Some baseball fans should have an easier time seeing their favorite teams next season: Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that the Oakland Athletics participated in a new NFC ticketing solution that allowed fans to enter stadium payments by simply tapping their phone (or Apple Watch) to a ticket scanner.
According to a TechCrunch news report, while Apple has been using NFC contactless technology to power Apple Pay in the iPhone and Apple Watch for a few years, the hardware only became available to third-party app developers with the launch of iOS 11.
The pilot program with the Oakland A’s lasted for a six-game homestand starting Sept. 22. It was the first time a professional sports event supported contactless tickets in Apple Wallet. And the team has proven to be ahead of its time: The A's were also the first to use mobile ticketing via text messaging in 2007.
While many stadiums already use a mobile barcode ticket to gain entrance, NFC is more secure, as a barcode can possibly be replicated. It’s also less error prone than scanning a barcode off a screen, making the entry process easier for guests and stadium employees alike.
The technology is being developed by Tickets.com, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) that powers the ticketing for 23 MLB teams. While there will be no more games this season that support contactless entry, the firm will be working with teams, as well as with its non-MLB clients, to implement the technology for the 2018 season.