Technology / 09.02.18
Nothing Is Blocking Blockchain's Future in Ticketing, Says Tracer Co-Founder
Jorge Díaz Largo is CEO and co-founder of Tracer, a ticketing solution that leverages blockchain technology to enable ticket companies and event promoters to define the rules for their tickets — including whether a ticket can be re-sold, the maximum price for which it can be re-sold and so forth. Thanks to Tracer's technology, the performer or the promoter now has the ability to trace a ticket's journey and the customer's data, no matter where a ticket is sold. Fans, meanwhile, no longer have to be concerned about purchasing fraudulent tickets.
Access sat down with Largo to discuss Tracer, its blockchain-based "smart ticket," and what future innovations may be on the horizon.
Access: Could you provide our readers with a brief bio of yourself and an overview of Tracer?
Jorge Díaz Largo (JDL): Certainly. Before founding Tracer, I was vice president of marketing and product at Ticketbis, a secondary ticketing platform that we scaled to $100 million in annual revenue and 400 employees across 48 countries [and was sold to eBay in May 2016].
Many years later, the ticketing industry still hasn't changed. It's outdated technologically, dominated by scalpers and unaware of data. It's time to change that. At Tracer, we use technology to put control in the hands of promoters and teams to capture maximum value at every touch point in the fan experience.
Access: Your company recently launched a new, blockchain-based "smart ticket." How does it help prevent ticket scalpers from profiting from ticket resales?
JDL: First, by linking every ticket to a real phone number. If we want to stop scalpers, we need to know who is the real person behind the ticket. In today's world, our phone number is almost our ID, and we use that to identify every real customer. Second, by using blockchain to register all the information. We want to allow promoters and teams to sell in multiple channels, and we need to provide a safe way to do that. With blockchain, no one cheats the system and sells a ticket to a scalper. Third, with a dynamic QR code that changes every 10 seconds and, therefore, is impossible to copy.
Access: One of the goals of Tracer's technology is to open up new sales channels, with transactions now able to happen everywhere and be settled in an automated way. Can you expand on this?
JDL: If we want to reinvent ticketing, we have to focus on what's happening behind the scenes. Concerts take months to be settled, with Excel files going back and forth in emails. That inefficiency can be solved through blockchain. The rules for the distribution of funds — or part of them — will be recorded in the smart contract and will be followed automatically. Because it is a real contract approved by all parties and controlled by the blockchain, there is no need for most of the manual accounting work anymore.
Access: For the first time ever, Tracer's Smart Ticket was used at the Cambridge Club Festival in the United Kingdom to issue and process tickets on the blockchain. How did that go? What was the biggest takeaway? Were they any glitches?
JDL: It worked perfectly. Ironically, the biggest challenge we had was not introducing something as complex as blockchain, but having 100 percent of the tickets digital and mobile. Without that, we can't stop scalpers. We were afraid that some people would bring printed screenshots, but it didn't happen. And this wasn't a teenager festival, but a festival for families. There were many attendees well over 60, and they happily had their tickets in their phone. When we asked them, they found it much more convenient. People are ready!
Access: The initial target markets are Europe and Latin America. Why is that?
JDL: We believe Latin America, in particular, is the perfect region to start. It is an underserved market with outdated technologies. Big global companies have "forgotten" the region and are now looking at it. But doing business in Latin America is not always straightforward. Fortunately, we have experience launching a ticketing business there with our previous company, and we can leverage that to build the first cross-country ticketing company in the region.
Access: How much does the public still have to be educated about blockchain in order for the technology to gain more widespread use and acceptance?
JDL: I don't believe the general public needs to know a lot about blockchain, in the same way they don't ask about a programming language. In the business world, though, blockchain needs to be prove that it is ready to be scaled. We had to spend many hours [figuring out] how to be able to manage thousands of transactions per minute, and we can't wait to show it. So, it's more about acceptance in the business world rather than for the general public.
Access: How do see it impacting the ticketing industry, in general, moving forward?
JDL: I think there are many ways in which blockchain can be used. In the near future, attendees could receive tokens that they could use to buy food, drink or merchandise. Looking further, they could even participate in the funding of a tour and in the profits of it.
Access: Final thoughts. If we were to chat a year from now, what would constitute success for you? Where do you want Tracer to be with this in 12 months?
JDL: I believe we can be in a fantastic position in Latin America in 12 months and use that adoption to evolve our product. At the end of the day, we see ourselves as a technology company. Taking big steps forward in technology will be the basis for a long-term success.
Dive deep into blockchain at the INTIX 40th Annual Conference in Texas on Jan. 29-31, 2019. Matthew Zarracina, co-founder and CEO of True Tickets, will deliver "Demystifying Blockchain — Impacts for the User Experience and Ticketing Professional," and a panel of industry leaders will give their thoughts on the new technology in "Decentralized: How Blockchain Technology and Open-Source Software will Revolutionize the Ticketing Industry."
Tags: Reselling, Concessions, Bots, Blockchain, Secondary Ticketing