The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) announced Thursday that it has entered into a partnership with Bitbuy, a leading Canadian cryptocurrency platform, that will enable the league to pay players a portion of their salaries in Bitcoin. The partnership will be the first of its kind for any professional sports league in North America and comes as the league is set to tip off its third season June 24.
“Innovation and delivering a new basketball experience have been a driving force behind our creation of one of the world’s most widely recognized pro basketball leagues,” said Mike Morreale, Commissioner and CEO of the CEBL. “Some of the best players outside the NBA, and some with NBA experience, have joined our league because we make player-first decisions. Our partnership with Bitbuy speaks to our commitment to players, and also to our forward-thinking approach to how we go about our business. We appreciate Bitbuy’s investment in helping us further grow Canada’s official national pro basketball league.”
The CEBL’s players will be able to opt in to receive a portion of their salary paid to them in Bitcoin. Bitbuy will work with the CEBL to convert the players Canadian dollar salaries into Bitcoin and assist in delivering Bitcoin to the players’ personal cryptocurrency wallets.
Bitbuy, Canada’s most trusted cryptocurrency platform, with over 300,000 Canadian users, will also be signing on as a league sponsor as part of the partnership.“We’re proud to support homegrown Canadian sports, and to partner with the league on this first to market initiative. We think this represents a significant shift in how athletes are thinking about compensation, and we’re excited to help the CEBL’s players protect their long-term wealth by getting paid in Bitcoin,” said Charlie Aikenhead, VP Marketing at Bitbuy.The partnership came together after interest was voiced by players to league management, after the NFL’s Russell Okung became the first North American Professional sports player to be paid in Bitcoin, last year.
Kimbal Mackenzie, a guard for the Guelph Nighthawks, will be one of the first players to opt-in to the program.
“The opportunity to be paid in Bitcoin is something I’m incredibly excited about. I believe cryptocurrency is the future,” Mackenzie said. “The ability to have part of my salary go directly into an investment that I believe will appreciate greatly over the next 10-30 years is a no-brainer. The CEBL continues to provide us as players with forward-thinking opportunities, and the option to be paid in Bitcoin further highlights that they are one of the top leagues in the world.”
Bitcoin’s value has increased more than 265% in the past year as individuals and businesses have started buying the asset to protect against rapid inflation and uncertain global economic conditions. Bitcoin is a deflationary, hard asset by nature and has historically greatly outperformed the S&P 500 and other traditional long-term investments.
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A league created by Canadians for Canadians, the CEBL has the highest percentage of Canadian players of any professional league in the country, with 80 percent of its 2020 rosters being Canadians. Players come from the NBA G League, top international pro leagues, the Canadian National team program, and top NCAA and U SPORTS programs. It uses FIBA (International Basketball Federation) rules, and player and referee standards set by its partner, Canada Basketball. The CEBL became the first professional basketball league in the world to use the Elam Ending in FIBA competition, when it incorporated the innovative conclusion into all of its games during the 2020 CEBL Summer Series.
Bitbuy Technologies Inc is a Canadian owned and operated cryptocurrency company. The company’s mission is to provide convenient, dependable and secure access to bitcoin and other digital currencies. Bitbuy currently operates out of downtown Toronto and is registered with FINTRAC as a Money Services Business under the Virtual Asset Service Provider category. Bitbuy was founded in 2016 and is currently one of Canada’s largest cryptocurrency platforms by trading volume.