Coming soon: Mobile NFC boarding at airports

If you think paying for your groceries and gadgets with a tap of your phone is cool, wait until you get to the airport.

SITA, an independent international firm that focuses on advancing the air travel industry, has recently completed a pilot program that showed off how Near Field Communication (NFC) technology could be used in conjunction with what is one of the most aggravating consumer interactions around the world.

That is, namely, flying on an airplane. SITA developed technology that would allow passengers to simply tap their phone to check-in, to get through security, and to board their plane.

This is substantially different than the current mobile solutions that exist because every single piece of data required for air travel would be stored in the NFC chip, as opposed to the limited data that currently appears in mobile boarding pass solutions.

SITA CTO Jim Peters said, “Mobile NFC is still a maturing technology with multiple implementation models. We chose to implement a solution that takes full advantage of the secure element on the SIM card and over-the-air deployment from a Trusted Service Manager (TSM) to the device.”

He continued to say that “the project was a success and we now have a dedicated NFC demo room at our offices in Geneva where airlines and airports can experience this new type of passenger journey and discuss the technology which makes it happen.”

So the process is still very much at its infancy right now, but there is definite interest among the major players in the air travel business.

NFC is poised to make a big splash this year, specifically in the mobile payment sector. With offerings like Google Wallet and the impending launch of Isis products, expect NFC to be one of the big trends in 2012.