The sport industry is abuzz with how blockchain can be harnessed to breed efficiencies and positive fan sentiment. Teams like the Dallas Mavericks have announced they will accept cryptocurrencies as payment for tickets as early as next season. As use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency become more acceptable in the sport industry, the looming question is how far into the industry will they reach?
Global consulting firm, Deloitte, recently published its annual report on key sports trends. The report argued, “digital coin taking over the world,” will be one of the top trends impacting the sport industry in 2018.
“Somebody is going to use blockchain technology to do something in the sport space that most people thought wasn’t possible before, or everyone thought should exist but didn’t for some reason,” Deloitte Consulting LLP’s U.S. sports leader, Pete Giorgio, projected.
Finding that blockchain and cryptocurrencies, “have the potential to disrupt the sports industry through their ability to mitigate risk, create new sources of value and enable new secure transfers of information,” Giorgio sees ticketing as one of the key places the technology will impact the industry.
“The world of ticketing is this funny world where you used to have a piece of paper and now you have an app on your phone, but it’s very proprietary,” he remarked. “When you think about how secondary ticketing is exchanged, there is no real way for fans to know where the ticket came from and for teams to know how the ticket changed hands.”
For Giorgio, blockchain technology provides a potential solution to the transmission of fraudulent tickets throughout the sport industry.
“Blockchain is a shared public ledger of some bit of information,” he noted. “In the ticketing world, blockchain can be used to create a shared ledger of who owns tickets. It allows for the more open and seamless exchange of tickets than is possible today, where fans have to work through secondary ticketing companies. A more public market can be created for tickets that would probably benefit everyone except the ticket brokers.”
While Giorgio is bullish on the impact blockchain technology can have on the sport industry, he’s less inclined to bet on cryptocurrencies playing a big role in it.
“I don’t know if there’s a huge future for Bitcoin in sports,” he said. “It will depend on Bitcoin’s integration into the point of sale systems.”
Giorgio does have a sense, though, on how teams could begin the integration of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into their revenue generating mechanisms. His idea centers on a system modeled after loyalty rewards programs that are frequently used by a number of American retailers.
“Effectively what loyalty points are is just another form of currency that can only be exchanged with the provider,” Giorgio noted. “Imagine a world where those points were part of a broader currency that is managed the same way as Bitcoin and allowed fans to do interesting things across a league or sport.”
While Giorgio isn’t absolutely certain as to where the sports industry will land as it relates to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, he knows that technological advances will continue playing a central role in ticketing.
“A confluence of things ranging from the millennial generation having different buying patterns to technological advances in digital ticketing means teams are going away from the original ticketing model,” he said. “What you’re seeing is a lot of new ideas in the ticketing space that are pretty interesting.”