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Paperless ticketing moving toward NFC technology
by Andy Kowl
At least one U.S. concert and live event ticketing company is taking steps to bring real paperless tickets to the marketplace. For starters they have created reasonable facsimiles of paperless.
Veritix enables fans to control their own destiny in entering an event, without having to carry anything additional. Even though it does not yet match the way RFID Street normally covers paperless tickets—still, no paper ticket: you get into the show—hard to argue with that.
This is contrasted with market titan Ticketmaster’s “paperless tickets,” which won’t always get you into the event. In that system, the person purchasing the tickets uses her credit card for entry of her entire group. The rest of the party’s “paperless” means simply having no tickets at all—again, hard to argue! (see Giving Paperless a Bad Name)
“Fans want to get there and walk in,” said Sam Gerace, Veritix CEO. “People have to be able to give tickets to each other.”
In their system, any member of the party can be provided a ticket by the ticket-buyer. Through their product Flash Seats, each has the option of empowering their personal credit card, driver’s license or campus ID as the pass to get in.
Their research for sports venues showed that 100% of season ticket holders, with five games or more, has at least once arrived without a ticket.
This young firm is denting the Ticketmaster arena semi-monopoly by increasing their penetration into NBA, MLS and Division 1 school events. Paper tickets are still an option they offer.
Ticket IDs are transmitted to the venues prior to the event, not including any personal identifying information regarding each patron. They send an “irreversible hash” which can be read from magnetic strips or barcodes. Completing the package, Veritix lends out Motorola MC55, MC70 or Symbol PPT handheld readers to the venue.
That supplying of readers is representative of the state of theater and stadium technology. Venue managers are barely thinking about NFC or other RFID technology. They tell Gerace until about 25% of their audience adopts a technology, they see no reason to invest in it. Veritix is watching and planning for NFC, but likewise is waiting for the realities of market penetration.
NFC tickets moving to mobile phones
For a round-up of where paperless tickets are really at, we turned to NFC World. Editor Sarah Clark gave us some good examples to share them with you.
Last week France’s top sporting venue, the 81,000-seat Stade de France, home to international football and rugby, cup finals and concerts, signed a deal with network operator Orange that will see NFC ticketing introduced at the stadium from 2011. Ticket holders will be able to use their NFC phone as a virtual alternative to a standard paper.
France likes NFC so much the city of Nice is becoming an NFC showcase. This spring they began the first phase of NFC-based services, including train and bus tickets, along with information on routes and times using NFC phones.
With the support of three mobile operators, additional NFC-based services will be available at local museums, cultural events and on the campus of the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
In Germany, Frankfurt’s U-Bahn commuter services began a six month pilot test of NFC and 2D barcode-enabled smart posters this spring. RMV, the transit authority, already has a network of posters with QR Codes, the fast-rising 2-D barcode marketing technology. Scanned by phones, travelers can access travel information. Smart posters are located in each carriage. A full electronic sightseeing tour is also available.
Early last year the Austrian Federal Railways Group implementing paperless tickets from Mobilkom Austria. With their NFC solution, train tickets “are saved in the so-called ‘secure element’ of NFC-enabled mobile phones and can be validated by a simple touch,” said Mobilkom’s Hannes Ametsreiter.
Consumer NFC starts to catch on
There are numerous other paperless tickets and smart ticketing technologies being tried and used around the world. One recent report said twenty airlines are currently using or experimenting with ticketless boarding for passengers.
For as long as we have talked about cell phone ticketing, it was great to hear NFC World quote a Nokia executive last month who said all their phones, beginning in 2011, would contain NFC. Days later, the Finnish phone giant backed away from its commitment.
So, they qualified, NFC is not going to be available in all smartphones after all — and the NFC handsets that do get produced next year may not be available in all markets.
Japan and Korea are the current world leaders when it comes to providing consumers with mobile contactless payments services. Korean mobile network operator SK Telecom and Japanese operators KDDI and Softbank Mobile have signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the three companies working together to switch from their existing non-NFC standard mobile contactless services to an NFC standard approach.
Hopefully U.S. venues will find some way to start rockin’ with real paperless tickets before long.
Thanks to Sarah Clark for contributing her reporting to this article. For news on developments in NFC technology, see www.nearfieldcommunicationsworld.com