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Mobile Banking & Payments

An Approaching Tipping Point in Mobile Boarding Passes

I’m in Europe this week teaching, along with my partner Carol Coye Benson, a private payments workshop. This is the first time we’ve done this in Europe – and we’re looking forward to it!

Flying over on United Airlines, I couldn’t help but notice the new optical bar code scanners that have been installed at the TSA screening checkpoints at SFO and at the United gates. My printed out boarding pass had a 2D bar code on it – but that wasn’t read in either case. Those devices are apparently primarily intended for use with mobile boarding passes – 2D bar code images displayed from your mobile phone.

I used one of these new mobile boarding passes for the first time on a recent flight on American Airlines. When I checked in online for the flight home, I noticed a mobile boarding pass option – selected it, received an email with an attached image file that I then displayed to a reader at the boarding gate.Why am I mentioning all of this – and what’s it got to do with payments? (I’m actually just trying to stay awake on my first afternoon in Europe – just kidding!)

It’s always fascinated me how the serious adoption of new technology in a seemingly unrelated vertical soon enough bleeds over into another vertical – particularly as equipment is involved. As deployments occur, new things are learned, enhancements and refinements are made and things just generally improve. That ball is now seriously rolling with respect to mobile boarding passes.

Clearly, we’re on the cusp of a serious migration to mobile boarding passes in the US. Travelers will soon be very comfortable displaying their boarding pass to a scanner at the gate – and avoiding the hassles of printing and carrying paper. When will this new way of communicating data simply from the mobile handset jump the rails into new verticals? Are you betting, along with Starbucks and mFoundry – and others, that it’s coming? Seems that the airlines have placed they’re bets!

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Dave Birch
10 years ago

I took an internal Korean flight a couple of years ago, and as far as I could tell I was the only person using a paper boarding pass, so clearly some places have already tipped!!

Rahul Bhargava
Rahul Bhargava
10 years ago

Actually I tried using the mobile boarding pass on my iphone on a recent United Airlines flight. Wasnt sure if it would work so kept a paper boarding pass with me too, just in case… Just as well, because the security gate agent, after fumbling with it for a while, realized that the scanning device (different than the one used for paper) was out of batteries!
growing pains…

Dion Lisle
10 years ago

I am on a United flight now – first time with the mobile boarding pass. The security person at JFK had to turn on the reader for this – an extra 30 seconds, but then it worked great. I miss one thing – printed boarding passes show my status (Global Services) and i feel like I am not getting treated right – ok that is a nit. Agreed this is great, one less thing to worry about rushing to JFK.