Rating: It doesn’t look too good, captain
The GSMA (which organises the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show here in Barcelona) has gone to great lengths to help the spread of NFC technology here in Barcelona. The whole objective is to make life a whole lot simpler thanks to the use of ‘contactless’ technology in the shape of NFC (Near Field Communication). We’re not contactless refuseniks here at GoMobile Towers – because we happily use an Oyster RF card to get around London’s transportation system. However, we couldn’t see much benefit from our use of NFC in Barcelona.
The whole promotion of this technology has been labelled the ‘NFC Experience’ by the GSMA.
Just to show willing, GoMobile News downloaded the relevant ‘NFC Badge’ app before reaching Catalonia.
The whole experience was negative, however.
Despite having received multiple emails assuring us that our pre-registration was successful, when we ran the NFC Badge app it seemed to want all our information over again.
We didn’t supply it and guess what. When we tried to obtain our badge from the Fast Track badge collection service, we were told our application was ‘incomplete’.
Once we had recovered from this situation, we obtained our badge and then attempted to use NFC to enter the convention on the Sunday.
The security staff then informed us that none of the installed readers was working that day.
Anway, that evening (Sunday), we received an email from the GSMA informing us that our NFC Badge was definitely at Green status.
Luckily, we are such cynics that we didn’t believe it and brought our passport anyway.
On arrival at the event, our attempt to gain entry using the NFC badge failed.
Instead, we had to go to yet another desk and show the NFC Badge app to a young woman.
She asked to see our passport and then validated our NFC Badge app so that (finally) the app’s icon really did turn from orange to green.
Incidentally, in order for this to work we had to be connected to the network – so logging onto the show’s free Wi-fi service was a prerequisite. No-one had mentioned that before.
On the second day the NFC badge app did work although we had to manually fire-up our handset’s NFC capability.
The most shocking discovery however, came from a chance encounter with a man demonstrating his NFC card reader.
He claimed not only to be able to read all the data from our MWC badge, but he could change it to.
In effect, by scanning another attendees Gold badge he could have given us an illicit upgrade.
Not wishing to be permanently barred from future GSMA events, we took the decision to decline this kind offer.
Sounds like a bit of a security hole to us.