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Mobile ticketing is the process whereby customers can order, pay for, obtain and/or validate tickets using mobile phones. Mobile tickets reduce the production and distribution costs connected with traditional paper-based ticketing channels and increase customer convenience by providing new and simple ways to purchase tickets.
Mobile tickets should not be confused with E-Tickets (electronic tickets) which are used by airlines since 1994, they can be sent by e-mail, printed and shown at the check-in desk at the airport to obtain a boarding pass.
Philips and Sony developed near field communication (NFC) in 2002. It is build on the same basis as common contactless smartcards. Philips published an early paper on NFC in 2004. In 2004, the NFC Forum was established. NFC incorporated in a mobile phone allows all kind of novel contactless applications, mobile ticketing being an important one of them. Mobile Tickets can be purchased via internet and will be downloaded in a few seconds to the mobile phone, be it in an sms with a 2-D barcode or to the connected NFC chip. In case of NFC at entrance the phone just has to be touched to the scanning device (in fact it makes contact within 10 cm). The GSM Association, GSMA, published a whitepaper on M-Ticketing in 2011. It describes extensively the use and advantages of M-Ticketing, principally the use of NFC technology. They state that NFC is the best technology but "it is expected however that M-Ticketing services using SMS and Bar Code implementations will be prevalent until the point that a critical mass of NFC enabled handsets is available."