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Soccer Fans Use RFID Cards to Gain Admission and Buy Food
The Manchester City Football Club is issuing season tickets containing 13.56 MHz RFID tags, enabling them to unlock the stadium's turnstiles, and to function as contactless PayPass payment cards.
Mar 25, 2008—The Manchester City Football Club is adding prepaid payment functionality to its RFID-enabled stadium membership cards, beginning with a trial of the MasterCard Prepaid Seasoncard. This card is unique because it includes RFID-enabled capabilities that let cardholders not only gain access to the stadium but also use MasterCard's contactless PayPass technology to buy food, beverages and other items during the games, as well as make purchases at retail locations elsewhere.
The trial, conducted in cooperation with Altair Financial Services International, MasterCard, Bank of America subsidiary MBNA Europe and RFID systems integrator Fortress GB, began on March 16 with 3,800 ticket holders. The pilot will continue through the rest of the British football season—about six more games.
Provided by Gemalto, the card has the Manchester football club logo, the cardholder's name and the MasterCard logo emblazoned on the front. It contains a single passive 13.56 MHz RFID tag that provides both access to stadium seats (via RFID-enabled turnstiles provide by Fortress GB) and PayPass transaction functionality. The tag contains an NXP Semiconductors Mifare RFID chip, which complies with the ISO 14443 international proximity device standard, as well as MasterCard's PayPass specification, which is based on ISO 14443.
Game attendees can use the card's RFID tag to unlock the appropriate turnstile to allow access to their section of the stadium. In addition, they can use it make contactless payments for food and drinks within the stadium, and to make purchases at both chip-and-PIN and contactless point-of-sale terminals at retail establishments outside the site. According to Wray, all three functions are powered by the card's RFID chip. In the case of the turnstile, the card's chip holds an ID number that is recognized by the turnstile system. Once the ID number is read by an RFID interrogator built into the entryway, the turnstile opens, allowing the sports fan to pass through.
For the past four years, Fortress GB has provided 13.56 MHz RFID membership cards (containing a Mifare chips) to Manchester Football Stadium season ticket holders. Season ticket holders use the cards to unlock turnstiles throughout the stadium, and can also present the cards at concession areas to receive discounts on purchases. Those without season passes can buy RFID-enabled paper tickets, which also unlock the turnstiles. While pilot participants traded in their Fortress GB membership cards for the new PayPass-compliant cards, the new cards operate the same turnstiles, says Richard Pinnick, Fortress GB's head of strategic projects.
What makes the Manchester Football Club MasterCard Seasoncard different than the previous membership card is its prepay capabilities. While one portion of the chip stores Fortress GB's access and membership data, another portion holds a separate ID number linked to the cardholder's prepaid MasterCard account. Users can load a chosen amount of money from their bank account, which can be done either at a cash-loading terminal (similar to an ATM) or at the Manchester City Football Club's Web site.
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