- The Phoenix Suns signed a sponsorship deal with PayPal that places the payment processor's logo on the professional basketball team's jerseys, the team announced in a press release. The agreement also makes PayPal the official payment partner of the Suns, the Phoenix Mercury women's team and Real Club Deportivo Mallorca, a Spanish soccer team owned by Suns managing partner Robert Sarver.
- PayPal will be integrated into the Suns' mobile app, letting fans go cashless with one-touch payments to pay for parking and buy everything from merchandise to concessions at the Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix. PayPal will install special card readers for chip, swipe and tap payments at the arena.
- Fans also can make purchases using Venmo, PayPal's person-to-person (P2P) payment processor, on their mobile devices. The Phoenix Suns are the 25th team in the NBA to sign a jersey patch deal with a sponsor as part of a three-year pilot program, according to Sports Business Daily.
The Phoenix Suns' sponsorship deal with PayPal is notable for encompassing a variety of services that let the payment processor demonstrate cashless transactions to thousands of fans who attend the team's home games. PayPal joins the ranks of NBA jersey patch sponsors that include Squarespace (New York Knicks), Wish (Los Angeles Lakers), Bumble (Los Angeles Clippers), Rakuten (Golden State Warriors) and FitBit (Minnesota Timberwolves). A key difference with the PayPal sponsorship is that the company can directly integrate its service with fans' experiences at the venue. The payments company seeks to stand out as it faces greater competition from other mobile and contactless payment options such as Apple Pay Cash and bank-powered Zelle.
Patch sponsors, which pay anywhere from $5 million to $20 million to participate in the pilot program, may generate more than $350 million in promotional value from social media alone, per estimates from sports media valuation company GumGum Sports cited by Forbes. Brands can get high visibility on social media platforms when fans share pictures of their favorite players sporting the patched jerseys. Looking at worldwide exposure, Adidas has the most-shared logo on social media, according to a ranking by Brandwatch that placed the sportswear brand ahead of Nike, Puma and Under Armour. The Adidas logo appears in 6.5 million images shared on Twitter and Instagram each month, though patches like the Suns' could help shake up these numbers.
PayPal's sponsorship of the Phoenix Suns comes about a month after the company redesigned its mobile app to simplify the steps of sending and requesting money. The updated version lets users add photos and personalize their lists of contacts to ensure they're sending payments to the right person. The app's home screen dedicates more space to personalized notifications, including alerts that indicate payments have been received or sent, per a blog post.
The volume of P2P payments sent online or via a mobile device jumped 21% to $348 billion in 2017 from the previous year, Javelin Strategy & Research found. Zelle's payment volume rose 12% to $28 billion in Q2 2018 from the prior quarter, while PayPal's P2P payments rose 10% to $33 billion, including $14 billion from Venmo and $19 billion from PayPal's namesake app, according to The Wall Street Journal, signaling that consumers are growing increasingly comfortable with this type of mobile tech.