NFC Forum Member Spotlight

Ivan Lazarev Was There In The Early Days; Remains Bullish On NFC

Ivan Lazarev was first introduced to Near Field Communication (NFC) in 2005 in a backroom, private meeting at the Excel Center in London under a non-disclosure agreement.  It proved to be a seminal moment in his career.

Since then, Lazarev built ITN International, a successful event data management company that was purchased last year by NFC Forum member Aventri.  The two entities combined and created one of world’s largest event registration companies with clients like Mobile World Congress, Microsoft Ignite and Cisco Live.  Lazarev serves as the company’s Group Head for Experiential Solutions.

Today, Tomorrow and NFC

Today, Aventri offers a cloud platform that is truly revolutionizing the events marketplace with its flexible, software providing more control and management.

Tomorrow, Aventri wants to be known as the data analytics platform for event producers.

The one constant in all this ferment of creation and growth for Lazarev has been NFC.

We interviewed Lazarev recently to get his perspective on NFC technology and where he believes it can go and how the NFC Forum can play a role.

Ivan, you’ve been one of the biggest proponents of NFC technology in the trade show world.  Why is that?

I think it was 2007 when Nokia produced the first “chocolate bar phone”, the 6212, with NFC in it.  We bought 2,000 of those mobile phones.  NFC just literally transformed my company.  You could say I bet my business on NFC.  We were the first to use NFC for event management at CTIA – The Wireless Industry Association, Mobile World Congress and many of the Microsoft events.  We tested every single phone that came out with NFC in it including Samsung and now Apple.  I think it was in 2012 when we switched to solely NFC Data Exchange Format as our encoding mechanism. We stay close to the NFC Forum so we know what is in the pipeline.

What’s the biggest difference for NFC from the early days in 2005 to 2020?

Today, the NFC ecosystem is fully functional and the gap between the versatility of NFC vs QR codes is steadily growing.   I stayed with NFC because it can do things that QR codes can’t.  It can read and write at the same time and you can develop applications.  Frankly, “touch” is better than a camera scan.  It is easier and works better.  NFC allows you to create a true value proposition.  In all the years we’ve been working with top tier trade shows every user that tried NFC never went back to QR codes except for one client that actually never took full advantage of NFC.

What’s next for NFC?  What do you see in the future for the technology?

NFC is not going away. It’s actually getting stronger. And that’s because of many things but, for me, it’s about the Wallet experience.  iOS 13 was certainly a game changer in that regard. We have a lot more control over what we can do with NFC, what we can do with our apps, and access to the Wallet is also easier because of the event PASS.

This is why the Wallet experience is a difference-maker for the future.  We all know that you can now load your hotel key in your wallet. You can load tickets for your movie theaters for example — a completely secure ticketless experience.  I think it is Wallet-like applications that will propel us forward toward our collective goal of getting NFC technology where it needs to be – a part of people’s lives every day, around the world.