Indian Railways Introduces NFT Train Tickets

Photo - Indian Railways Introduces NFT Train Tickets
Indian authorities strive to stay competitive in the crypto market. Their efforts span several sectors, including blockchain-based state registries, a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) launch, and public metaverses. Indian Railways is now contributing to this technological push with its innovative offering.
On March 16, 2024, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) unveiled an innovative project: tickets for two new trains operating between Lucknow and Delhi will be available as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

From March 20 to April 2, India celebrates the annual Holi festival – a Hindu celebration of spring marked on the first full moon of March. This period sees an influx of tourists into India, and residents from remote areas head to Delhi to enjoy the festive shows, characterized by participants throwing colored powder and spraying colored water at each other. 

During this season, passengers of the popular Tejas Express trains 82501 and 82502 will not receive traditional paper tickets but unique NFTs instead.

This initiative is a collaboration with NFTtrace, a project that uses non-fungible tokens to innovate within institutional sectors. NFTtrace has developed a blockchain platform for the verification of railway ticket purchases and initiated smart contracts to oversee this process.

IRCTC shared this development on its official X account (formerly Twitter).
IRCTC points out that NFT tickets are more than mere digital souvenirs. They're designed to honor the rich history of Indian railways and embody the vibrant spirit of the Holi festival. 

The advantages of these tokenized tickets, as outlined by the corporation, include:

  1. Personalization: Tied specifically to their owners, making NFT tickets a more cherished possession for travelers.
  2. Easy Verification: The blockchain allows for simple authenticity checks by inspectors and the general public, ensuring the originality of tickets.
  3. Counterfeit Protection: Utilizing NFTs for ticket digitization addresses the rampant issue of fake tickets across India, offering a secure alternative.
  4. Enhanced Traveler Experience: IRCTC sees NFT tickets as part of its broader strategy to improve passengers' travel experiences.

In India, trains are a primary mode of transport, largely because many citizens do not own cars, making trains virtually public transport that offers free travel. The government subsidizes the commute for peasants working in cities from neighboring villages. 

Digital tickets, however, might not attract this demographic. Instead, the NFT ticket initiative is targeted mainly at tourists. 
European Visitors Frequently Surprised by Indian Trains. Source: Medium

European Visitors Frequently Surprised by Indian Trains. Source: Medium

IRCTC handles over 1.2 million ticket reservations daily, indicating significant potential for project expansion. The Railway Corporation considers this initiative a pilot; should it find favor among passengers, NFT tickets could evolve from a festive novelty to a regular feature, enhancing the visibility and understanding of NFT technology.

India's proactive use of blockchain technology extends beyond ticketing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advocated for a national strategy to adopt emerging technologies, embracing progress. 

Blockchain's application is varied, including the storage of about 80 million verifiable government documents in systems managed by India's National Informatics Centre, spanning quality certificates for food and drugs, property ownership documents, criminal records, and medical insurance certificates.

Furthermore, India's approach to cryptocurrencies is relatively open, with specific regulations for their oversight and plans to introduce a digital rupee, the CBDC.