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Meet Two College Kids Using NFTs to Fight $1b in Ticketing Fraud

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27 Oct 2021


From flights to music festivals, having a ticket gets you on a plane to your holiday destination or into a concert hall with your favorite bands. Tickets are representations of temporary, exclusive access rights to services and events.

As a rationing device, tickets are scarce by design. There are only so many passenger seats on an airplane and only so many people that can fit into an entertainment venue. Once sold out, people desperate for access must turn to resale markets in hopes of paying a premium to acquire a ticket for themselves.

All this makes ticketing a lucrative industry – especially for scalpers and fraudsters. Scalpers artificially inflate ticket prices using bots or networks of bidders to purchase tickets en masse to resell for profit, leaving genuine customers waiting in line empty-handed. Worse, resale tickets may not even be authentic. In 2018, as many as 11 million people were victims of concert ticket scams alone. Interpol estimated that the airline industry’s losses from the fraudulent online purchases of flight tickets had reached close to USD 1 billion per year.

Two college students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) think blockchain technology can change that. Krithik Roshan and Mihir Mohan hope that their startup, Access, can help event organizers combat fraud and prevent ticket scalping by issuing tickets as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

“Tokenized tickets can allow buyers to authenticate genuine tickets before they are purchased and make it possible to flag suspicious activities from fraudsters’ wallets. We can also flag scalpers whose wallets engage in the persistent reselling of tickets”, said Mihir.

The idea for Access was born when they both joined ZILHive. Through design sprints with the ZILHive team and advice from experienced professionals they met during the incubator, the pair saw how NFTs could transform ticketing. Senior executives at large nightclubs and integrated resorts they spoke with helped to expand the idea for Access beyond just fighting fraud and scalpers.

“Tickets can be so much more than just an access pass with an expiry date. Like a well-stamped passport of a frequent flier or fans flexing their concert tickets on social media – tickets can also serve as identity markers. That makes them excellent tools for building brand loyalty”, Mihir explained.

Despite the global pandemic, which has dealt a devastating blow to the travel, events, and entertainment industries, Krithik and Mihir remain undeterred. “Thankfully, we were not operating when the global shutdown hit. That has allowed us to focus on collaborating with potential customers to refine the product, so we are poised to launch when the situation recovers”, Mihir said. The team is currently developing the NFT infrastructure for a large-scale event with over 100,000 attendees, which will occur in late 2022.

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