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The availability of NFC contactless payment (Restaurant POS, Front Desk, Kiosk), and NFC contactless access control (guest room doors, parking garages, elevators, meeting rooms, gyms, spas, front doors etc.) in hotels to reduce the need to touch shared surfaces that allow the transmission of coronavirus is both an urgent need, and an intelligent response, to one of the most significant issues that the hospitality industry has ever faced: coronavirus transmission and COVID-19 . Importantly also, NFC contactless, if widely implemented, would demonstrate that the hospitality industry has the well-being of its guests and employees front of mind once hotels start to emerge from lock-down. 

As millions across America practice social distancing, hotels and Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) are faced with the overall challenge of supporting their community and planning for the post-COVID-19 rebound. In addition to working directly with meeting planners, CVBs often report and forecast tourism for the entire community. CVBs play an integral role in the education and knowledge of upcoming events and trends in their community.

Shine is that light within you. It motivates us and it brightens our path. When we are down, afraid or experiencing unknown territory, it is what you say to yourself (your beliefs and thoughts) that determines if your light will stay bright or fade. 

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) announced last Wednesday during a press conference to industry media that the organization will consolidate its three major annual events to one location over a four-day period in October, and will call it, “The Best of HFTP.” 

2020 is a year like no other — at least we hope so. At the end of 2019, who could have imagined what would happen to our industry. Smart hoteliers were planning for the possibility of a small downturn. Smarter hoteliers were considering how to steal share before a downturn took hold. Either way, a global pandemic was not in anyone’s plans.



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Apple iOS NFC Contactless Access Control (coronavirus response)

by Nick Price
The availability of NFC contactless payment (Restaurant POS, Front Desk, Kiosk), and NFC contactless access control (guest room doors, parking garages, elevators, meeting rooms, gyms, spas, front doors etc.) in hotels to reduce the need to touch shared surfaces that allow the transmission of coronavirus is both an urgent need, and an intelligent response, to one of the most significant issues that the hospitality industry has ever faced: coronavirus transmission and COVID-19 . Importantly also, NFC contactless, if widely implemented, would demonstrate that the hospitality industry has the well-being of its guests and employees front of mind once hotels start to emerge from lock-down. 

NFC payment is everywhere in Retail, via Apple Pay, Android Pay, and other similar products, as well as being the technology enabling contactless smart cards, and if the newsfeeds are to be believed, the demand for NFC contactless payment has dramatically increased since the onset of the current coronavirus pandemic (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6). But it's not just contactless payment that is driving NFC contactless implementation success, we now also see increasing adoption, and milestone implementations for NFC contactless, across a number of adjacent industries: Mass Transit (7)(8) , Student and Employee ID (9)(10)(11)(12) , Sports Ticketing and Event Access Control (13)(14), even Automotive contactless vehicle keys (15)(16)(17).  It is a reasonable takeaway from newsfeed after newsfeed that the time for NFC contactless technology is now, and that coronavirus and COVID-19 have only focused minds and brought forward inevitable investments to match consumer demand.  

Surprisingly however, nowhere across any of the technology or industry news feeds, do we find any mention of another equally obvious and hugely important market – Global Hospitality. The widespread acceptance of contactless mobile apps in daily life means that millions of potential hotel guests now have prior experience of using NFC contactless technology and are aware of its many benefits. Many of these potential guests must now be starting to wonder when, if ever, such capabilities will be made available in hotels. 

The global hospitality industry has been very severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and the travellers that are now slowly starting to rebook and appear in hotel lobbies are understandably cautious when entering shared spaces such as hotel front desks, elevators, guest rooms and restaurants. Anything that the hotel industry can do to address these obvious concerns and increase guest-confidence while staying in hotels, is a smart thing to do at this time. 

The same NFC contactless technologies now in rapid rollout in other sectors can be easily addressed to specific hotel needs such as check-in, elevator and door access control, restaurant menu and payment, and will be seen as an intelligent and reasoned response to a physical contact problem that will be with us for the foreseeable future. NFC contactless, low-cost, and quick to implement when compared against alternatives being simply RFID on a phone or watch, is a can-do, must-do-now, option for most hotels. 

There is only one problem - Apple devices: although NFC works for payment (Apple Pay), Apple has not yet extended its implementation to permit NFC Access control in hotels via the Apple Wallet. The required functionality and API's are present in the current iOS release (release 13). All that is required from Apple is its willingness to digitally authorize (via digital certificate) hotel RFID/NFC keys such that they may be added to the Apple Wallet to be used in place of physical RFID cards. (note: the key card is present in the Wallet and so there is no requirement for a hotel App to control key access. NFC access control is therefore available to all hotels - no app required). (note also that Android already provides the necessary NFC Access control capability). 

Now is the time for the hotel industry to speak with one voice and request help from Apple. This could be a game-changer. 

References: 
1.       https://www.paymentssource.com/opinion/its-not-just-coronavirus-thats-accelerating-contactless-payments 
2.      https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanmckee/2020/05/11/contactless/ 
3.      https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-contactless-payments-market--covid-19-study-2020---historical-growth-estimation-deviations-due-to-the-pandemic-301042155.html 
4.      https://www.nfcw.com/2020/03/26/366173/table-contactless-payment-transaction-limit-increases-around-the-world/ 
5.      https://www.nfcw.com/2020/03/23/366122/germans-switch-to-contactless-payments-amid-coronavirus-concerns/ 
6.      https://www.pymnts.com/visa/2020/visas-new-fast-track-class-and-building-a-more-accessible-digital-world/ 
7.      https://www.nfcw.com/2019/12/02/365169/apple-pay-express-mode-rolls-out-across-london/ 
8.      https://www.nfcw.com/2020/04/14/366307/apple-pay-express-transit-payments-roll-out-to-275-cities-across-china/ 
9.      https://www.nfcw.com/2020/02/10/365725/south-dakota-state-university-rolls-out-iphone-nfc-ids/ 
10.   https://www.nfcw.com/2020/02/03/365641/mercer-university-reports-on-iphone-nfc-id-adoption/ 
11.   https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/08/apple-brings-contactless-student-ids-on-iphone-and-apple-watch-to-more-universities/ 
12.   https://www.hidglobal.com/solutions/access-control/hid-mobile-access-solutions 
13.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUl2BOn28So 
14.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi5naoCH4RY 
15.   https://www.nfcw.com/2020/05/07/366483/car-connectivity-consortium-unveils-nfc-digital-key-specification/ 
16.   https://www.nfcw.com/2020/03/10/365996/nxp-launches-nfc-digital-car-key-solution/ 
17.   https://www.nfcw.com/2020/02/25/365867/apple-to-let-vehicle-owners-share-nfc-car-keys-via-messages/  
About The Author
Nick Price
CEO
NetSys Technology Limited


 
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