SL Benfica fans will be able to use cryptocurrency to buy tickets and merchandise thanks to an unprecedented partnership announced on Wednesday.

By partnering with cryptocurrency payment solution company Utrust, the Portuguese champion has become the first top-flight European club to accept payment via blockchain. Fans can pay using bitcoin or Ethereum across the whole range of products available on Benfica’s online store.

“This is an exciting day in the history of S.L. Benfica as we announce our decision to accept cryptocurrency payments,” says SL Benfica CEO Domingos Soares de Oliveira. “We recognise that many of our supporters are now digital users first, so we want to be ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting novel technologies and giving our supporters the best online experience.”

Benfica, which has over 14 million supporters across the globe, and a fan base of over 7 million across all social media platforms, hopes that the partnership will evolve its e-commerce strategy and expand its global audience and customer reach. The club hopes to draw in tech-savvy football fans and also introduce the concept of blockchain payments to existing fans.

“We are very excited about the possibilities that this partnership with Utrust presents in the evolution of our e-commerce strategy and we look forward to accepting our first cryptocurrency payment,” adds Soares de Oliveira.

Benfica cryptocurrency partnership “major milestone”

By partnering with the most decorated club in Portugal, Utrust hopes to enable more people to become aware of and comfortable with using cryptocurrency payments.

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“This partnership with Portugal’s number one football club marks a major milestone for Utrust and the blockchain ecosystem as a whole,” said co-founder and CEO of Utrust, Nuno Correia.

“Benfica is one of the biggest sporting clubs worldwide and we are delighted to be making cryptocurrency payments possible for their 14 million supporters around the world.”

Utrust is vowing to modernise the finance and payments industry by providing instant crypto-to-fiat conversions, where any payments made in cryptocurrency are immediately converted to traditional currency.

The core technology offered by Utrust will therefore allow SL Benfica to take advantage of the increase security and convenience of blockchain payments without having to contend with the volatility associated with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

The club is hoping to see considerable numbers paying with cryptocurrency, telling fans it is cheaper, safer and faster than any other online payment method. With the Utrust platform, customers are able to pay using the native Utrust token (UTK), or popular cryptocurrencies bitcoin and Ethereum.

Previously we’ve seen many clubs have flirting with the blockchain concepts. French champions Paris Saint Germain and Italian giants Juventus are both partnered with the blockchain-based fan engagement platform, with London minnows West Ham United recently joining them as official partners. The platform allows fans to buy and trade fan tokens against its native token, with token values reflecting demand and availability.

In 2018, amateur Turkish club Harunustaspor made the first player transfer using bitcoin, paying 22-year-old Omar Faruk Kiroglu 0.0524 in bitcoin (approximately £385 at the time) and 2,500 Turkish Lira (£470) as part of the deal.

Benfica’s official online store has already begun accepting cryptocurrency and supporters can purchase tickets and merchandise via Benfica’s desktop website, mobile or dedicated app.

Read more: Who’s top of the football cybersecurity league? Probably not who you think