Rario Funding: Cricket NFTs platform Rario raises $120 million led by Dream Capital

Mumbai: Cricket non-fungible tokens (NFTs) platform Rario has raised $120 million, led by Dream Capital, the corporate venture capital and M&A arm of Dream Sports.

Alpha Wave Global (previously Falcon Edge Capital) participated in the round, and now joins existing investors Animoca Brands, Presight Capital, and Kingsway Capital.

ET was the first to report on February 25 that
Dream Capital was in advanced talks to lead a funding round in Rario.

This marks Dream Capital’s first investment in the Web3 space and is also its largest check so far in a startup.

The strategic investment will give Rario access to the 140 million user base of Dream Sports.

“…we see a compelling and sustainable use case emerging in sports NFTs as a fan engagement tool. Sports fans are now empowered to own their favorite moments and player cards and use them across various utilities. Rario is strategically a strong fit for us and is our largest investment,” Dev Bajaj, chief strategy officer of Dream Sports told ET.

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Singapore-based Rario was founded in 2021 by Sunny Bhanot and Ankit Wadhwa amid a global boom in NFTs and cryptocurrency.

The platform has procured NFT rights to six international leagues and over 900 international cricketers through its various partnerships.

It recently signed a multi-year exclusive partnership with Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association to create an Australian cricket metaverse of collectibles and gaming.

Wadhwa said Rario has been able to secure the most comprehensive set of rights including the rights of players.

“What this enables for us is exclusive and broadbased access to not just video moment NFTs, but players’ rights as well. Players who are playing for the national teams and domestic tournaments are also part of this ecosystem,” Wadhwa said. “Therefore, what you will see with our rights is we have the ability to create utility with several interoperable games. So, the same player cards can be used across various games. I see this as the first instance where the true utility of NFTs will be demonstrated to the whole world.”

The company, he said, will use the funds to secure additional rights and build products.

Rario enables fans to engage as a community, giving them a chance to own a piece of cricket history through digital collectibles across player cards, video moments, and cricket artifacts. Through Rario, Indian sports fans can buy, sell and trade NFTs using credit cards, debit cards, and bank transfers.

Usually, transactions on popular NFT marketplaces happen using crypto, but Rario is trying to build a framework for transactions and purchasing NFTs that is conducive to the current regulatory environment in India.

“Rario plans to be within the regulatory constraints of whichever geography we operate in. So, we are building for a fiat-only (currency only) environment in India,” Wadhwa said.

Gains from trading NFTs are taxed at 30%.

Since 2021, Rario has sold over 50,000 NFTs to buyers across 20 countries. The UK, US, Australia, and India are its top-selling markets.

Rival cricket NFT platform Fan Craze raised $100 million in a funding round led by New York-based global private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners, with participation from B Capital recently.

US-based Dream Sports, the parent company of online fantasy gaming startup Dream11, set up a venture arm in August last year with a corpus of $250 million, in a bid to become a sports technology conglomerate.

It has invested in 12 startups so far, including a $50 million investment in content and commerce platform FanCode which it had incubated.

Dream Sports’ portfolio spans 140 million users across Dream11, sports accelerator DreamX, and experiential travel company DreamSetGo.

Dream Sports was valued at $8 billion after it raised $840 million in November from new and existing investors, including Falcon Edge, DST Global, D1 Capital, Tiger Global and Redbird Capital. TPG and Footpath Ventures also participated in that funding round.

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