NFC set to boost SA cricket’s fan experience

7 February 2014

Cricket South Africa (CSA) and its technology partner, Blue Lable Telecoms, are set to soon introduce Near-Field Communication (NFC) Technology – a first for sport in Africa, and a first for world cricket.

By using NFC technology, fans with smartphones will be able to avoid queues and not need paper tickets. They will also no longer have to endure the inconvenience of having to drive to a store to pick them up, as they will be able to purchase tickets, parking and food and beverages on their smartphones with the simple tap of a card.

The new Love Cricket NFC cards, to be issued by CSA’s Love Cricket fan programme, will bring fans numerous benefits.

Benefits

Fans will be able to buy match tickets online from anywhere at any time by using a smartphone or PC, and never needing to collect paper tickets or print them at home. They will also be able to buy tickets for family and friends and instantly send these to their Love Cricket NFC cards.

In addition, they will be able to buy multiple tickets on their Love Cricket NFC card. They will also receive confirmation of their seat allocation by SMS or by e-mail, and the ticket holder will be able to query and confirm their seats at any time on their mobile phone via Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). Tap-to-park and tap-to-enter the stadium features will be included, as well as tap- to-pay for food & beverages and access to VIP beer queues.

Finally, the cards will allow access to special Love Cricket events and promotions at games and at sponsored events

‘Proud’

“We are very excited and, of course, proud to launch NFC technology in cricket, ” CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said in a statement on Thursday. “From the extensive research we have done over the past few seasons, fans have consistently raised the stadium experience as a focal issue for them.

“With partners like Blue Label, we can now work towards enhancing the stadium experience for fans so that they can enjoy convenience and actively support the Proteas and the Franchise teams live at stadiums.”

Phased approach

The introduction of the NFC cards will be done in a phased approach, with the 12 largest cricket stadiums currently being upgraded with NFC technology to make the fan experience both fun and convenient.

Starting with ticketing and access for the 2014/2015 season, other benefits such as parking and in-stadium purchasing will gradually be added to make attendance at matches that much more enjoyable.

Secure exchange

Blue Label CTO Dr David Fraser commented: “The solution deployed for CSA uses NFC technology which means that tickets, vouchers, coupons, value and other information can be securely exchanged between the Love Cricket NFC card and an NFC reader/writer by simply bringing them near to each other.

“This means that the same card and same technology can be used for all aspects of the fan’s experience, both within and outside the stadium. This is an industry first.

“By linking a Love Cricket NFC card with a fan’s mobile phone we bring the best of the real world and the Internet world together in a form with which people are familiar. Over time, as the number of NFC phones in circulation increases, we will allow virtual cards to be used on our fan’s phones eliminating the need to carry a separate card,’ he added.

“For the 2014 season, the benefits of the Love Cricket NFC card will be offered exclusively to Love Cricket Silver and Gold members. The 2015 season will see the Love Cricket NFC card being opened up to all fans and not just Love Cricket Members,” Fraser concluded.

SAinfo reporter and Cricket South Africa