Apple’s launch of the iPhone 6 has generated a lot of media attention for various reasons, one of the main focal points being the phone’s NFC capabilities. What does this move toward NFC mean for RFID? Before we answer that, let’s look briefly at the actual technology behind the two. Both NFC and RFID refer to a data transfer process between an RFID or NFC device (a ‘host’) and a ‘reader’. RFID technology has been used in various industries for almost 50 years, while NFC is still fairly nascent. NFC differs primarily in its ability to allow for information to be shared peer-to-peer – between other NFC users.
Apple Pay with NFC is a great reason to be excited about the future of cashless payments. This confirms that the future is in paying with the tap of your wrist! There is no doubt that mobile phone based systems like Apple Pay will eventually become the norm, but it will take a long time until we see the impact at events. Here are some reasons why:
Patrons must have their smartphones on their person at all times on festival grounds, which is not always the case. In many instances, patrons leave their phones in tents or bring a cheaper handset in case of theft or loss.
Theft or loss of phones
If this happens, patrons won’t be able to access the event and cannot make on-site purchases.
Lack of mobile charging facilities
With all the photo-taking, video-recording, and social media interactions guests will use their smartphones for, their phone batteries are likely to deplete quickly. Without battery charging stations, patrons will have difficulties making on-site purchases.
Currently, there is no single, unified NFC payment option available across all mobile platforms, so support and compatibility with all these different systems is essential.
Lack of signal
Platforms that require a stable network to fully operate may experience disruptions when a reliable network connection cannot be secured.
Lack of tracking and reporting
These aforementioned systems do not offer robust reporting options for vendors or event organizers. This ultimately affects transparency in vendor reconciliation and the bottom line for event organizers.
In contrast, RFID-enabled wristbands provide convenience at the tap of the wrist for cashless transactions in a safe and secure environment. Lost or stolen wristbands can be deactivated immediately and patrons are reissued a new one with their unique account ID information transferred to the new wristband. More importantly, event organizers have complete control and transparency of all on-site transactions for vendor reconciliation and access to a wealth of guest spending and behavioral data for invaluable insight. RFID-enabled devices have also made it possible for patrons to interact seamlessly with event content, sponsors, and commercial partners through Brand Amplification initiatives.
While RFID has been the focus to date in the festival landscape, it is imperative that service providers be able to adapt to the changing needs of the market – whether it’s supporting platforms like Apple Pay, or contactless technologies like NFC, or Bluetooth 4.0. At Intellitix, we recognize the potential of NFC and have already successfully piloted events integrating other contactless payment methodologies. We will continue to innovate and adapt to the changing needs of the market.