Ticketmaster is turning to new technology to help fight ticket fraud.
The ticketing giant today unveiled its next-generation digital tickets, “SafeTix,” which are tied to the ticket holder’s mobile device through an encrypted barcode that automatically refreshes every few seconds. The tickets will also support NFC technology, allowing fans to enter venues through a “tap and go” experience.
The company says ticket holders will later this year be able to add their contactless ticket to Apple Wallet, so they can enter a venue with their iPhone or Apple Watch. This will also involve the use of proximity-based technology which automatically selects the tickets when the phone is held near the ticket reader.
Apple and Ticketmaster already unveiled SafeTix this month during the fintech conference Transact, Ticketmaster says. SafeTix, it says, is the first time it has ever rolled out NFC-based ticketing at scale.
The combination of new technologies is meant to cut down on ticket fraud.
Today, unscrupulous resellers take screenshots or photocopies of tickets that they then sell multiple times over to unsuspecting victims. Because the barcodes now automatically refresh, a saved photo won’t work.
In practice, however, this may inconvenience some people who previously enjoyed the ease of screenshotting the ticket, then sending it to a friend — something that’s a lot faster than using the transfer feature on Ticketmaster’s website and in its app.
The change could also complicate things at venue check-in as users fumble with their phones to figure out how their new passes work — at least in the near-term.
For fans, the change means they’ll have to transfer tickets to friends, or anyone else they’re selling a ticket to, using the recipient’s phone number or email address. As a result, Ticketmaster gains visibility into the custody chain of each ticket, it notes. And that data can then be turned over to event owners, who will now have information about both the original ticket owner and the actual attendee, as well as anyone else who had access to the ticket.
This also means venues and event owners can target attendees with other offers and information about the event — like food, beverage or merchandise deals or venue-specific instructions. These are the fans they couldn’t have necessarily reached in the past, had the fan entered the venue using only a screenshot on their phone, for instance, or a paper ticket. The event or venue owner can even choose to follow up with the fan after the event wrapped, Ticketmaster says.
“Because a new ticket is issued every time there’s a transfer or sale, event owners have the ability to develop a unique relationship with each fan, leading to in-venue personalization and future communication while increasing their known fanbase,” explained Justin Burleigh, Chief Product Officer of Ticketmaster, North America, in a statement about the launch. “SafeTix will allow fans to arrive at a show or game with confidence that their tickets are always 100 percent authentic and will dramatically reduce the amount of ticket fraud event owners are dealing with on event day,” he added.
SafeTix aren’t immediately available everywhere, but are instead rolling out to specific venues and events to start. Initially, they’ll be used across NFL stadiums for the 2019 season and across a variety of touring artists’ acts.
They’ll later be available at Ticketmaster’s “Presence-enabled” venues — today that includes 300 venues across the U.S. where proximity-based technologies like NFC, RFID, and audio are used.
SafeTix is only one way that Ticketmaster is leveraging technology at live events. The company is also now using facial recognition tools from Blink Identity, which it also invested in, at some venues. And Ticketmaster last fall acquired blockchain ticketing company Upgraded with an eye towards future enhancements of identity-based ticketing.
The transition to SafeTix shouldn’t be a major change for NFL game fans, however. Ticketmaster said that in 2018, 97 percent of fans entered venues using Ticketmaster technology during the 2018 season. It expects Ticketmaster Presence to be installed at over 350 venues in 2019.
Ticketmaster says SafeTix’s launch will not impact ticket fees.