bitcoin mining company, seeks to “lead the conversation and conversion of consumers to adopt and understand digital currencies” through the deal, the head of Antpool’s overseas operations told  SCMP. According to the same source, Antpool settled on the Rockets due to their status as the “#1 team in China.” The news follows last month’s announcement that the company will build a data center in Rockdale, Texas, as part of its plan for US expansion. Antpool has also pledged to sink $500 million in Texas’ economy over seven years.

Why it’s important: The high-profile deal is intended to bring more public attention to Antpool’s operations. While Bitmain still dominates the field of cryptocurrency mining gear, Bitcoin and other currencies have dropped in value since their peak last December. In addition, the audience for crypto remains limited, as a recent iQiyi documentary called Bitcoin Girl strives to show. Bitmain is not the first to attach itself to a big-name sports team; in January, Arsenal welcomed US company CashBet Coin as the soccer club’s “first official cryptocurrency partner and official blockchain partner.”