Today the MLB announced that the Oakland Athletics are piloting a new NFC ticketing solution which lets fans enter the stadium by tapping their phone (or Apple Watch) to a ticket scanner – just like you’d do to use Apple Pay. The feature uses the NFC technology that is used for contactless rewards cards (like Walgreens Balance Rewards) via Apple Pay, and this is the first time the technology is being used outside of reward cards or stored balance gift cards.
The pilot lasted for a six-game homestand starting Sept. 22nd after iOS 11 launched, and was the first time a professional sports event supported contactless tickets in Apple Wallet. Interestingly, the Oakland Athletics were also the first team to use mobile ticketing via text messaging, way back in 2007.
Of course contactless entry isn’t that different from using a mobile barcode ticket to enter a venue, which is something that a bunch of stadiums do use. But NFC is more secure since a barcode could be replicated. It’s also a lot less error prone than scanning a barcode off a screen – which most of us have tried before and probably walked away frustrated with the experience. So contactless ticketing via NFC will definitely be a welcome development for any of us that frequently use our phones for mobile entry.
The tech is being developed by Tickets.com, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MLBAM. They power the ticketing for 23 MLB teams and while there will be no more games this season that support contactless entry, the firm will be working with those teams (and its non-MLB clients) to implement the technology for the 2018 season.