Ticketmaster envisions a world in the not too distant future where tickets function as “smart contracts” powered by blockchain technology, making transactions trackable and irreversible, according to coverage of remarks by an executive speaking at Elev8CON in Las Vegas on Monday.
“Ticketmaster has technology that is almost 40 years old,” says Sandy Khaund, Ticketmaster’s vice president of blockchain products, who joined the company when it acquired Upgraded a year ago. “Using smart contracts on a blockchain network creates a unique system for Ticketmaster by writing code for each ticket we sell. We run this over a private blockchain network to ensure privacy and optimization around tickets.”
His vision is for Ticketmaster to utilize the technology to support the entirety of the estimated 475 million tickets the company sells, according to coverage of the event. Paired with technology such as the rotating barcode “Safetix” system that was used to shut down ticket transferability and lock hundreds out of a Black Keys show earlier this year, these “smart contracts” could be used to effectively eliminate consumer choice in ticket resale.
The use case cited in the talk on Monday illustrated the point concisely. In last year’s run of “hometown shows” by Pearl Jam, the band charged $150 per ticket, which made them a popular target for resale due to the market being willing to pay far more than that.
“We needed to make these tickets non-transferable,” he told the crowd. “So we gave out two tickets. The first went to the issuer and couldn’t be transferred. The second ticket could only be transferred once. We were able to do this in 15 minutes once we wrote a smart contract for the use case, which contained an overriding function around transfers, along with a transfer counter.”
It is unclear when Ticketmaster plans to roll such technology out in large scale, or to what degree the restriction of transfer rights via blockchain and rotating barcodes might be deployed, but the largest ticketing company in the world clearly already has the capability at their fingertips.
It seems at least possible that the House Energy and Commerce Committee inquiry into ticketing could play a substantial role in whether or not such restrictions become a new normal, as one of the points of emphasis the committee indicated to Live Nation in its request for more information was headlined in bold as “Restrictions on the transferability of tickets limit consumer options.”
“Our job is to make sure the integration process for tickets is seamless with other systems, like SafeTix,” Khaund said Monday. “We also plan to support millions of tickets that won’t cause lag time for customers. Finally, we plan to make tickets smarter. This technology is programmable by nature and we need to continue coming up with creative use cases.”