Paciolan Chief Technology Officer Keith White: The wallet is “going all digital, so we need to be ready for that.” (Courtesy Paciolan)

Coming mass acceptance of digital passbook drives changes in ticketing

Digital wallets are old enough that some of the most familiar have moved on from their original names: Apple Passbook, which made its debut in 2012, is now Apple Wallet, and Google Wallet has become part of Google Pay.

What’s new is the level of enthusiasm that consumers, including ticket buyers, are showing for them. 

E.J. Liao, who is vice president of product management for Paciolan after coming over from Amazon last year, noted that even three years after Apple came out with digital passes, adoption numbers were, well, passable in most cases, save some areas of relative strength such as airline boarding passes. 

But 2019 looks to be when digital wallets will seriously fatten up, Liao said.

“This may be the year … actually, let me restate that: I think this is the year,” he said, citing a Juniper Research study saying that usage with wallets has jumped significantly this year.

Bon Mercado, who manages strategic Google Wallet partnerships for Google, said many people grew accustomed to using digital wallets without realizing it.

“They were familiar with the Starbucks app, they were familiar with the Southwest app. They knew that their tickets were there, but they never considered it a wallet. It was just part of an app,” Mercado said.

“I think there’s a shift where people are realizing I can’t have all these apps on my phone,” he said. “More and more consumers are getting used to having a universal wallet in their phone that will hold multiple things.”

It’s good news for digital ticketing, where every click or tap that’s required equates to “friction,” and increases the probability that a shopper won’t become a buyer. 

“Your payment capabilities are in your wallet now, your tickets are in your wallet now, you can put car insurance in your wallet, you can get into your hotel room with your phone instead of a key,” Paciolan Chief Technology Officer Keith White said. “Eventually I see the day where your driver’s licenses are going in there. The wallet, as far as being able to pay and getting into places and showing ID, it’s going all digital, so we need to be ready for that.”

Paciolan is opening up an integration model via a software development kit with select partners, starting with Sidearm Sports. The SDK, available this fall, will allow clients to enhance their mobile apps by selling and delivering tickets natively within their apps, much as airlines do.

In addition, Google Pay is newly available for customers on the Paciolan Hosted Merchant Services platform and can be used for both desktop and mobile web purchases.  It will be incorporated into the mobile SDK.

Emily Kramer, a member of the Payment Partnerships team at Google, emphasized the convenience of Google Pay, which doesn’t require card info to be loaded into your phone. “As long as the user is logged in to any Google property … you can automatically start transacting with Google Pay,” she said, as long as there is a payment credential associated with that Google account.

The arrival of digital wallet use on a larger scale means more than quicker transactions for buyers. With increased use of digital passes, and the information attached to them, it also creates more marketing opportunities for venues and properties.

White noted an example from one client in which a fan would be scanned in at the gate and would receive an email. “So, you’ve got another touch point for fan engagement for folks scanning in,” he said. “I could really see this going to push notification and text as well on the mobile device. You can offer upgrades, you can offer coupons, you could offer any number of experiences to your fans to continue to engage them.”

Liao said it could also lead to a better answer to a seemingly simple question: Who is in the building?

“Today it’s likely that you know one out of four people that goes to your event, roughly 25 percent,” he said. “Would you like to know more about them so you can engage them at the event? … That’s what the digital passes will do for you. And here you can seamlessly share that pass to your friends. Instead of knowing just one out of four folks that comes to your event — eventually you’ll know all of them.”  


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