Posted by Karen Brindley, Managing Director, Krowne Communications (UK) Ltd.
This will read like a school field trip report, but after all those months of preparation, the CI Spring Conference (29th April) is finally over – and what a great day it was. A whopping 20% increase of registrations from last year and despite the best attempts of the Icelandic volcano to disrupt travel, everything went smoothly. As always, participants appreciated the topics and discussions throughout the day, with 100% of participants who completed a feedback form saying that the event met or exceeded their expectations and 100% declaring that they would attend another such event. The pictures from the day will be going up next week on our Flickr site and you can access them through the navigation bar on the right of the blog post.
At this year’s event we wanted to pull together the public and private sectors to share contactless experiences because we believe that it will be a combination of both that will lead to mass deployment. It was also important to hear success stories from around Europe, to give support and guidance for the UK market. The morning started with a focus on Transport where presenters from Transport for London (TfL), Scottish entitlement card, Translink in Northern Ireland and Veolia (NFC ticketing in Nice) shared their success stories and plans for the future.
Interestingly, each of the presenters had a different approach to ticketing, due in part to either their timing in implementing contactless or whether the operator was from the public or private sector. In the end it seems that all schemes can flourish – even if interoperability isn’t always possible across schemes; from the open scheme proposed by TfL where travellers will be able to pay with their contactless credit/debit cards; to closed schemes like iLink from Translink (not running on ITSO – quite rare for a UK transport operator) or the National Entitlement card in Scotland where the citizen card can be used for travel; to NFC ticketing due to start in Nice at the end of this month.
During CISC 2010 this year, we wanted to show how NFC technology has progressed, with Oberthur Technologies sharing their roadmap of NFC activities over the last few years. While companies such as Over-C demonstrated how NFC phones are already being used in industries such as waste management, security and retail to offer real cost savings and process improvement – proof that successful business models drive implementation.
One of the best-loved sessions at the Spring Conference is the Retailer Viewpoint, where the contactless industry hear from those companies and organisations implementing contactless technology. A representative from ERGOSUM, a French retail organisation focused on mobile technology, explained how the Tier 1 merchants had overcome their competitive issues to join forces in formulating demands for NFC technology and driving forward progress – impressing the UK retailers and showing that by working together the retail industry has a far more powerful voice.
The National Trust spoke about how a country-wide implementation of contactless had not exactly resulted in the usage they’d hoped and offered suggestions to the industry on how uptake could be improved. Both NCP and Hillingdon Council spoke about how contactless was a key focus in their parking strategies, with significant uptake on the scheme in Hillingdon. All the points raised by the implementors were passed to a panel consisting of Visa, Barclaycard, O2, Ingenico and VeriFone, who provided their views on how uptake of the technology could be improved in the UK.
The afternoon focused on working partnerships, with two initiatives taking place. The UKMCF – a body of UK mobile operators – are trying to define strategic direction for NFC within the UK. And a mobile operator (Telefonica O2) and bank (la Caixa) have successfully joined forces in launching the first major Single Wire Protocol NFC trial – in Sitges, Spain, proving that it is possible for all players to agree on mutually beneficial business models.
At CISC, we always like to finish the day with a more interactive environment so that attendees can take away something concrete from the day. It also enables different ecosystem players to debate and discuss potential solutions. It’s amazing how much a group can cover in such a short time and reminds all participants that they all hold the key to the success of contactless in the future. And with the announcement of the new Contactless & NFC Cities League, you can be sure that there will be plenty of activity by C-ITV over the coming months covering the upcoming projects and pilots around the world.