PhonePe hits a six with IPL agreements

Indian digital payments platform PhonePe has signed six sponsorship agreements with the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament.

In an enhancement of its association with the sport, the company will act as a sponsor of the Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals, and reigning champions the Mumbai Indians.

“It is our vision as well as our ambition to bring digital payments to every Indian household. Our aggressive marketing efforts are in line with this strategic priority,” said Sameer Nigam, founder and chief executive of PhonePe.

In addition to its club sponsorship arrangements, PhonePe is also co-presenting partner of Star Sports Network’s televised coverage of the IPL, and acts as the associate sponsor of Disney+Holstaar’s digital broadcast.

The firm joins a range of companies to form sponsorship agreements with the IPL, including Chinese smartphone producer Vivo.

Vivo previously looked to abandon its contract with the tournament due to political tensions between India and China in the aftermath of border classes between military forces of the respective countries.

However, the company’s return to the IPL’s sponsorship portfolio was confirmed by the competition’s Chairman Brijesh Patel, who simply remarked “Vivo is back with us”.

Additional partners include fantasy gaming app Dream11, the appointment of which prompted criticism by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which argued that the firm’s operations could be classified as gambling, which at the time was illegal across five Indian states.

The 2021 IPL season is set to commence on 9 April, and organisers are hopeful that spectators will return to stadiums, having identified this as a key target earlier in the year. 

However, the current situation will see matches played behind closed doors across six neutral venues. In stark contrast to last year’s tournament, the matches will take place within India, whilst in 2020 fixtures were conducted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).