Guest Blog: Steve Daly | Five Reasons Why Cashless Festivals are on the Up

Steve Daly, head of RFID tech at custom wristband suppliers lD&C, takes a look at the reasons behind the cashless festival boom. 1 1. New Revenues There’s no hiding the fact that RFID cashless technology is proven to increase revenues for festival promoters (as much as 15-30% per head additional spend*). And, with artist fees and production costs at new highs, I’m sure organizers are seeking new ways to generate revenue. * Last summer, SFX-owned EDM behemoths TomorrowWorld and Mysteryland introduced cashless wristbands, while Chicago’s Lollapalooza went a step further and branded its cashless payment system ‘Lolla Dollars’. Now, in 2015, the appetite is stronger still. In our London headquarters we’re working closely with a number of major UK festivals that are going fully cashless this summer, while our US team is seeing a huge uptake across the entire country, into Canada and in South America too. Besides the stats published on the potential earnings from cashless, RFID systems also present new opportunities for sponsorship and brand activations. Using RFID to link a festival wristband to an individual ticketholder opens up a data goldmine for organizers. This ‘smart data’ is invaluable to an event and can become a lucrative tool for F&B sales, promotions, sponsorship, ticket sales… the list goes on. 2 2. Security & Safety The RFID technology used in cashless payment systems is like Fort Knox for your wrist. Getting drunk with $300 strapped to your arm wouldn’t normally be advisable. However, each band is printed with a secure UID, representing a deeply encrypted access key to each ticket holder’s profile. And this profile is stored on a heavily encrypted backend system. So, go wild, let loose – your money and your data is safe. RFID companies now have bank grade security in place too. Unfortunately, festivals, like any other enormous gathering of people, can be a hunting ground for thieves. But…RFID is a good deterrent. Eliminating cash from site not only makes life easier for your fans, it makes life safer too. For promoters, eliminating physical cash from a festival site eradicates the risk of it being stolen. Any admin costs associated with moving or processing the cash are wiped out too. Win win! 3 3. Multiple Integrations One benefit of a cashless wristband payment system is that it’s rarely a one-trick pony. In fact, most RFID systems we’ve provided wristbands for, have had the capability of integrating with numerous other digital platforms. Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, Shazam, Deezer, iBeacons, LED lights, and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) are just some of the technologies we’ve seen integrated across one single RFID system and one single RFID wristband. 4. Technology & Cost The RFID hardware supplier market has created more supply than demand. This has helped to drive down costs for promoters. I can speak specifically about the wristbands themselves, which have reduced in price by over 50% in the past 3 years. Market competition has also led hardware suppliers to differentiate their product, introducing unique features and even run promotions – resulting in improved and more robust technology, and choice for organizers. By the end of 2014, we had shipped over 8 million RFID units to over 100 events around the world, a number reflective of the demand for a technology, which only two years ago was a grey area for many festival promoters. And while the laws of supply and demand have affected the price, the opposite can be said for the quality and robustness of our wristbands, which has improved significantly. 5 5. Consumer Confidence Cashless payments amongst every-day consumers are growing at an unprecedented rate. Here in the UK, high-street bank, Halifax recently reported that 84% of all transactions on its current accounts (personal debit accounts) are made via methods of cashless payment. The bank also reported that paying via contactless is the fastest growing of these methods, accounting for £15 in every £100 spent. In the US, research into mobile payment services revealed that Apple Pay was the preferred choice for consumers planning to transact via their smartphone. All signs point towards a revolution in payments. And, the contactless technology we use to buy our morning coffee with is now expected to work at a football game or music festival. None of us want to sacrifice that feeling of escapism a festival creates. But, the fact is, unless you’re at Burning Man, you’re going to need to pay for things with money. And, if technology can make this easier, faster and safer for patrons, then guess what, they’ll spend more… and still have a great time. ID&C are attending CMW. To arrange a meet-up, contact Steve or Caleb at steveSteve is co-owner and Head of RFID at ID&C Ltd – a leading security wristband specialist. He has a background in telecommunications start-ups and spent 7 years at a London based management consultancy. At ID&C, Steve developed a new range of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) products that were first to market at Coachella Music Festival, Lollapalooza & Austin City Limits in 2011. Since the, ID&C’s products have supported projects, brand activations and social media campaigns for over 300 events in 25 countries on 5 continents.
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