National

Facial recognition used against concert ticket scalping in Japan

Kyodo

When a 48-year-old male fan of girl band Momoiro Clover Z arrived at a recent concert, he looked into the camera of a facial-recognition device to get his pre-paid ticket.

“It’s really smooth. In the past, I used to wait for 30 minutes to an hour before I was able to get in,” said the man from Yokohama.

The concert was taking place at Seibu Prince Dome in Saitama Prefecture.

Operators of the group’s concerts introduced the technology in July 2014 to combat scalping.

At first, staff would check the concertgoers’ IDs. However, they found this time-consuming and the cause of long lines.

By installing the facial recognition system, they could prevent tickets from being resold and shorten the time for fans to go in.

The system is only available for members of the group’s fan club. Members must add their photo beforehand to a membership card equipped with an integrated circuit.

After paying for a ticket, they need only present their card to get into the venue.

The technology means only identifiable people become concertgoers, said Takaaki Tomisawa, an executive at Tapirs, the company that runs the concerts.

“It’ll be effective in society in future, including as a way to prevent terrorism,” Tomisawa said.

The technology was developed by NEC Corp. and is being tested for use at Narita airport.

Scalping is of serious concern in the industry.

On Aug. 23, four music industry groups as well as more than 100 individual artists and bands issued a statement protesting the resale of tickets for profit. They said it impacts badly on music lovers, with fans being priced out of concerts and sometimes receiving forged tickets.

The signatories included boy band group Arashi and solo performer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, together with more than 20 music event operators.

Concert operators prohibit the resale of tickets for business purposes.

The four music industry groups behind the statement said they will step up checks on ticket-holders’ identities via electronic ticketing and introduce a system whereby fans can sell their tickets — at face price.