Duke University’s men’s basketball programme has claimed an NCAA college sports first with its contactless ticketing trial, while it also tests digital barcoded tickets for mobile wallet.

Through its partnership with primary ticketing partner NeuLion College, smart event platform Pronto, and access control provider Alvarado, both Apple Wallet via Value Added Services (VAS) protocols, and Google Pay through Google’s Smart Tap (ST) protocols are supported.

Duke Athletics is also testing barcoded digital tickets at men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, and baseball home games this spring season with an eye towards a broader roll out next year.

“Our goal is to deliver a ticketing experience that is easy and intuitive to fans,” said NeuLion College president, Tim Vargas. “With our launch of mobile wallet tickets we add yet another option for ticket holders to enter venues with the convenience of their mobile devices. Duke is a true partner and we are always excited to collaborate on innovative opportunities.”

Pronto CX’s head of product, Conrad Caplin, told TheTicketingBusiness.com: “Tap and go via Apple Wallet or Google Pay is simply the easiest, fastest, and most secure way to convey event tickets.

“It especially makes sense on college campuses where mobile phone use of every kind is trending, plus you have a very tech savvy user base… and if a school is not ready to support Contactless Tickets at all of their campus events, they can easily designate when to issue barcoded mobile wallet tickets instead.”

Caplin noted that fraud is a real concern at venues like Cameron Indoor Stadium where all games are sold out and tickets can be very expensive, but adds that the contactless tickets are encrypted.

He said: “As for Contactless Tickets, the NFC payload – which includes the ticket entry token – is encrypted and is not human readable.  The only way to get access to a Contactless Ticket is to have the original owner advance/transfer their ticket to you, which in turn invalidates the original ticket.”

He also acknowledged the potential for forgery of barcoded tickets for mobile wallet. Caplin said: “But even then only one ticket can gain entry… either the original or the cloned ticket.  We don’t view the effort and execution risk associated with dynamic barcodes being worth the potential fraud they avoid.

“Plus, at high profile venues or events where fraud is a very big concern, those venues have the budget and should be upgrading their hardware to support Contactless Tickets anyhow.  Some ticketing companies though have invested a lot in dynamic barcode systems over the past several years, so I understand their desire to try and operationalise that, but our view is dynamic barcodes are sub-optimal operationally, for UX, and for combatting fraud.”

The system works by looking at a fan’s location and event time, and will send a notification to a customer’s lock screen.  They can then tap on the notification to ready their ticket.  Or they can let Alvarado’s reader automatically select their ticket for them.

Alvarado vice-president of sales, Brian McNeill, told TheTicketingBusiness.com: “Sports and entertainment venues face very difficult challenges when it comes to ingress and egress operations.

“We focus our design efforts on providing state-of-the-art technologies that not only expedite entry control, but transform the overall experience for guests and staff alike. Leveraging the latest digital wallet initiatives such as NFC contactless tickets allows us to do just that.”