June 13, 2017 / 6:45 PM / 3 years ago

PotCoin soars after ex-basketball star Rodman wears logo in North Korea

NEW YORK (Reuters) - PotCoin, a crypto currency for the legalized cannabis industry, jumped in value on Tuesday after ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea wearing a t-shirt and baseball cap emblazoned with the digital payment system’s logo.

Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport as he leaves for North Korea's Pyongyang, in Beijing, China, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

PotCoin, which hopes to become the Bitcoin of the marijuana industry, is sponsoring the former National Basketball Association player’s trip to North Korea to meet with the leader of the reclusive state, Kim Jong Un.

PotCoin, like Bitcoin, is a virtual currency that can be moved like money around the world anonymously without the need for a central authority.

As of 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT) on Tuesday, one PotCoin was worth nearly 19 cents, up more than 90 percent from the previous day’s session, according to coinmarketcap.com. The digital currency’s market capitalization rose to over $40 million.

The sponsorship details were not known but PotCoin said in a press statement that Rodman would provide more information about his trip upon returning to the United States.

Rodman said in a tweet ahead of his trip: “Thank you PotCoin.com for sponsoring my mission. I’ll discuss when I return.”

PotCoin was not immediately available for comment regarding the sponsorship.

Prince Marketing Group, which represents Rodman, did not comment on any PotCoin sponsorship in a statement regarding Rodman’s trip to North Korea.

Rodman’s North Korea visits over the years have fueled speculation he could facilitate a diplomatic breakthrough between Pyongyang and Washington. At the same time, his trips have also faced ridicule and criticism from some U.S. politicians and activists who view them as fodder for North Korean propaganda.

More than half of U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana and eight have voted to legalize it for recreational purposes, but it remains illegal under federal law.

PotCoin, created in 2014, was originally aimed at giving cannabis dispensaries access to banking services as federal law prohibits banks and credit unions from doing business with them.

Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Chris Reese

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