Manny Pacquiao launches merchandise-backed cryptocurrency

On Sunday, champion boxer Manny Pacquiao announced the launch of his own cryptocurrency before a crowd of fans in Manila. The currency, called "pac", is less a currency than a kind of fan market, which gives fans the opportunity to buy merchandise and interact with Pacquiao in a similar way to the Jeremy Renner app and similar fan projects. But while the value of the Pac is backed by the demand of Pacquiao's considerable fan base, the Pac behaves like a normal cryptocurrency, providing a digitally interchangeable token with a floating value secured by a decentralized ledger.

Pacquiao is launching the company with the help of the GCOX Group, a company in Southeast Asia that has developed a new model for celebrity tokens. "GCOX revolutionizes the way celebrities interact with their fans, giving the public unparalleled access to celebrities," the company says on its website. "This platform also allows celebrities, at different stages of their celebrity life cycle, to develop, monetize and revitalize their popularity through the various media found in the ACCLAIM blockchain."

Pacquiao will be the first major test of that model, although Jason Derulo and English soccer star Michael Owen are also planning releases with GCOX.

Several other athletes and celebrities have tried cryptocurrency ventures, often with disastrous results. Steven Seagal was hired as the official brand ambassador for Bitcoiin [sic] who was attacked in 2018 with an order to cease and withdraw securities regulators in New Jersey. Floyd Mayweather Jr., a former rival of Pacquiao, was one of the first defenders of CentraCoin, a cryptocurrency project connected with debit, which eventually resulted in SEC actions and fraud charges against the founders. Still, the Pacquiao scheme is the first one that would use a celebrity fan base to directly underpin the value of the currency, potentially a more viable approach.

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