Moshtix unimpressed by Google Wallet, NFC

The ticketing company recently added support for Apple Passbook on iOS 6 devices.

Moshtix has held off supporting Google Wallet for mobile ticketing due to Android OS fragmentation and lack of customer demand, according to Moshtix technology director Bartek Marnane.

The ticketing company, which recently announced support for Apple Passbook, is also unconvinced about the usefulness of near field communication (NFC) technology, Marnane told Computerworld Australia.

Moshtix delivers mobile tickets as PDF files for mobile devices not running iOS 6. “PDF tickets will always be an alternative,” said Marnane. Moshtix also still provides physical tickets and festival wristbands as options, he said.

However, the ticketing company is not at this time considering support for Passbook-like apps designed for other mobile operating systems, Marnane said.

“There are a number of applications on the Android platform which do similar things, but none of them with the amount of take up or scale that the Apple devices have,” he said. “A month after iOS 6 was released, about 60 per cent of phones had upgrade to it, which is just straight away a huge market.”

If Moshtix saw more customer demand for Google Wallet or other mobile digital wallets, “then definitely we would aim to be part of that,” he said. However, in Australia, he said Google Wallet “hasn’t had a huge impact, so I think with that one it’s a little more wait and see”.

“The reality is while there are a large number of Android devices out there in the market ... the majority of those devices are still on” older versions of the OS that don’t support Wallet, he added.

Marnane also has doubts about the NFC technology used by Google Wallet, which for ticketing could allow users to enter an event by waving their device over a reader. Apple chose not to support NFC in the iPhone 5 and others have said the technology is not yet ready for prime time.

“NFC is something that’s often touted and thrown around, but the numbers of actually NFC-equipped devices in Australia is relatively quite low,” Marnane said. “I’d be interested to know what NFC would give you beyond what Passbook already does.”

Accepting tickets with Passbook uses the same scanning equipment venues use to scan PDFs, Marnane said. Accepting tickets via NFC would require venues to purchase NFC readers, and Marnane doesn’t see a “hugely compelling reason” for them to do so.

A mockup of a Moshtix ticket on the Passbook app.
A mockup of a Moshtix ticket on the Passbook app.

Passbook, which became available in Apple iOS 6, “solves the problem of discoverability” where users struggle to remember which app or location on their phone contains the mobile ticket, Marnane said. “At events, people are going through their emails, trying to find the PDF tickets, and this just makes it a lot easier.” Passbook sits on the home screen and is a “logical” place to look for the ticket, he said.

Another benefit to Passbook is that it automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen to maximum and prevents the screen from timing out, said Marnane. “That reduces 80 per cent of the headaches you get when you try to scan a mobile phone with a traditional scanning device.”

Passbook also allows Moshtix to communicate with customers if an event is cancelled or rescheduled, he said.

Mobile trends

“While mobile is big for us, the numbers using it are still relatively low,” Marnane said. He estimates that five to 20 per cent of tickets to any one event are purchased using a mobile device.

Moshtix will continue to watch digital wallets as the market grows, said Marnane. Consumers will decide which wallet is best based on which provides the most benefit to them, he said. “There’s got to be a compelling reason for the user to want to use it," he said.

“If you have mobile payments linked to your phone bill ... that’s not very compelling,” he said. “Linking it to a bank account and having it that way—at the moment I’ve not seen any easy-to-use mechanisms for being able to facilitate that.”

Marnane still sees room for improvement simplifying the process of paying for tickets over mobile devices. Passbook only delivers tickets; users still have to buy them through the Moshtix mobile website. “Nobody really likes that bit where you need to put in a 16-digit credit card number on your actual mobile-enabled site or application,” he said.

“It will be interesting to see what the Australian banks and payment services do to improve [the mobile payment] experience, and we’ll certainly be watching that space very carefully.”

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

Tags PassbookiOS 6Google WalletNear Field Communications (NFC)Androiddigital walletfragmentationMoshtixmobile ticketingApplemobile wallet

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