Half A Billion To Adopt Mobile Ticketing By 2015

Mobile ticketing is set to take off, with 500 million people using the technology on public transport within 3 years

Half a billion people across the globe will be using their mobile devices as travel tickets on public transport by 2015, according to a new forecast from Juniper Research.

This is over five times the number generated in 2010, and Juniper is expecting usage to spread widely due to the recent momentum in adoption of Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. The use of NFC technology for mobile ticketing is currently concentrated in Japan, according to Juniper’s Mobile Ticketing for Transport Markets report, whereas cities in Scandinavia and Central and Eastern Europe tend to opt for SMS ticketing.

Convenience and choice

“Whether by expansion of SMS and bar code delivery or by NFC, at Juniper we see convenience and choice for users as key advantages of mobile ticketing,” said the author of the report, Howard Wilcox. “It will be 2013 before large numbers of NFC enabled devices are in peoples’ pockets and our new report forecasts the impact on transaction volumes.”

Juniper predicts that Western Europe and the Far East and China will become the leading transport mobile ticketing regions in volume by 2015. The research firm claims that mobile ticketing also has the potential to work across train and air travel, the latter driven by mobile delivered bar coded boarding passes.

However, Juniper warns that poor user experience, such as bar code reading issues, is an implementation risk and could undermine the projected growth.

NFC gaining traction

Near-Field Communications (NFC) are a set of short-range wireless technologies that can beam and receive information at a distance of up to 4 inches. It is used in payment systems such as London Transport’s Oyster card. However, mobile industry players are increasingly looking at ways to make better use of the technology.

Back in February, major mobile operators, including T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2 in the UK, announced a commitment to rolling out near-field communications (NFC) payment services in “select markets” by 2012. Deutsche Telekom, which operates T-Mobile in the UK, said the push towards NFC is an attempt to fight back against the power of Apple and Google, which have dipped into smartphone users’ pockets with their app stores.

Meanwhile, device manufacturers such as Google, Apple, Research In Motion and Nokia are all busy building NFC into their future smartphone handsets. In December, industry analysts iSuppli predicted that the use of mobile devices for payments would begin to take off in 2011, with 2012 being a ‘make or break’ year for the technology.

Broad range of applications

“NFC is perhaps best known for its role in enabling mobile payments, but its applications go far beyond that,” said Franco Bernabe, chief executive of Telecom Italia and chairman the GSM Association (GSMA).

“NFC represents an important innovation opportunity and will facilitate a wide range of interesting services and applications for consumers, such as mobile ticketing, mobile couponing, the exchange of information and content, control access to cars, homes, hotels, offices, car parks and much more.”

Mobile giant Samsung and credit card company Visa are already preparing to offer mobile payment technology at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The handsets will be distributed among Visa and Samsung sponsored athletes, and will also be available for consumers to purchase through mobile network operators and other distributors.