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July 01, 2016

Contactless Ticketing to Support 300 Million Users by 2021

In its latest report, “Mobile & Online Ticketing: Transport, Events & NFC 2016-2020,” Juniper Research reports that approximately one in every five users of rail, buses, airlines, and attendees of entertainment venues could use contactless ticketing through their smartphones or wearable devices by 2021.

Nearly 300 million users could begin to rely on mobile payment and validation of their transportation and entertainment ticket stubs, Juniper noted. Although the primary use of smartphones and smart watches is expected to be validation – differentiated from purchase of those same tickets – both elements of the system are expected to find their way into the mobile arena. Patrons should become more comfortable with using their digital devices at regular intervals and for special events, even if they continue to pay for higher-value stubs (anything above the price of a bus ticket, the report notes) strictly from mobile phones or home computers.

Companies such as StubHub, American Airlines, and Expedia involved in entertainment and travel will reportedly focus on the smartphone as their devices of choice, it does not appear that they will leave wearables behind. The report’s author, Nitin Bhas, commented that one of the most important aspects of this development is the offering of multiple channels: offering customers ways to get what they prefer.

“This means that ticketing providers are presenting a multi-channel ticketing offering to their omni-channel customers, thereby providing a seamless and integrated experience,” Bhas said.

Airlines, according to Bhas and fellow researchers at Juniper, want near-field communications to replace paper ticket stubs in the boarding process. The industry, however, has moved slowly in its implementation of near-field communications. It could eventually make the processes of checking baggage and passing through security checks much easier by using the wealth of personal information customers can gather on their phones. Individual airlines’ apps could request the information they need when tickets are purchased through those same apps; then the apps should have and easier time working for individual flyers, not against them.

Many airlines still reportedly sit in testing stages with their electronic boarding passes, though some have jumped the gun to get an advantage on the competition. This TMC author, at least, saw it work with positive effect this past winter. Perhaps more the industry will be immersed in contactless ticketing and information sharing come the early years of the next decade.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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