Verified Fan, Ticketmaster’s new weapon to beat ticket bots, has been hailed as a success after minimising the scalping of Ed Sheeran tickets this week.

The system had been in beta testing for a number of months, but has now been used to control the pre-sale of tickets to see one of the world’s biggest stars on his North American tour. Ticketmaster told the Recode tech news website that less than 1 per cent of tickets sold through the Verified Fan programme have so far ended up in secondary ticket markets, compared to what is usually a double-digit percentage.

Ticketmaster’s software asks fans to provide personal information including their phone number, email and social handles. Verified Fan then assesses whether they are human, looking for clues like past ticket-buying history and social posts, and lets ticket-buyers know if they’ve made the cut.

“Bots are about speed, and if you make distribution about speed, you’re fighting a very hard battle,” said David Marcus, Ticketmaster’s head of music in North America. “If you make it about identity, it’s much different.”

Find out more about Verified Fan here

The Verified Fan programme has so far focused only on concert pre-sales, since bots tend to swoop in to try to snatch up tickets as early as possible.

However, Marcus told Recode that if Verified Fan works at scale, Ticketmaster could move it beyond pre-sales, which represent a minority of tickets for each event, and use the ticketing method for entire shows.

Late last year Jody Mulkey, Ticketmaster’s chief technology officer, said the company was on the verge of a major development in the fight against bots, which are used by scalpers to seize tickets in bulk within seconds of going on sale.

“The team is currently bringing a new product to the market that uses a proprietary algorithm that helps Ticketmaster and our clients ensure that we get tickets into the hands of real fans,” Mulkey said.

“After several recent launches, I was beaming with pride knowing that our team created the technology that allowed an artist’s dedicated fans direct access to tickets for the show.”