Mobile Ticketing – Opportunities Unlimited


mobile-ticketContinuing with the theme of Mobile Transactions (Mobile Payments – Will the Consumers Adopt; Mobile Payments Business Models) from the last two posts, in this article, I am going to pick up Mobile Ticketing. Mobile ticketing is the process whereby consumers can order, pay for, obtain and validate tickets from any location and at any time using mobile phones. It is yet another illustration of horizontal convergence where the mobile phones are impacting the value chain of other industries.


Mobile Ticketing is likely to redefine the tickets transaction cost in any industry where tickets are issued to the consumers. The benefits would be most but not limiting to the airlines, mass transit system, cinema/events/concert, trade shows, etc. 


Mobile ticketing can increase the sales as the tickets can be sold till the very last moment.  Imagine the consumers roaming in a mall and suddenly decide to watch a movie but not sure if the tickets are available and would not be sold out before they reach the venue. With a mobile phone, the consumers can not only enquire about the tickets but can also book and receive them. On top of this, they can spend extra time in mall as they need not reach the movie hall in advance as the redemption of the mobile tickets is quick. The movie halls are able to sell their tickets which would have otherwise gone unsold and are able to reduce the manpower as well. Fewer ticket windows would be required if many consumers start to prefer mobile ticketing and even the check-in process can be automated. The consumer convenience is enormous in this process as the tickets could be bought, cancelled and re-issued at the click of a button. The tickets are immediately delivered and hence the uncertainty over delivery is not there. The tickets can also have promotional coupons or vouchers that the consumer can redeem at the food counter. Additional benefit that I see is consumer loyalty as this process gives huge consumer convenience. The biggest benefit of mobile ticketing to my mind is to the environment. The reduction in paper tickets would lead to lower carbon footprint. 


According to a Juniper research released early last year, over 2.6 billion mobile tickets will be delivered to just over 208 million mobile phone users by 2011. The mobile ticketing industry would have transactions worth $87 billion by 2011 and savings for the airline industry alone would be of $500 million each year by migrating to mobile boarding passes.  


Typical mobile ticketing process entails enquiry on availability of tickets, pricing details, payment, receipt of ticket and then redemption of the ticket at the venue. The payment for the ticket could be made either by credit/debit card on line or through mobile payments. There are essentially two types of mobile ticketing technologies – Code based (Bar Code or Text) and Contactless (RFID or NFC) 


A code for mobile ticketing is defined as any readable representation of the information in a visual format that is displayed on the mobile screen. The code could be read by the sight or by a machine and can be delivered as SMS, MMS or WAP push. Text message is the simplistic form of mobile ticket that can be send on any type of mobile phone is currently a preferred method in many countries. bCode is providing character based codes that is delivered by SMS and is popular in United States and Australia. Another form of code that is popular is bar codes. A digital signature may also be attached to the tickets to avoid duplication or fraud. There are two types of bar codes one-dimensional (1D) or two-dimensional (2D)  



1D barcodes can be up to 7 digits in length. They appear just like regular barcodes found on retail items.  



2D “data matrix” barcodes are capable of holding more information as they contain multiple rows of unique data and up to 16 characters. 2D bar codes are provided by PDF417, DataMatrix, etc. QR code, a form of 2D code is very popular in Japan. Prominent examples of bar code based companies providing mobile ticketing technologies are Mobiqa, TynTec, GaviTech AG, etc. Barcodes may contain enormous data and can alternatively be used for other promotional activities (see the Scan Life video at the end of the article) 


Contactless – Contactless mobile tickets use the Near Field Communications (NFC) or RFID technology. Smart Card based contactless tickets are already popular in mass transit ticketing. Key technologies in contactless ticketing are FeliCa, MIFARE and NXP. MIFARE is being used in London Underground Oyster Cards whereas FeliCa is being used for Hong Kong underground. The contactless technology is now integrated with mobile phones. 


The code based mobile tickets are likely to continue to remain popular in the near future unless the cost of NFC chips comes down. NFC would become mainstream due to its convenience factor for mobile payments. The best thing about mobile ticketing is that it gives so much convenience to consumers that the consumer acceptance is unlikely to be low. The transactions would increase on its own as more and more players start to offer this service. 


Below are two videos that would explain the mobile ticketing better and would also illustrate the other uses of barcodes. 


Mobile Ticketing Made Easy 

ScanLife 2D Barcode Overview

Part 1: Mobile Payments – Will the Consumers Adopt

Part 2: Mobile Payments Business Models

Part 4: Mobile Money Transfer

(The views expressed in the article are my own view and do not reflect the views of my employer)
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