The deployment of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology will lead to half a billion people worldwide using their mobile devices as travel tickets by 2015, according to research from Juniper Research.
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Last year, fewer than 100 million people travelled on metros, subways and buses by using their mobile phones as tickets, but this number is set to increase with the roll-out of NFC technology, says Juniper Research.
Many countries already use SMS ticketing, but transport operators are expected to open contactless payment systems to enable NFC ticket usage. Transport firms are expected to see a decrease in operating costs by moving to this system, as it will reduce cash transactions and speed up queue times.
Convenience will be a big driver in mobile ticketing for consumers, says Howard Wilcox, principal analyst at Juniper. "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," he said.
But the industry is in a "chicken and egg" situation at the moment, as mobile phones must first contain chipsets for NFC to work, says Wilcox.
BlackBerry has announced the launch of NFC-enabled devices in the second quarter of this year, while Samsung is also set to launch NFC-ready handsets this year.
But the technology will not be rolled out across the entire UK transport system, as areas that do not already have some form of contactless payment technology will find installing NFC equipment cost prohibitive, adds Wilcox.
The research firm also says the growth of NFC in the UK will drive the replacement of Chip and PIN equipment.
Contactless payments are already used in some retail outlets, with McDonald's intending to enable contactless payments for transactions of £15 and under.
Juniper Research analyst report: Mobile ticketing for transport markets. Click to download (requires registration).