British football gets contactless smart card tickets
British football club, Manchester City, is to issue its season ticket holders with contactless smart card admission passes, which they simply wave in front of the turnstile to get into the stands. The proximity cards, supplied by Inside Contactless, are the key to the secure admissions system being installed at the club's Maine Road Stadium by FortressGB.
The PicoPass contactless season tickets offer fans more convenience than the somewhat old fashioned admission process that season ticket holders currently undergo at each game.
The Fortress Smart Football Club solution involves the installation of multi-standard contactless reader interfaces at turnstiles to detect the presence of the cards up to a metre away, allowing cardholders to pass through the turnstile without further hindrance.
Preferential treatment? Because of football's popularity, and the vast revenues that matches can generate, much of a club's income comes from the prior sales of priority tickets, European Traveller Club and season tickets.
Anyone who has ever gone to a football game knows that the process of getting into a match is very largely about waiting in line, negotiating turnstiles, and scrambling for good seats in the family stands. At worst, regular visitors (such as season ticket holders) have no additional benefits or privileges.
FortressGB's scheme also offers fans a more secure football experience, while the club itself benefits from better tools for managing games, as well as an improved revenue stream.
During the initial trial, the contactless readers are installed at one family stand gate at Manchester City's Maine Road stadium. The full solution is expected to be rolled out for the 2003/2004 football season, with contactless cards being issued to all of the club's season ticket holders.
The technology The cards are Inside's PicoPass cards, which have 16 kilobits of memory (suitable for a high-demand application), and can operate at distances of over 1 metre (although the speed of the card's operation is optimal within 10 centimetres of the reader).
"Inside had the best answer for our needs, as PicoPass offered the security, memory size, distances and convenience that we were looking for," said Mika Weinstein Lustig, vice president of business development for FortressGB.
Eric Jouve, speaking for Inside Contactless, commented, "From secure access control through to loyalty and ticketing, Fortress has shown its expertise in combining all the requirements into a unique and secure smart card solution."
Other options The leap to football fan loyalty is not far away, either. Among its range of access control and loyalty products, FortressGB offers a loyalty application for football clubs, based on the same technology being used by Manchester City, which would allow supporters to earn loyalty points for various purchases. Loyalty points could be awarded for purchases made in the stadium, in local shops or on a football club's own web site. Points could then be redeemed for tickets, or at the club's shop or web site.