Singapore start-up to take on fake concert tickets after tackling bogus Covid-19 certs

SINGAPORE – A local start-up that allowed healthcare firms to issue tamper-proof memos essential for travel during the Covid-19 pandemic now wants to take on the world of fake concert tickets and academic certificates.

In late March, Accredify received a shot in the arm with funding from the venture firm of American digital identity specialist Okta. The undisclosed sum from Okta Venture will pave the way for Accredify to expand globally, including reaching Okta’s base of 18,000 enterprise customers, with its new mission.

The five-year-old Singapore company is making a pitch for its technology to fight everyday scams through the issue of verifiable credentials, first used during the pandemic to inspire confidence in cross-border travel.

“One of the next steps for us is to solve the big problems that touch citizens’ lives: To prevent scams and fraud in e-commerce, ticketing and news dissemination,” Mr Quah Zheng Wei, co-founder and chief executive officer of Accredify, told The Straits Times.

In 2021, Accredify enabled healthcare providers here, including Parkway Laboratories and Raffles Medical Group, to issue tamper-resistant digital health memos after fake ones were spotted in Europe.

These memos – whose authenticity can be easily verified through QR code scanning – were needed to safely restart travel and facilitate migrant workers’ re-entry into the workforce following Covid-19 outbreaks in their dormitories.

Accredify’s technology is based on blockchain, a searchable digital ledger. Its key selling point is that transaction information recorded on the blockchain cannot be forged, allowing ownership of, say, a digital work of art or non-fungible token (NFT), to be easily transferred and validated.

Similarly, the ownership of digital goods such as concert tickets can be encrypted in a blockchain, and validated when resold. Scammers will not be able to sell what they do not have, or multiple copies of the same ticket.

It is a nifty tool for e-commerce platforms, healthcare providers, academic institutions, traders and governments to provide public assurance through the issuing of verifiable documents and credentials. 

The Singapore police said that between Jan 1 and March 12 in 2024, at least 1,551 victims had fallen prey to e-commerce scams involving concert tickets, with total losses amounting to at least $737,000. The bulk of these tickets were for Taylor Swift’s best-selling Eras tour in Singapore from March 2 to 9.

Popular e-marketplace Carousell could not control scammers preying on desperate fans in the resale market on its platform. In an unprecedented move on Feb 23, Carousell suspended the American pop star’s concert ticket sales across its six markets in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

“Carousell didn’t have to resort to such an extreme measure,” said Mr Quah, whose current clients are mainly in the healthcare and education sectors.

London-based ticketing software start-up Dice is a keen rival in the concert ticketing space. Dice provides e-tickets that must be activated in-app prior to being scanned. The QR codes are activated only two hours before the event. Dice’s investors include SoftBank Vision Fund, Nest co-founder and iPod inventor Tony Fadell, as well as French billionaire entrepreneur Xavier Niel.

“Trust is a universal problem,” said Mr Ben Goodman, senior vice-president and general manager of Okta Asia-Pacific and Japan.

He noted that Accredify’s tools are a natural extension of Okta’s platform-agnostic developer tools that support authorisation and authentication. “Verifiable credentials logically then can become a vital component of authentication going forward,” he said.

The Series A extension by Okta Venture comes after Accredify secured US$7 million (S$9.4 million) in financing in April 2023, co-led by iGlobe Partners and SIG Venture Capital, with participation from Pavilion Capital and Qualgro.


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