Smartphones will increasingly be used as mobile tickets as NFC technology drives vendors to move to contactless payment systems, according to a report from Juniper Research.
Over 500 million people are expected to use their smartphone as a 'mobile ticket' by 2015, led by western Europe, the Far East and China, the Mobile Ticketing for Transport Briefing said.
A mobile ticket user is defined as "someone who stores a ticket on their mobile device for later redemption at the point of travel", explained Howard Wilcox, senior analyst at Juniper Research.
Mobile ticketing will be used to pay for travel, sporting and entertainment events, through e-commerce sites, over the phone or at a physical ticket kiosk.
SMS ticketing has been in operation for several years in large cities in central and eastern Europe such as Stockholm and Prague. But NFC is expected to drive growth as transport authorities move to open contactless payment systems, Wilcox said.
The main drivers will be convenience for citizens and the cost saving opportunities for vendors.
However, there are some barriers to mainstream implementation, Wilcox noted, including the lack of a clear business model, handset and reader availability, and user support.
"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," Wilcox said.
"It will be 2013 before large numbers of NFC-enabled devices are in people's pockets, and our new report forecasts the impact on transaction volumes."
Vendors from telecoms, mobile, smart card, point-of-sale and e-ticketing backgrounds are all expected to be involved in the mobile ticket ecosystem.
"These companies have identified that mobile is the channel of the future and are keen to add to their existing product portfolio," said Wilcox.
The Google Nexus S was the first smartphone to ship with NFC, and the search firm is conducting contactless payment trials in the US. O2, meanwhile, plans to release a mobile wallet application in the UK this year.
Wilcox had previously predicted that one in five smartphones will have NFC by 2014 and that the western European market would be worth $23bn by 2016.
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