Smartphones proving just the ticket for concerts and travel

  • TECH
  • Monday, 17 Feb 2014

Over the next five years, over 34 billion virtual tickets will be sent to mobile device screens. 

Virtual tickets might seem virtually obvious, but not all new uses for smartphones and tablets have managed to catch on. 

Very few people are prepared to replace their credit or debit cards with their handsets at the moment, for example. However, when it comes to buying tickets, be it for the cinema, a rock concert or a last-minute flight, use is exploding and the growth is expected to continue over the coming years. 

According to ABI Research, the reason why over 34 billion tickets will be sent to handsets rather than physical mailboxes over the next five years is because there is no single technology that facilitates the service. 

Tickets can be QR Codes, which appear on the screen and are scanned like a paper ticket; an NFC signal; or even a text message. And because of that, companies have found it simple to integrate digital tickets into their services. 

ABI says that of the tickets delivered over the 2014-2019 time frame, QR codes will represent 48% of all tickets, while NFC — which was once hailed as a revolutionary technology that would replace everything from physical wallets to door keys — will only account for 30%. 

NFC or near field communication, enables a secure connection to be momentarily established between two devices when they come into physical contact with each other. 

The majority of new Android handsets support the technology and when Google first launched its Google Wallet Service in 2011, NFC was a key component. Consumers would launch the wallet app and then touch the smartphone on the point of sales terminal, rather than swiping a credit card to make a transaction. 

Take-up has been so weak that Google has since dropped the NFC component of the service. NFC's cause has also been damaged by Apple's decision not to support the technology in any way on any of its mobile devices, favoring Bluetooth and now Bluetooth Smart instead. 

Research analyst Phil Sealy comments, "Moving forward it will be the integration of added value services, both from a user and service provider point of view which will spur on additional market growth. Added value enablement is not limited to one singular technology type with QR codes, mobile wallets, NFC and dedicated apps all able to expand offerings and provide platforms from which added value can be enabled. 

"It will be interesting to see how beacons and Bluetooth Smart are built into the mix of technologies as they are able to support payment, LBS and offers along and could be adapted to ticketing as well." 

By beacons, Sealy is referring primarily to Apple's new iBeacon technology (revealed in 2013) that enables companies to communicate wirelessly with consumers carrying iPhones in order to push them special offers and reductions.  

It also has the potential to automatically take payments for goods or recognise a handset as containing a digital ticket — meaning that its owner won't even need to take the device out of his or her pocket or bag. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2014  

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