Starting from the 1st November, owners of smartphones running Apple iOS or Google Android operating systems will be able to use the "Touch&Travel" system based on near field communication (NFC) to pay for their Deutsche Bahn rail tickets. The charge will be calculated according to what route is taken, determined on the basis of a check-in and -out at a terminal and deducted from a topped up account.
NFC is predicted a promising future but the technology is not yet widely used. This presents a major challenge for Deutsche Bahn. “We have a chicken-and-egg situation. Without demand there are also no compelling applications for the technology”, says Birgit Wirth, responsible for innovation projects at Deutsche Bahn. She hopes, however, that the technology will become much more widespread by 2014/15.
According to an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Tuesday, Deutsche Bahn could achieve a breakthrough with their mobile payment systems project. Many large Internet companies, such as eBay and Google, are also engaged with developing similar applications. Demand and applicability, however, remain limited for the time being.
Comparison of NFC and QR-Code-Technology
Companies use alternatively QR codes as payment method. Starbucks for example did not want to wait any longer for NFC technology and launched a “Touch & Go” system whereby the payment is done by QR codes. However, Google said goodbye to QR codes and is now entirely working with NFC technology. The magazine “Der Handel” published a comparison graphic in issue 06/2011, showing the “Pros” and “Contras” of both systems: