An Edinburgh start-up is hoping to put an end to online ticket touts after developing a secure platform using blockchain technology that cannot be infiltrated by fraudsters.
Citizen Ticket is working with the Fringe by the Sea festival in August to deliver its technology to an audience of up to 30,000 after successful trials with a number smaller-scale events.
It means festivalgoers will be able to purchase tickets and keep them securely in a digital wallet; any re-sale that then takes place can only be done through a strict verification process.
Co-founder Phil Shaw-Stewart, an event organiser by background, said the motivation to create the platform was based on the “frustration” of events he had worked on being susceptible to touts.
He said: “We understood the growing problems faced by ticketing platforms who can go on to sites and bulk buy tickets in the hundreds or the thousands using ‘bots’. We got sick of this happening and wanted to create something that addressed the issue.
“The problem with existing technologies is that the end-to-end process cannot be tracked, and it can be replicated or counterfeited. With our technology, you can see on the blockchain exactly where it ticket is at all times, which guarantees its authenticity.”
“We’re event organisers by trade so we wanted to create an ethical ticketing platform,” he added.
Shaw-Stewart said he was pleased to be working with the Fringe by the Sea festival in North Berwick, which takes place between August 3-12 and features headliner Badly Drawn Boy.
The company has worked on events such as the Scottish Rugby 7s and with smaller-scale music events at Edinburgh’s Summerhall, but nothing on the scale of the Fringe by the Sea festival.
During that time the technology was able to identify three fraudulent tickets at the Scottish Rugby 7s, allowing organisers to refuse entry accordingly.
He said: “We’re slowly stepping up and this is our first event of this size, but we’re confident the technology can work at scale.”
Although the platform is Citizen Ticket, the product is called BitTicket – which is a bespoke software platform based on the Ethereum blockchain network.
Shaw-Stewart, who started the company with fellow founder Harry Boisseau (the pair were later joined by third director, Chief Technology Officer Colin Palmer), said they had initially considered going against the big players in the ticket platform world, including the likes of Ticket Master and Eventbrite.
The realisation soon dawned on the team, which is divided between Edinburgh and London, that convincing the whole events industry to use its platform might be beyond them, and so decided to focus on providing the technology as a ‘service’ to existing ticket sellers.
Although the end-user platform in Citizen Ticket, Shaw-Stewart says the underlying BitTicket technology has, in fact, greater potential as a partner for the ticketing platforms.
The company is actively involved in discussions with a number of them, Shaw-Stewart added, and he admitted they would be “foolish” not to consider any offers, if they were made.
“Citizen Ticket is already up and running and we have big ambitions for the technology. We have had some interest but right now our focus is on that,” he says.