Why do operators in some countries (Hong Kong, for example, or Switzerland) use cards for e-ticketing instead of utilizing Near Field Communication recognition with smartphones?
Many railway operators adopted Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, a form of high-frequency radio frequency identification, five or more years ago. At the time, Android-based phones could read and write to NFC tags. But Apple only introduced NFC capability in 2014 with its iPhone 6, and at that time, it could not be used by any third-party apps. It wasn’t until late 2016, with the launch of the iPhone 7, that Apple allowed apps to read NFC tags, and it wasn’t until 2019 that Apple allowed apps to write to NFC tags. So using phones prior to 2019 for e-ticketing meant iPhone users would not be able to ride on a transit system. Now that Apple has fully embraced NFC, more transit providers might move to phone-based ticketing—but this, of course, still discriminates against people who don’t carry smartphones (if there are any out there).
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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