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Are Cashless Payments Right For Your Live Event?

At Music Midtown in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia, attendees could purchase merchandise, food, and beverage with just a simple flick of the wrist.

This past weekend Music Midtown took place in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia. In partnership with Bank of America the festival offered cashless payments through guests wristbands. All weekend long attendees could purchase merchandise, food, and beverage with just a simple flick of the wrist. Bank of America cardholders could also enjoy an exclusive lounge if they linked Bank of America card to their wristband. Those with an iPhone could even use Apple Pay, which would not require any extra steps if they already have it set up.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has transformed the festival world. Wristbands with this equipment have allowed for speedier check in processes, tracking of guest preferences, and cashless payments. Activation of a cashless payment system requires events and vendors to purchase and implement the technology ahead of time. Participants activate their wristbands by registering them online and loading them up with funds before the festival or connecting them to a credit card. This system was first introduced back in 2011 at Sziget festival in Hungary. These type of cashless systems help to reduce the amount of time spent paying, increase security since patrons and merchants carry no cash, and potentially increase profits. It is also a system that is gaining immense popularity. In 2017 at Tomorrowland in Belgium TPI Magazine reported that over 920,000 cashless payments were made using the festival bracelets over the two weekend event.

Cashless Payments Provide Ease of Use

There is nothing worse than being at an event and seeing a long line for anything. What is even more terrible is when you are the next in line and the person in front of you is taking an extremely long time to dig through their bag, find their wallet, count the right amount of cash needed, and then wait to receive their change. Even if they pay with card they still need to find their card, swipe it, sign for it, and receive it back. Data provided by Intellitix shows that events the implement a cashless system reduce the amount of time is takes to pay from 90 seconds to just 15 seconds. This is great news for consumers who want to wait in line less and vendors who want to serve more customers.

Another thing that can hold up a line is when the system is down or if there is poor connectivity. This creates a lag time and slows down lines drastically if a merchant has to wait to connect in order to process payments. For events another huge advantage is that payments using RFID can work off of a closed loop system which means that they do not require network connectivity in order to process in real time. This is especially helpful for events in remote locations or who have issues with maintaining a strong connection on site. Reducing time it takes for the system to process payments is one more way that cashless payments increase efficiency on site.

Apple Pay is another form of cashless payments that is also easy for consumers to use since they do not have to complete any extra steps if they already have it set up on their phone. However, this might not be an optimal solution since this service is limited to only those with an iPhone. Also, given all the other uses ones phone has the likelihood of the battery dying and someone being left with no way to pay is increased. This is why cashless systems that utilize RFID wristband technology is a more favorable option.  

Increased security with Cashless Payments

Not only is a simple flick of the wrist easy when it comes time to pay it also eliminates other hassles like having to take money out of an ATM and reduces the risk of lost cards since it is attached to the person via wristband. Reducing the amount of cash that patrons and vendors have on hand is safer for everyone. For merchants it can also decrease costs associated like needing to hire a secure transport service to help with deposits post festival. Unfortunately, large events are a hotbed for pickpockets. With so many people confined to one space and most with their inhibitions lowered, opportunities for theft are greatly increased. For customers, cashless means that they can leave their wallets at home, lowering the risk of them losing it or getting it stolen.

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Cashless Payments are More Profitable Through Data

A study done by Intellitix showed that vendors can gain an increase of 15-30% in on-site revenue by using a cashless payment system. This rise in sales is mostly attributed to how much simpler it is for vendors and patrons. Since it’s easier to make a purchase, customers are more likely to complete more transactions. Merchants are also able to collect data in real time that they can use to optimize their sales strategies. One successful example of this is Vanfest in Australia. The festival implemented a cashless system in order to reduce queues and have a system that could operate offline. At the end of the event they saw 85% of attendees activate their wristband on the first day, a 23% increase in spend from consumers on food, beverage, and merchandise vendors, and overall a 16% increase in total event revenue.

“It was amazing to see sales data live across all bars & vendors and nice to know that cash wouldn’t go missing for the first time…In my eyes, this alone pays for the implementation of RFID on site.”  – Matt Clifton, Vanfest Founder

Cashless payment systems can help live events drastically cut down their lines for food, drink, and merchandise. Patrons can simply “tap and go” whenever they want to make a purchase. While this may be a larger up front investment, studies have shown that it can lead to more revenue overall. Another huge advantage is that these systems do not require connection to an online network. They also increase the overall security of an event as no cash is needed to be on site. Overall a cashless payment system can make a better experience for both attendees and event organizers alike.

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