Industry News

New kids on the blockchain: where do we go from here?

In our first TBF18 TAKE AWAYS from this week’s Forum, we examine some of the issues raised in the meeting’s first session dedicated to blockchain in ticketing.

‘Blockchain’ is one of the most talked-about subjects in the ticketing industry at present, with companies across the market speaking of its ability to enhance an existing system or service.

At the TheTicketingBusiness Forum 2018, which took place at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, England, this week, blockchain proved to be one of the key buzzwords that got people talking.

The subject was put to debate in a dedicated session at the end of the first day, with input from four industry figures that have seen the benefits blockchain can offer to ticketing.

Steve Machin, chief executive of Accent Media, served as host of the session, with the tough job of steering the debate to a conclusion that would leave delegates with not just a better understanding of what blockchain is, but how it can help their business.

David Franklin, head of ticketing tech and marketing at the Paléo Festival Nyon in Switzerland, spoke about how the event has used blockchain to make access easier for visitors to the event. This year, the festival sold its 250,000 tickets in just six hours and those attending can look forward to using their mobile phone to gain entry, rather than a traditional paper ticket.

Speaking of the advantages of blockchain, Franklin picked up on the subject of the secondary market and the role that blockchain has to play: “Blockchain rules can be set by the event organiser; there is no set rule for this market and it is purely down to what the organiser wants to do as to how they manage their ticketing.

“For example, if an event is cancelled, the organiser can choose to refund the person that currently holds the ticket or the original buyer if the ticket was resold at any point.”

Andy Grant, chief technology officer at Aventus Protocol Foundation then talked delegates through some of the basic terminology of blockchain to give them an understanding of the technology, before we heard from Philip Shaw-Stewart, co-founder and chief operating officer of BitTicket.

Shaw-Stewart talked delegates through the journey of his company, telling the story of how it has come through tough times to establish itself as a growing business, with some help from blockchain.

However, Shaw-Stewart also highlighted how blockchain is still something of an evolving technology that is not necessarily the best choice for everyone.

Shaw-Stewart said: “Blockchain has suffered teething problems with us; it can’t process as much as traditional financial transactions can. For example, with blockchain, you are looking at an average of 4.5 Bitcoin per second, compared to PayPal with 115 per second.”

Host Machin rounded up the debate with a Q&A session featuring input from a number of delegates that were keen to find out more. Machin admitted that it was nigh on impossible to reach a real conclusion on the debate, but did issue some valuable advice to attendees.

Machin said: “Blockchain is not the solution to every problem. You should not create a blockchain for the sake of it; you should ensure it adds some value to what you are trying to do.”

Image: The Xperiology Team