IRCTC India pioneers NFT tickets for the vibrant Holi festival trains

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For the Hindu festival of Holi, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has introduced nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as tickets. 

These NFTs will be issued to passengers on the newly launched semi-high-speed Tejas Express trains 82501 and 82502 traveling to Delhi from March 20th to April 2nd. This initiative aims to offer travelers a unique experience by integrating the traditional aspects of the festival with modern digital technology.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) describes the introduction of NFT tickets as a tribute to the “cultural heritage” of Lucknow and Delhi. These tickets, far from being mere “digital souvenirs,” will showcase “elaborate sketches” that illuminate the cities’ rich history and vibrant culture. Leveraging blockchain technology allows these NFTs to be authenticated by both authorities and the public, thus “ensuring authenticity” and bolstering the ticketing process’s security.

This initiative is part of a broader effort by Indian Railways to explore and implement blockchain technology in its operations. The collaboration with NFTtrace, a digitization platform, will enable the secure recording of ticket purchases on the Hyperledger blockchain. Smart contracts will be utilized to ensure the traceability and authenticity of these digital tickets.

While the IRCTC has showcased a preview of the NFTs on its official X handle, it has yet to confirm whether these digital tickets will be complimentary for all ticket buyers or if they will incur an additional cost. The corporation has also hinted at potential offers from selected brands and other benefits, details of which remain undisclosed.

The initiative has been lauded by industry experts nationwide. Sumit Gupta, co-founder of the Indian crypto exchange CoinDCX, stated that this move is a great way to boost the adoption of Virtual Digital Assets in India.

This isn’t the IRCTC’s first foray into the world of blockchain collectibles. Earlier this year, the IRCTC introduced NFT tickets for journeys to Ayodhya, branding them as valuable keepsakes rather than mere travel documents.

The adoption of NFTs for ticketing by Indian Railways could pave the way for widespread use of this technology, given that over 1.2 million tickets are booked daily through IRCTC. This move is also expected to mitigate common issues such as ticket forgery and misplacement.

This development comes amidst the nation’s focus on the digital rupee, the nation’s Central bank digital currency. Announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on February 8, the digital rupee is designed to be programmable and operable in offline environments, which is anticipated to enhance the accessibility and utility of digital currency across the country.

While the nation has kept cryptocurrencies on the sidelines, Indian investors may soon have the opportunity to engage with U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) through Mudrex, a California-based crypto investment platform. Mudrex plans to introduce offerings from BlackRock, Fidelity, Franklin Templeton, and Vanguard in its initial phase, signaling a significant step toward integrating cryptocurrency investments into the mainstream financial ecosystem in India.

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