Agence France-Presse

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Michael Owen is launching a cryptocurrency in his own name, joining other famous sportsmen including Manny Pacquiao in a new venture to connect with fans.

The retired England star announced Wednesday his investment in the Singapore-based Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX) as he unveiled the “Owen Coin”.

The celebrity’s tokens will allow fans to buy merchandise such as personal training videos, make donations to charities and even interact with the ex-sportsman via live-streaming.

GCOX bills itself as the “world’s first celebrity cryptocurrency exchange” and said the listing of different celebrities’ tokens on its exchange would provide an objective indication of their popularity.

“Fans can be connected to their favourite celebrities in a much, much intimate level,” said Owen, 38, in Hong Kong.

The ex-Liverpool star has not been put off by investing in the market even as regulators across Asia take a more critical look at cryptocurrencies as their values fluctuates wildly.

Last year saw the meteoric rise of hundreds of virtual currencies led by bitcoin, which late last year was fetching almost $20,000 per unit before slumping to around $9,000 currently.

“When the price of bitcoin reached a new high last year, I knew it was a clear trajectory to cryptocurrency as a global phenomenon,” Owen told reporters.

The Englishman is not the first athlete to venture into the business.

Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao is also set to release own cryptocurrency on GCOX, while former welterweight boxing king Floyd Mayweather is also among the list of celebrities endorsing initial coin offerings, according to reports.

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