The Australian Baseball League’s “Bitcoin standard”-adopting Perth Heat has introduced a new initiative called “Stealing Sats”, in which fans can be rewarded with a fraction of Bitcoin (BTC) every time its players steal a base or nail a home run. 

That oughta take some crypto-loving baseball fans down to Perth Heat’s ballpark. Well, actually it’s conducted via QR codes on the team’s game streams and social channels, so they can do it from their living rooms, too.

But still, wouldn’t be surprised if it brings the most successful club in ABL history a few extra fans here and there. 


Incentivising fans and players

The way the new initiative is being facilitated is through a collaboration with three other entities – Bitrefill, a crypto-focused e-commerce business; Wallet of Satoshi, “the world’s simplest Bitcoin Lightning wallet”; and IBEX, a Bitcoin Lightning infrastructure firm.

And how it works is pretty  simple. Each time a Perth Heat player steals a base or knocks a home run into the stands, fans have an opportunity to scan a QR code and pretty much instantly (via the Bitcoin layer 2 Lightning payments network) earn some satoshis – fractionalised amounts of the leading digital asset – directly into a wallet set up on their phone.

“We are thrilled to be launching Stealing Sats in partnership with Bitrefill, Wallet of Satoshi, and IBEX,” said Perth Heat CEO Steven Nelkovski in a press release sent to Coinhead on Thursday.

“This is an innovative way to engage with our fans and offer them something new and exciting,” he added. “We believe this program will further enhance the fan experience and incentivise our players to push themselves to achieve their best on the field.”

Perth Heat infielder Willy Vasquez. (Photo supplied)


Riding the Bitcoin standard through the bear market

Perth Heat made global headlines in 2021 when it came to light it had adopted a “Bitcoin standard”. Coinhead spoke with Nelkovski and his “Chief Bitcoin Officer” in November of that year, which you can read here to get the full take on it all.

But just as a refresher, what actually is meant by adopting the Bitcoin standard?

“It means we’re using Bitcoin as a standard for payments and payouts right across our organisation,” Nelkovski explained at the time. “It means we’re completely embracing the underlying values of the Bitcoin protocol.”

The Heat’s Bitcoin move was notable because it became the first professional sports team in the world to adopt the standard and integrate a Lightning payments system to its stadium and fan experiences.

So now, more than a year on, how does Nelkovski rate the success of Perth Heat’s Bitcoin approach? We asked him via email, to which he replied:

“Incredible. Perth Heat are pioneering the most advanced adoption of Bitcoin and Lightning in world sport and it’s humbling that we have the opportunity to lead so many exciting initiatives.”

But it must’ve been challenging to stick with the Bitcoin business strategy in the depths of the bear market?

“We always had a long-term lens with it and understanding that Bitcoin has bear markets we knew the cycles we would face on our journey,” said the CEO.

“When we began, Bitcoin was soaring to an all-time high and then our season was cancelled, and the bear market arrived.

“So the bear market naturally has had an impact on our organisation’s uptake with Bitcoin over the past six to 12 months but we’ve also identified areas of education that we need to apply.”


‘A potential value stream never possible before’

“Stealing Sats” comes on the back of a similar initiative the club dubbed “sats4stats”, which was launched at the start of the most recent ABL season (in which the Heat were runners-up to the Adelaide Giants in a tightly fought series).

Regarded as a big success by the club, the sats4stats program has been a way for fans, in stadium and around the world, to reward players, coaches, and entire teams with Lightning-powered BTC micropayment “boosts”.

In other words, do well as a Perth Heat player or coaching staff and you might well end up with some handy extra rewards. What was that Gladiator quote? “Win the crowd, and you’ll win your (financial) freedom?” Something like that.

“The ability to send micro-payments at the speed of light with near zero fees unlocked a potential value stream that has never been possible before,” Nelkovski told Coinhead

“The result of Bitcoin’s open-source structure is that all of the necessary tech to implement #sats4stats already exists,” added the Heat CEO. “There is no upfront cost for organisations around the world to immediately begin tapping into this new value stream.”

As an example of how sats4stats has played out, Nelkovski sent us this Twitter exchange:

As for Stealing Sats, how much BTC can be earned per base steal or home run? And do fans have to do it claim it within a quick timeframe?

“It’s roughly 300,000 sats (about $100) allocated per home run and stolen base and these were broken down into $20 amounts,” clarified the Heat boss.

“And they’re taken in a flash – instant!”

We also asked Nelkovski if any other sports teams have come to the Perth Heat for advice on the Bitcoin standard and followed in its specific example?

“We have been inundated with requests and are now developing a playbook to help us educate teams globally,” he replied, adding:

“The Bitcoin Sports League is growing internationally and it’s so cool to see.”