Local movie theatre company Ster Kinekor proudly announced a few months ago that its mobile application, through which users can keep track of new releases and purchase movie tickets, had reached one million downloads. It also promised that more innovation was on the way.

Now those promises are coming to fruition, with its plans for electronic tickets. Last week the Ster Kinekor app was updated to support Apple’s Passbook system for electronic ticketing. The electronic ticket wallet for Apple’s devices is currently being tested by a handful of Ster Kinekor customers, and should be rolled out in the next six to nine months. It’s a small touch – and is only available to iPhone owners – but sets an example that we hope other local companies will also follow.

In overseas markets Passbook is used extensively by airlines, which let their respective iPhone applications push digital boarding passes to the Passbook. This means travellers don’t have to deal with the hassle of paper passes: a simple swipe on the lock screen of an iPhone reveals the relevant pass, at the relevant time, and digital scanning equipment will scan the barcode that’s display on screen. In the US, Starbucks lets customers keep their loyalty and payments cards in Passbook, making contactless payments a breeze.

The cinema chain has also been rolling out an electronic ticketing systems (which will integrate with the iPhone and Passbook). Ster Kinekor was the first cinema chain in the world to roll out self-service terminals, letting customers buy their movie tickets and select their own seats using a touch-screen terminal, and it aims to innovate some more with the addition of electronic tickets. These will be barcodes printed on tickets, which are then scanned at the cinema’s entrance.

Doug Place, marketing executive at Ster Kinekor Cinemas, says that they’re still in the people business, though. There will still be staff to greet moviegoers when they arrive and leave, but the electronic scanning system will be there to make things run more smoothly. It’ll also be the same scanning systems that check barcodes on iPhones, through Passbook.

That’s not all, though. The Ster Kinekor app is also found on other smartphones, and Place says that BlackBerry, Android, and Windows Phone devices and the company will be rolling out its electronic ticketing on this platforms, too – albeit without the convenience of Passbook. Nonetheless, it’ll be one way to save paper while gaining a lot in terms of convenience.

Now, if only we could get printed barcodes to pay for the popcorn, Coke, and chocolate combos…

Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.