Following the global crypto boom, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has called for the exclusion of prominent public figures in crypto product endorsements. This suggestion comes following concerns that celebrity endorsers may mislead investors into thinking cryptocurrencies are more stable than they actually are. In reality, though, crypto in its nature is volatile and remains an unregulated digital asset in India.
Despite this SEBI statement, India’s most famous celebrities are not showing any signs of letting go of crypto. Over the last year, many of the most revered personalities have actively staked their star power behind this decade’s most prolific digital assets.
The Rise of Digital Assets in Celebrity Circles
Although Indian celebrities have yet to be as vocal about their cryptocurrency investments (if any) as their Western counterparts, that hasn’t stopped many from openly rolling out their own projects. Notably, just last October, Bollywood megastar Salman Khan rolled out India’s first ever crypto. Called $GARI, the blockchain-based token was created by the short video app Chingari. Marketed as a social token for community creators, the GARI tokens are intended to enhance monetization opportunities. Dubbed the fastest-growing short video app, Chingari first rose to prominence following India’s TikTok ban. Currently, millions of users can receive GARI tokens when they create and share content. In the future, this use of native tokens is intended to create a circular economy where creators have authority over platform developments.
Aside from direct cryptocurrencies, celebrities and sports teams are dipping their toes in the digital currency world. More recently, tokenization has reached the elite sporting world. Currently, numerous teams offer Socios fan tokens that offer unique benefits to super fans. Among the newest teams to do so are three IPL franchises including the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Punjab Kings, and Kolkata Knight Riders. All part of the Twenty20 cricket league, all three teams are now part of a growing fan token movement. Through fan tokens, fans can take a more active role in shaping team decisions. Depending on the team, this could mean access to voting in polls, VIP rewards, exclusive promotions, chatting with players, games, competitions, and special viewing features. The three aforementioned teams join the ranks of other world-class sports entities that have embraced fan tokens like the NBA and Manchester City.
In line with tokenization, Bollywood legends have also started offering their own non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Last year, screen icon Amitabh Bachchan announced that he would be launching his own limited collection of NFTs. The star’s collection of NFTs will include autographed posters of his most famous films. Additionally, renowned fashion designer Manish Malhotra has also been banking on NFTs. In 2021, he sold NFTs of the digital sketches of some of his most celebrated designs. Each NFT sold for an impressive $4,000. Moving forward, analysts expect more household names to launch their own NFTs in India.
The Future of Celebrities in the Crypto Space
Although there has been a lot of excitement following a slew of celebrities investing in the crypto sphere, things may soon change. While the SEBI statement has yet to usher in a concrete law, many anticipate that celebrities will soon have to be more discerning in their actions. This means that while celebrities cannot be prohibited from using and offering digital assets, they may have to do so under a more transparent platform. As a result, regulators are hopeful that investors, especially ones from the younger demographic, will be better informed and able to invest in more stable digital assets.