Blockchain identity

How Kansas basketball can pioneer a blockchain use case

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Blockchain technology enables a safe and secure peer to peer (P2P) ecosystem to exchange value and host applications that expand outside the hype-driven realm of cryptocurrency — complimenting the trend of digitizing stores of value like coupons, gift cards and event tickets. Right now, blockchain has cured many of our inefficient back office tasks, but that doesn’t necessarily highlight its potential or help me explain the technology’s advantages to average retail consumers. I run into the absence of a local application to point to, while running the Blockchain Institute at the University of Kansas (KU).

On that same note, the average consumer may not have a practical application to reference outside of cryptocurrency while trying to understand how distributed ledger technology (DLT) can be used. Having a real-world app would provide a clear example of blockchain technology and distinguish we are not the “Bitcoin club”.

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Our basketball team at KU is a huge reason the Jayhawk is recognizable across the country. Inventor of the game, James Naismith, founded the rich tradition of Kansas basketball in 1898. Still today, attending games in Allen Fieldhouse is part of the college experience here in Lawrence. Technology is enabling inclusion for student participation in the legacy program. Mr. Naismith himself may have never dreamed of students transferring the valuable asset of basketball tickets to one another instantly, nonetheless from their fingertips.

Leveraging existing technologies

The secure and near instantaneous properties of blockchain technology incorporated into digital tickets, smartphone technology, and digital payment systems already in place, yield opportunities for positive differentiation. While it takes decades to be recognized as a premier basketball school, it takes a mere decision to become a leader in innovation.

The IBM Mobile Identity app already allows students to upload their plastic student ID card and store it digitally. Students are given access to certain buildings with this digital identity. The digital ID extracts only the relevant information necessary, cutting processing time and preserving a student’s digital liberty. It’s easy to imagine a high value digital asset, like a basketball ticket stored alongside this digital enabler of access.

Empowering and rewarding the student experience

To sit in the student section at any college basketball game, you first have to be a student (of course). Blockchain technology identifies only those eligible — students on a blockchain whitelist — automating the “show me your student ID” verification process. Placing and storing student tickets in the blockchain ecosystem ensures there won’t be people in the stands who aren’t allowed to be there.

It also opens up new opportunity for a university to reward students based on academics or other factors. For example, a smart contract code may automate ticket purchases for students that meet predefined criteria. Perhaps community service or volunteer time is converted to credit for event tickets or other student services. Dean’s Scholar students could receive tickets on a rotating basis, as long as their digital ID is verified in the “Dean’s Scholar” sub-criteria of the whitelist.

Making use of our technology toolbox

Payments are digital, and so are a majority of event tickets that anyone buys. Blockchain is the infrastructure allowing the marriage of existing technologies to become more secure and instantaneous. Practical applications layered on top of current capabilities drive innovation forward. This retail use case of integrating basketball tickets and blockchain technology provides a landmark in application and potential future uses — something I will point to next time someone asks me about this “Bitcoin club” we have here in Kansas.

From time to time, we invite industry thought leaders, academic experts and partners, to share their opinions and insights on current trends in blockchain to the Blockchain Pulse blog. While the opinions in these blog posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of IBM, this blog strives to welcome all points of view to the conversation.

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Student Director - Blockchain Institute at the University of Kansas

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