Crypto, NFT markets are troubled, but sports still look to blockchain ticketing, fan experience solutions
“Credenza” is both a word most commonly used by mothers-in-law and the name of Sandy Khaundits blockchain fan experience company.
Credenzas is often associated with storage; where is that bowl in which you drop your car keys when you get home? In this case Khaunds Credenza stores a person’s identity, as well as assets, actions and attributes specific to his or her unique identity, a kind of “live CRM” as he referred to it, that can help sports teams serve fans better and more efficiently.
Khaund’s project is one of the blockchain-powered efforts that comes with the backdrop of crypto winter and the NFT market’s decline in interest, relevance and value – it was widely reported that the NFT market had lost 97% of its value by early 2022 last winter. Fan experience-related blockchain efforts centered around universal identity, such as Credenza, and blockchain ticketing projects remain of interest to the sports world despite technology’s sudden fall into the background and AI’s equally sudden seizure of the zeitgeist. Professional Fighters League, Formula one and SI tickets have all recently launched NFT ticket programs on blockchains.
“I said this 12 months ago, six months ago, and I’ll say it again: I’ve never been more optimistic about blockchain,” said Khaund, who sold his blockchain ticketing company. Upgraded to Ticketmaster in 2018. “The public love we saw two years ago was unsustainable, and I think we all knew it.”
With almost no fanfare, Khaund has created Credenza, which has raised about $2 million in total from investors. The main product, Passportacts as connective tissue across all digital and real-world fan experience touchpoints such as ticketing, concessions, merchandise, sports betting and ingress.
Scanning a Credenza pass provides a profile of a fan’s actions, possessions and attributes.
Passport, which goes on Polygon blockchain, gives each fan a blockchain address and QR code unique to them that identifies all the stored value they have accumulated as a fan, whether it’s assets (a voucher from a sponsor or exclusive offer from the team), actions (their purchase history or attendance at away games), or attributes (are they season ticket holders? Is it their birthday?).
To For Passport to be most effective, it would require integration with the team’s various partners, be it online stores, concessionaires or points of sale, to gather the data to create the complete profile of each fan. It only takes five lines of Java code to make any website, including a team’s or league’s, Passport-enabled. And any (team-issued) mobile phone, scanner or point-of-sale device can be turned into a Passport QR code scanner, allowing the device to instantly know the relevant information about the fan in question and react accordingly. Khaund is working with the St. Louis Blues to distribute Passport for the 2023-24 NHL season.
“It is live CRM,” he said. “That’s what you do online, but now you’re bringing it live.”
Improvement something that already exists is also the modus operandi for Real ticketswhich is not building a new ticketing company powered by blockchain, but rather creating an enforcement engine for rights holders that can be coded into the ticket at creation and integrated into any ticketing system.
True Tickets has been adding blockchain technology to tickets for five years. Willing experiments have been found in the theater and performing arts industry, an event sector not dominated by a single major ticket company. True Tickets collaborates with Tessitura, which handles the actual ticket sales; True Tickets’ role is to add rules – determined by the theaters and promoters – to the tickets that Tessitura sells. In some cases, that includes “ethical resale” or coding a contingent transfer fee, critical as the nonprofit art community has long rejected the secondary market, according to Matt Zarracinaco-founder and CEO of True Tickets.
Zarracina’s the company has had a number of talks with sports teams and leagues, especially the latter. They are often interested in whether True Tickets can offer a common rules system that is used across multiple ticket providers for one league. No recipients yet.
Fan experience blockchain solutions like Passport aim to create a unified identity for a fan so teams can better know and serve them.
“It is the first time it has gone from theoretical to practical,” Zarracina said of the Tessitura deal. “A lot of blockchain and NFT, there’s always this vision of the future. But to achieve a vision of the future, you have to have something practical that you get into the market and see how it works. We want to learn from that and explore other possibilities and capabilities.”
One The result of the crypto winter seems to be increased pragmatism around blockchain, especially ticketing. Pet Berishaauthor of the Sporting Crypto Substack newsletter, recently questioned the intentions of the big ticket players interested in blockchain, while pointing out that blockchain tickets have still not been tested on a large scale in the sports world.
“Blockchain itself is not a singular technology, it’s actually made up of several other technologies,” Zarracina said, and some aspects of that technology will permeate whatever solution comes to market.
Thus, SI tickets would be another valuable test case to track. It is one of the largest sports-adjacent brands to launch blockchain ticketing with the Box Office product. Box Office runs on the Polygon blockchain and enables event organizers to create NFT tickets without going into the backend details of the technology. In this case, blockchain gives event organizers the ability to change the ticket (found in either the SI app or the fan’s digital wallets or crypto wallets), either its form or content or a number of other options, before, during or after an event.
“We think this will be on board for anyone who may have been intimidated by blockchain and the experience these markets have created,” said SI Tickets CEO David Lane.
Sport Illustrated sees great possibilities. SI Tickets is starting with small event organizers, but Lane said it wants to become a primary ticketing option for larger sports customers. Lane envisioned the Knicks winning an NBA championship and Knicks ticket holders immediately receiving a commemorative piece for SI magazine.
“We think there are opportunities out there, on the chain, for SI, and so we’re actively looking at those opportunities,” he said, “but as a whole, not just with what SI Tickets is doing.”