Cultural tourism is a big segment of the wider travel and tourism industry. While large online players like TripAdvisor provide a huge amount of information for travellers about museums, landmarks, and historical sites, there is still a need for innovation in the space.
For example, the EU has a working group for digitally capturing, preserving, and exploring cultural heritage through new technologies. Austrian startup Cultural Places believes it has an answer by bringing cultural heritage and blockchain technology together. It wants to reinvent every aspect of the cultural industry, from ticketing to fundraising.
At its core, Cultural Places is a social network for artists, curators, and patrons, built by Oroundo, whose founders developed the concept over the last three years, which is creating a cultural ecosystem connecting customers and suppliers.
The first version of the app has already been deployed with more than 30 institutions and landmarks including the Stephansdom cathedral in Vienna and the Borobudur Buddhist temple in Indonesia.
But now it is moving on to its next phase – the Cultural Coin. The token is the platform’s dedicated cryptocurrency for purchasing tickets to museums and theatres or supporting galleries and exhibitions. Cultural Places will be running an ICO to raise financing for further development and deployment of the platform. Long term, the founders envision Cultural Places as the go-to platform for discovering and booking trips.
Traditional ticket booking is dogged by high fees, sometimes up to 30 percent, not to mention the high levels of fraud and ticket touting on the secondary market.
On Cultural Places, tickets are handled via smart contracts on Ethereum, which removes the need for intermediaries. Smart contracts also allow for sharing and reselling of tickets to avoid anyone being ripped off. Customers get reasonably priced tickets and artists know that their tickets are being sold to actual fans rather than ticket touts.
This has been a massive pain point for ticketing across numerous industries and several startups are trying to solve it with the blockchain but Cultural Places is one of the first to design a blockchain solution specifically for this industry.
Social network & crowdfunding
Cultural Places aims to be all-encompassing. It will be a social network for travellers and culture buffs where users can build connections with others that have similar interests and shop on marketplaces for physical and digital goods.
The platform helps institutions to collect and analyse user data to refine and hone the content they share to users. Furthermore, this data will inform more precise advertising compared with other social networks.
Cultural institutions, like museums, will be able to build offerings using Cultural Places’ API and receive payments using the Cultural Coin cryptocurrency. Beyond that, the platform allows institutions and bodies to digitally represent and spread awareness around their work.
All content in the app is created by the institutions themselves so it’s always up to date and accurate. Museums for example are already able to integrate beacon and NFC technology in their buildings with the app to act as a walking tour guide when you’re actually at the location.
Furthermore, the crowdfunding feature will help cultural businesses and artists to raise funds in a transparent way amid an environment where cultural investments are under strain. Much like ticketing, the startup claims that the crowdfunding process will be more transparent for all parties. This may be contributing to the costs of running an exhibition or helping to fund an archaeological dig.
Lower costs for the user
Cultural Places promotes its model of transparency and lower fees compared to incumbents in the marketplace but its chief business model is still revenue from transactions like ticket booking.
All purchases made on Cultural Places will incur a six percent fee. Of this, three percent goes to Cultural Places and other three percent is distributed across the community: One percent will be returned to the user in Cultural Coins as a sort of loyalty program. Another one percent of the transaction will be distributed to all Cultural Coin token holders as a reward for being part of the ecosystem. And a final one percent will be distributed to all institutions to encourage further participation.
The Cultural Coin
The company is holding an ICO for the Cultural Coin, which is supported by the digital marketing agency Digitalsunray. The Cultural Coin is a utility token that will be operational across the platform, though payments will also be available in fiat.
In the sale, 1.5 billion coins will be generated, with 900 million (60 percent) of these coins being made public in the sale, concluding on April 5 with all unsold tokens being destroyed. 150 million coins (10 percent) will go into a stability pool; 30 million (two percent) will be reserved for a bug bounty program; 75 million (five percent) will be distributed among existing Oroundo shareholders; and 345 million (23 percent) will be held for other early stakeholders, team members, and advisors in the project.
The sale is taking place in five phases: a pre-ICO and four separate sale phases with the value of the coin going up at each phase. In the pre-ICO, the coins are valued at €0.015 and will then increase to €0.018, €0.021, and €0.024 before finishing at €0.030 on the final phase.
Unlike many ICOs, the company has already launched a working product with iOS and Android versions of the app. The funds raised by the ICO will help further development of its blockchain features and growing its partner networks. It is working with startup Flashboys for the blockchain implementations. Flashboys is the creator of Wizzle and will list the Cultural Coin on its exchange. Cultural Places is also working with customer satisfaction rating company RateMyTate.
The startup will first integrate the blockchain ticketing system this year with a view to building out the payments and crowdfunding features in 2019.