Singapore Markets closed

Former England soccer star Michael Owen is invested in celebrity cryptocurrencies

Eustance Huang

Once known for his goal-scoring prowess on the soccer pitch as a star for his country and in clubs such as Liverpool and Real Madrid, former England international player Michael Owen is now moving into the world of cryptocurrency.

Speaking with CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday, Owen discussed the reasons behind his investment in Singapore-based Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX), which bills itself as "the world's first celebrity cryptocurrency exchange."

"The career of a sportsman is quite short" and there remains a life to live after retirement, Owen said. Having retired from the world of professional sports at the age of 33, Owen, now 38, has been venturing into the business world since then.

Despite the risks in cryptocurrencies, Owen said he sees the technology as a good platform for celebrities like himself to interact directly with fans.


GCOX hopes to makes money through transaction fees. The startup is raising private investment and will announce the timing of its first ICO in the second quarter, a GCOX spokesman told CNBC.

Celebrities will be able to launch their own tokens via GCOX and sell merchandise and services which will be paid for in tokens. The celebrities will then have the option of swapping the tokens for Bitcoin or Ether before cashing out at the prevailing market rate, the spokesman said.

Beyond the star power of the former soccer player, GCOX has also brought on boxing legend Manny Pacquaio as a "private investor."

GCOX says it will allow famous people to create "personal cryptocurrencies" and manage their own initial coin offering (ICO). With enough coins on the marketplace, the platform could become "the world's first authoritative popularity index," the company claims.

The crypto platform says that celebrity tokens — which will be purchasable through its own "Acclaim" tokens — could be used as a way to purchase "exclusive goods and services."

Cryptocurrencies are volatile investments, but Owen said he thinks "it's always important to associate yourself with what you consider the best teams at the time," drawing a parallel to his career as a professional athlete.

"The world evolves, and I think sometimes you've got to be brave," he said, mentioning his experience in witnessing how training on the pitch had evolved along with technological changes.

"As I said, when you associate yourself with the best, then I think you can eliminate most of that risk."