On Thursday 19th July, my colleague, Ryan Curtis-Johnson and I headed over to One Wimpole Street to learn about Blockchain and how this burgeoning technology from the world of Crypto-Currency might have applications in the event industry today. As usual, Event Huddle assembled an insightful expert panel to try and help those less au fait with Blockchain understand how this often-mentioned technology could become of their daily event Landscape.
Colin Palmer, Technical Director at Bit Ticket and Steve Machin, pioneer of the live entertainment and ticketing sector looked at the tech from a ticketing perspective; a real and apparent example of how Blockchain can be deployed in events. Kristian Keep, Head of Innovation at Acrotrend, broached the subject of GDPR and how blockchain might help us in analytics. Rhian Lewis, a software engineer and the co-founder of London Women in Bitcoin, provided the all-important frame of reference; Blockchain in its natural environment, the world of cryptocurrency. Kevin Jackson, Founder TEITM, provided the links in the chain as our moderator.
New Kids on the Blockchain
As good a place as any to start, Rhian gave an effortless explanation of the operation of Blockchain in cryptocurrencies. Blockchain tech is essential for Cryptocurrency to function. Unlike your standard pounds, euros and dollars, cryptocurrency has no nation, no authority to verify its validity and that’s where the blocks come in. Blockchain is effectively a digital ledger where the transactions of digital currency are recorded and verified across multiple blocks openly and publicly. This means that it is safe by design, democratic and – as things stand – immune to fraud. It was from here we could start to unravel the possible applications in events.
Our two ticketing experts laid out how this same principle using blocks and verification to manage ticket buying processes could drastically reduce abuse of ticketing systems – which we all know has been a bugbear of that specific part of the events industry. By setting multiple ‘rules’ on your ‘object’ (the ticket) you can make sure that multiple people do not buy above their allocation and have a quickly verifiable chain of events should any mishaps occur. A prescient uses of the tech in our industry but as not all #eventprofs in room operate ticket events on a regular basis, questions remained about whether this tech would signify a true revolution in events.
You can Never Break the Chain
Kristian alluded to some wider applications for the tech in events. With GDPR on the horizon, Blockchain ticks a series of major boxes in the battle to be compliant. It is safe by design and the records that are kept are indelible. While that sounds counterintuitive with the advent of ‘right to be forgotten’, what it means is that you will be protected against the number one cause of data breaches; human error. The digital ledger removes any doubt about opt-in / opt-out and you have the chain to back you up unequivocally. It will, of course, expose you if you’ve been found to have contravened the legislation but we’re all GDPR ready, right? It was also great to hear Kristian talk about his approach to blockchain in the data analytics world which – again – we can expect to see transparency over what and why we capture data like never before and ultimately be able to use it to continue our progress to personalised comms surrounding events.
The inherent qualities of Blockchain revealed by our panels were trust, honesty, digital transparency and control over data. Reading that alone should tell you that the tech has a bright future in not just our industry but the wider world as well. However, it will be up to each individual agency and/or organisation to determine exactly what the ledger can do for you and why it would be worth the cost to replace existing systems. As it stands, Blockchain is vital to cryptocurrency, with the various coins effectively ceasing to exist. Ultimately, if it proves to be a more seamless way of dealing with the minefield of GDPR and event data, it won’t be long before we see the industry make a significant switch to Blockchain. Then we can start calling it a revolution.
Have a watch of the full session:
Callum Gill – Head of Insight & Innovation at drp