Sep 22, 2020 - Sports

Alt aims to reinvent trading card collecting

an illustration of stacks of cards

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The trading card boom shows no signs of slowing down, and new companies are emerging to serve — and build upon — the evolving landscape.

Driving the news: Alt is a new platform set to launch on Oct. 1 that will allow investors to manage trading cards and other alternative assets similarly to the way they manage more traditional assets like stocks and bonds.

The big picture: A decade ago, Coinbase built the infrastructure needed to turn cryptocurrency into a manageable asset. Now, Alt aims to do the same for collectibles with an interface that looks a lot like what you'd see on, say, Yahoo Finance or Fidelity (i.e. recent transactions, portfolio gains/losses, etc).

How it works: At the core of the platform is Alt's proprietary "Alt Value," which allows customers to get real-time valuations on their investments — something founder Leore Avidar hopes will bring "transparency and liquidity to the space."

  • "Think of Alt Value as the Zestimate [Zillow's tool for estimating the market value of a house] of trading cards, art and other unconventional assets," Avidar tells me.
  • Instead of using eBay or another online marketplace, customers can transact directly through Alt and even insure their assets.

Between the lines: In addition to allowing customers to easily invest, research and track trading cards and other assets, Alt will also provide a "vault as a service" where customers can store them.

  • Perhaps you heard about the Giannis Antetokounmpo rookie card that sold for a record $1.81 million this week? Or the LeBron James rookie card that sold for a then-record $1.8 million in July?
  • Both cards were purchased by Alt through the company's inaugural asset fund, Alt Fund I — and both now sit in the vault.
  • "We want Alt to be known for trust and security, so we're literally saying, 'We bought the two most expensive basketball cards in the world — and yours are going to be right there next to them,'" says Avidar.

The bottom line: The modern trading card industry has created a new type of collector whose less interested in nostalgia and more interested in building a financial portfolio.

  • And since a card's value is correlated to an athlete's performance — and not the stock market — it's an attractive option for people looking to diversify.
  • Alt has arrived to serve those investors, and more companies will pop up as the world of alternative assets matures.
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