Oakland A’s pioneer NFC ticketing in pro sports

Major League Baseball franchise Oakland Athletics has become the first team in the league to pilot Near Field Communication (NFC) ticketing through Tickets.com.

In a trial that ran for six games from September 22, fans were able to enter the venue by tapping their phone to a scanner.

During the trial, the NFC technology, much like Apple Pay and contactless cards, was used for the first time in the US outside of reward cards or stored balance gift cards.

The trial marked the first time a professional sports event supported contactless tickets in Apple Wallet, and came just after the release of iOS 11. In 2007, the A’s were also the pioneers for mobile ticketing via text messaging.

Tickets.com, the firm that has developed the NFC technology, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MLB Advanced Media that powers ticketing for 23 MLB teams. While there are no more games this season that support contactless entry, the firm will be working with the teams to implement the technology for the 2018 season.

According to the TechCrunch website, the NFC technology is similar to the current mobile bar codes that are used as tickets for entry to MLB games. However, NFC is more secure because barcodes can be replicated. In addition, the technology is less likely to become error prone, since scanning a barcode from a screen can be quite temperamental and inconsistent.

The A’s had the second lowest attendance record for the 2017 MLB season with an average of 18,446 fans per game at its Oakland Alameda Coliseum ballpark, which has a 63,132-capacity.

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