Technology / 05.24.23
SECUTIX’s Michael McDermott: A Chip Off the Ol’ Blockchain
It’s tempting to tout blockchain ticketing as “the wave of the future” in our industry. But Michael McDermott has been telling anyone who will listen that the technology is very much “the wave of today.” And thus began this journalist’s discussion with SECUTIX’s General Manager of the Americas, who freely admitted, “Hey, I’m still learning, too, man. So, come along and continue learning with me.”
First and foremost, for those unfamiliar … what is blockchain ticketing? McDermott’s answer: “Blockchain is an enabler to provide security and identification of ticket holders to sports teams, stadium owners, whoever is selling the ticket. They know with 99.99% accuracy that this ticket is a legitimate ticket holder because it is contracted on the blockchain. What that enables is a much higher value to fan engagement and control.”
New and emerging technology can prove intimidating for some. But McDermott urges those member-readers not to think of blockchain ticketing as “cutting-edge,” but rather an extension of user-friendly technologies already in wide use. “It’s a new world, but it’s not a new world,” he says. “Today, 90% of transactions are done on the mobile phone, some of the most recent surveys show. For most of us, our phone is our life. It has our pictures, our e-mails, our chats. It has credit-card processing and basically everything you need to live and perform life. All we’re doing is just putting the fan experience through a digital wallet in that same device. It’s frictionless to add that technology to 90% of the world’s population who are buying and consuming tickets to events.”
INTIX 2023 attendees may recall a workshop session put on by SECUTIX professionals titled "How to Leverage Blockchain Ticketing for Your Events." The presenters used several real-world cases to show how blockchain ticketing can solve such challenges as bots, surges in ticket requests, ticket scalpers, and improving the overall fan experience.
McDermott was especially excited about the various prospects for reaching out to fans via the blockchain. He says, “We can send real-time notifications to fans with their tickets through their digital wallet that says, ‘Hey, Gate 10 is wide open. Go there for faster access into the stadium.’ The technology helps facilitate people to have a more seamless entry into the stadium. Once they are in the stadium, we can put in-app promotions and sponsorships right within that digital wallet. You create the rules because all of the data is controlled within our platform. So, you might have a male, age 50, who lives in Denver. Send him one promotion. The other is someone who is 18, female, and lives in Colorado Springs. Send her a different one — one a beer sponsorship and one a Coke sponsorship. The goal is creating an ongoing level of communication and fan engagement before, during and even after an event.”
After the event? McDermott continues, “We have these NFT [non-fungible token] tickets. So, after the event, you get this digital asset that is created and sits in your digital wallet. It’s now stored not in this giant, decentralized world of watching that no one can find after these companies flame out. Now, the team owns those digital assets and has a digital asset library that is contained in their world. Those fans can now share in those assets that are now souvenir tickets. We’re looking at some great innovations as to how to commercialize those through some technology so that a marketplace is created for the customers and the teams or entertainers.”
Founded in 2002, SECUTIX is a global provider of a ticketing engagement platform that is used by some of the world’s largest sport clubs and stadiums, live entertainment businesses and top museums. SECUTIX manages the yearly sales of approximately 45 million tickets, with a clientele that includes Opéra National de Paris, the Union of European Football Associations (or UEFA), the Paléo Festival and more.
There have been plenty of lessons learned along the way. “There’s what we call the trilemma,” McDermott says. “You have scalability, you have decentralization, and you have security. If you follow what went on with the financial world, decentralization was a big piece of it, and security was a big piece of it. Well, guess what happens with stadium events that have 70,000 to 80,000 people trying to get in at once. You have this very powerful thing called ‘scalability’ that you have to manage in the real world. We chose scalability and security and put it on a private blockchain with us.”
In his current position, McDermott states that he is most excited about the opportunity of “disrupting a marketplace that has been established by old rules and old technology and creating a better experience for the fan, for the teams, for the artists that reduce the friction and the fees that are out there. So, fans pay less, and the teams and artists get a better identification and relationship with their fans. To be on the precipice of being able to unlock that here in the United States like we’ve done in Europe with this model is beyond exciting.”
He adds, “I think I’ve unlocked the box. I’m looking inside and saying, ‘I get it now!’ I’m just starting to talk to the U.S. market. I was given the Americas rather than just the U.S. So, I’ve spent the last 30 days figuring out Latin America, which is absolutely a fascinating marketplace.”
In turn, McDermott says SECUTIX’s clientele should be most excited about the level of control that blockchain ticketing affords them right from the very beginning: “You have sponsors, promoters, teams, VIPs, members, this entire ecosystem that is around and participating in an event. As the owner of our technology, you get to control how you deliver those tickets to those customers in a way that they want, and then you get to control how you price it, how it should go into the secondary market, so that you can ensure that your true fans are the ones getting the value and participation you’re looking for. When it goes on sale, you have the controls with strategy, with tools and technology to allow the real fan to buy the tickets and prevent the bots from getting in and disrupting. That is magic! And we have road-tested experience that enables us to say, ‘Here, we have operational centers that we set up for big events to help our customers go through that journey that first time. We are a side-by-side partner through that entire experience.”
But McDermott once again circled back to let this journalist know he is indeed still learning. And he still relies on counsel that was given to him years before he found his way to SECUTIX. He says, “Early on when I was in product management, I was told, ‘Seek to understand the two sides of what’s happening in the marketplace. My task is to understand the rights’ holders and the customers. When you start to fundamentally understand what the pains and gains are on both sides and you find a way to bridge the gap and solve those problems with what you can deliver with technology, it opens every door. Ask to understand … and then work to deliver!’”
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Tags: Blockchain , Technology