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Tickets without barcodes: Concert venues experiment with new systems

Tickets without barcodes: Concert venues experiment with new systems
From CBC - March 19, 2018

When fans score tickets for events at the Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg in the future, they might notice the absence of a familiar feature: that ubiquitous zebra-styled inventory tracker bar that adorns almost every retail product imaginable.

The theatre's operator, True North Sports and Entertainment, is testing a new Ticketmaster system that gives venues the option to omit barcodes that would usually be scanned to validate a ticket's authenticity and grant entry to a concert or sporting event.

It could be an early sign that the days of the barcode are numbered as technological improvements allow companies to replace them with more secure digital tickets with codes embedded in a fan's phone or a Wi-Fi connected wristband that lets them track consumers for both security and data-collection purposes.

Invented in the 1970s, the barcode was first used to purchase a 67-cent pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum, but was quickly adopted in many industries after companies realized it could expedite purchases and assist in tracking inventory.

Scannable wristbands, cashierlessstores

Businesses that are already moving on from the barcode range from Montreal's Osheaga music festival, which prefers scannable wristbands, to Amazon's new, cashierless store in Seattle that uses various sensors to detect products customers have in their carts and automatically charge their accounts.

One U.K. retail expert recently gave the technology a shelf life of only another five to 10 years.

"The barcode's going to go away," TicketmasterCEO Michael Rapino reportedly told an audience at a Goldman Sachs investor conference last fall, though he did not offer a timeline for the barcode's demise.

His company has stayed fairly quiet about its experiments with ditching the barcode through Ticketmaster Presencea program that allows venues to let fans scan e-tickets embedded with a digital token instead of a barcode and stored on their phone or smartwatch at self-service terminals to gain entry to events.

The entertainment giant would not name what Canadian venues or artists are looking to experiment with cutting the barcode beyond the Burton Cummings Theatre, which True North Sports and Entertainment's vice-president of communicationsRob Woznysaid has yet to offer a barcodeless show.

So far Ticketmaster said 70 venues, including the 25,500-person capacity Orlando City Stadium, have used Presence in North America and more are likely to toy with the program this year as it rolls out further.

With Presence 'there has been zero instances of fraud so far and the tech is succeeding in getting fans into venues to see their favourite live events faster and more efficiently than ever.' - Justin Burleigh, Ticketmaster's executive vice-president of product

Ticketmaster started pushing Presence amid its ongoing crusade against bots that buy up large portions of tickets within seconds after they go on sale online and fraudsters that dupe ticket buyers in the resale market by photocopying a ticket numerous times and reselling it to unsuspecting fans who are then denied entry at the door.

"That's bad for everyone involvedvenues, clubs, artists,and especially the fans," Justin Burleigh, Ticketmaster's executive vice-president of product, said in an email.

A digital smartphone ticket is supposed to be more difficult to resell on sites and especially outside of concert venues.

Cutting costs

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