Centra Tech Hires Celebrity Brand Ambassador


Music producer and social media star DJ Khaled (born Khaled Mohamed Khaled) is getting into the crypto-pumping business.

Khaled is the latest celebrity to become a pitchman for an initial coin offering, or ICO, a hot fundraising mechanism that cryptocurrency startups have been using to sell their own digital tokens. The trend, which many industry watchers have compared to a bubble, has entrepreneurs minting hundreds of millions of dollars out of little more than a business plan and some computer code.

Khaled posted a picture of himself posing in a white armchair while grasping a bottle of Cîroc vodka to his Instagram account on Wednesday evening. In his other hand he holds aloft a silver payment card.

“I just received my titanium centra debit card. The Centra Card & Centra Wallet app is the ultimate winner in Cryptocurrency debit cards powered by CTR tokens!” Khaled wrote in the caption.

Raymond Trapani, chief operating officer of Centra Tech, the startup whose products are featured in the post, told Fortune that Khaled is, as of Monday, an “official brand ambassador and managing partner” of the company. Trapani also said Centra Tech signed pro boxer Floyd Mayweather, who posted twice about the ICO this month, for the same position.

Spokespeople for Khaled and Mayweather could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Use your bitcoins, ethereum, and more cryptocurrencies in real time across the globe,” Khaled wrote. “This is a Game changer here. Get your CTR tokens now! #CryptoBilli #Bitcoin #Ethereum#Digitalcurrency”

Many of these ICOs use tokens based on Ethereum, a network that lets people spin up their own digital currencies. Some projects create entirely new blockchains, adaptations of the shared ledger technology that first made its name powering Bitcoin.

Khaled joins a growing list of celebrities that have lent their fame to the promotion of an ICO. He is preceded by Mayweather, hotel heiress Paris Hilton, soccer star Luis Suarez, and actor Jamie Foxx.

As my Fortune colleague Jeff John Roberts has pointed out, it is unclear whether these celebrities will be held to account if financial regulators deem that the projects they’ve been promoting are engaged in the sale of unregistered securities. At least one ill-fated project, The Dao, was recently found to have flouted federal securities law by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

China recently banned ICOs outright.

Original article: www.fortune.com

Written by: Robert Hackett

InsightsShana Grossman