Tech company vows to stamp out ‘rip-off’ online ticket touting in theatre

Could blockchain technology eradicate online resale of tickets at inflated prices? Photo: Gary Glaser/Shutterstock
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Technology used for secure transactions in gold and diamond trading is at the core of a new ticketing platform trying to stamp out fraud and touting in the entertainment industry.

Blockchain technology, which was created to provide financial transparency for digital currencies such as Bitcoin, forms the basis of Citizen Ticket, a platform designed to make the secondary ticket industry fairer.

Theatre producers have regularly complained about the online secondary market, where buyers can resell tickets to events such as theatre, music and sport. They claim it is blighted by online touts buying up large numbers of highly sought-after tickets and reselling them at inflated prices.

The market is dominated by a small number of sites, such as Seatwave and Viagogo, on which tickets for sold-out shows such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Hamilton are advertised for several times their face value.

Set up to combat this, Citizen Ticket claims to provide a secure environment to buy, sell and transfer tickets, and ensures that tickets cannot be removed from it and sold on secondary platforms.

Blockchain uses a network of computers to keep a publicly available record of time, date and the amount of money tied to an item, in this case a ticket, as well as the participant in the transaction.

This allows any suspicious transactions or unlawful behaviour to be identified, tickets frozen and the offending user investigated.

As Citizen Ticket’s technology – BitTicket – is based on blockchain, it means that batches cannot be oversold and tickets cannot be copied or counterfeited, while the number of tickets in a transaction is also monitored.

While a single BitTicket can only have one owner, it can be securely transferred or resold to a new owner – at face value – via Citizen Ticket.

Citizen Ticket said this system allows the value of a ticket to be guaranteed in a way that is unmatched by private databases and paper systems.

Phil Shaw-Stewart, Citizen Ticket co-founder, said the platform hoped to deal with the “unethical problems that plague the event ticketing industry”, such as touts and counterfeits.

“The public and artists have spoken and they’ve had enough of being extorted and ripped off by unethical ticketing practises. Citizen Ticket’s mission is to provide an ethical alternative to buy and sell event tickets.”

Citizen Ticket said it plans to roll out the platform across the entertainment industry and is already in talks with theatre companies.

What is blockchain?

  • Blockchain is a method of recording data via the internet
  • It creates a digital ledger that is public and can be distributed across a network
  • All information to do with a transaction is logged, including data, time, amount and participant
  • Every transaction is public within the network and means that information for every sale is verifiable
  • Once updated, the ledger cannot be altered, only added to
  • If any user attempts to corrupt a transaction, the computers creating the chain will identify it immediately and refuse to incorporate the transaction into the blockchain
  • Blockchain is a core component of digital currency Bitcoin, serving as the public ledger for all transactions