Is blockchain the next big thing for the event world?

High security and detailed digital records make blockchain a game changer for events, says Caroline Bee of Pico+.

Caroline Bee is general manager of Pico+ Europe

Blockchain – the complex, publically-accessible, practically un-hackable new frontier in secure transactions – is a word that is on everyone’s lips these days. 

It is creating opportunities in the event industry. Its primary benefit and unique selling point is its high security. Each ‘block’ – a digital transaction record containing information on a transaction, the parties involved and a unique identifier – is stored simultaneously on multiple computers.

To try to edit a block, ie change the details of a transaction, is next to impossible.

Eliminating scalpers from the ticketing ecosystem

Blockchain is being used right now to make ticketing more ethical and secure by excluding third parties from the ticket selling process. Since blockchain transactions cannot be forged, tampered with or reversed, it eliminates scalpers and the often-unethical secondary ticket market.

One example is Amsterdam-based GUTS Tickets, which bills itself as a simple, honest and fair ticketing organisation which eradicates ‘disgraceful secondary market prices and ticket fraud.’ It does this by issuing smart tickets that can be resold within fixed boundaries, meaning that profiting from reselling is not possible.

These smart tickets also ‘remember’ everything they have experienced. This data is easy to access and transparently shown on a dashboard, according to the service provider, allowing organisers to gain valuable insights.

Creating decentralised event marketing and fair rewards

Another example is KickCity, a ‘decentralised community of event influencers and progressive vendors who help vendors sell tickets and maintain high retention rates on future events’.

This blockchain-based platform combines event management with marketing. Members of the KickCity community, known as ‘kickers’, refer events to their contacts or provide affiliated event marketing services, being rewarded with tokens when conversions are made, which they can use to gain discounts on ticket purchases.

With the organisers only ‘paying for what they get’ and the kickers incentivised to help an event succeed, everybody wins.

Making events more secure and more efficient

Blockchain is also being used for identity management at events, simultaneously keeping people more secure and making event registration and participation more efficient.

Once an event-goer has been registered or has purchased a smart ticket the details are distributed to the organiser immediately on the blockchain network. Complex entry and security procedures can be bypassed, allowing repeat visitors direct, rapid access to the venue. And the technology will also help organisers to trace the ticket holders effectively.

There are also services like Blockpass. It provides users with an online safe that contains their verified personal data. Users upload their personal data, wait until it is scanned and marked ‘clean’ and then they are cleared to interact with all Blockpass-enabled platforms, completely removing the need to re-verify their identity multiple times.

Another benefit is that the app’s design gives users full control of their personal data – they can choose what aspects of their data they want to share with which party.

In the world of events, both event organisers and event-goers benefit: the organisers can reduce their verification and data security management costs, while attendees gain more control of their personal data and enjoy a smooth and seamless event experience.

So far, so good. What about the future?

On top of the obvious security benefits, blockchain technology has the potential to create massive cost savings. With security virtually guaranteed, the costs of dealing with third parties will inevitably decrease; while its inherent efficiency and accuracy can make blockchain incredibly effective when used for logistics by reducing delays and errors in communication.

Experts liken blockchain’s current state of development to the early days of the internet: everyone knows it’s a good idea, but it is too early to tell exactly what ‘next big thing’ it will lead to.

The most important things for event professionals right now are that we are aware of blockchain, understand it and keep it on our radar, as its potential to impact the world of events is enormous and exciting.

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