Cashless – the best formula for your event!

Cashless – the best formula for your event!

Table of con­tents

  1. Choos­ing a pay­ment ecosys­tem
  2. Which price pol­i­cy?
  3. Should you choose a name?
  4. Which NFC device should I choose?
  5. Where should we hand out the pre-loaded NFC devices?
  6. How to set-up banks?

Once costs and ben­e­fits (link) have been thor­ough­ly analysed and the meth­ods of roll-out and train­ing (link) are well under­stood, we can now talk about the cash­less sys­tem in a prac­ti­cal way. How do you phys­i­cal­ly set it up? Which for­mu­la is best suit­ed to you?

Each event thinks and imple­ments their cash­less pay­ment sys­tem in their image, there is no uni­ver­sal­ly right way to go about it. The best approach is one that is designed with the event manager’s wish­es and require­ments in mind, so as to end up with a tai­lored sys­tem.

1.    Choosing a payment ecosystem

One of the first choic­es to make is that of the pay­ment ecosys­tem.

Actu­al­ly, there are three imple­men­ta­tion sce­nar­ios:

  • 100% cash­less: That is the most pop­u­lar mode nowa­days, because it is also the sim­plest for atten­dees. Cash­less pay­ment is manda­to­ry and exclu­sive at all points of sale. This sce­nario allows for speedy trans­ac­tions and offers the pos­si­bil­i­ty to oper­ate entire­ly offline if need­ed. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, so crit­i­cal for a first edi­tion, is also made eas­i­er.
  • No cash: This is a hybrid mode where­by atten­dees can either pay by bank card or cash­less at points of sale, or using mobile pay­ment sys­tems such as Lyt­Pay or PayLib. This solu­tion was adopt­ed by the Fan Zone of the 2016 Euro­pean Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship in Paris. The ben­e­fit of that sys­tem is the absence of cash at all points of sale while main­tain­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty for atten­dees to use the cash­less pay­ment sys­tem or not.
  • Pay as you like: All means of pay­ments are allowed in addi­tion to cash­less. This is rec­om­mend­ed if the cash­less pay­ment sys­tem is used only by mem­bers of a club or by a select­ed seg­ment of the atten­dees. Use of the cash­less pay­ment sys­tem must then be incen­tivized with a series of ben­e­fits, such as ded­i­cat­ed queues or spe­cif­ic dis­counts. If it can be reas­sur­ing by leav­ing atten­dees the pos­si­bil­i­ty to use their usu­al means of pay­ments, this sce­nario often leads to low lev­els of adop­tion of a cash­less device, which can then be counter-pro­duc­tive con­sid­er­ing the lev­el of invest­ment made and the pos­i­tive impact we are deprived of.

2. Which price policy?

The price pol­i­cy is also a deci­sion to be made by the event plan­ner. Should you charge acti­va­tion fees? Should you charge refund pro­cess­ing fees? What time­line to set for refund requests?

All com­bi­na­tions exist. While it is com­mon to apply £1 as acti­va­tion fees, it is quite rare to ask for refund pro­cess­ing fees. It is often poor­ly per­ceived by the pub­lic and does not encour­age adop­tion of the sys­tem.

Some events, such as the Vieilles Char­rues fes­ti­val have opt­ed for a ful­ly free sys­tem for fes­ti­val goers and auto­mat­i­cal­ly process refunds after the fes­ti­val to the bank card reg­is­tered by the cash­less account user.

The most com­mon mode is to apply a £1 acti­va­tion fee at first top-up and to leave 2 weeks to atten­dees to ask for a refund of their out­stand­ing bal­ance online.

3. Should you choose a name?

While the major­i­ty of event man­agers use the term “cash­less” to call this sys­tem, oth­ers have designed a ded­i­cat­ed name and logo!

Here are some exam­ples of cash­less brand­ing and names rein­forc­ing the uni­verse cre­at­ed by the event:

  • John E‑Cash: Fes­ti­val Beau­re­gard
  •  P2N Pay&Play: Fes­ti­val Papil­lons de Nuit
  • Mon­eiz: Fes­ti­val des Vieilles Char­rues
  • Celti’Cash: Fes­ti­val Inter­cel­tique de Lori­ent
  • Bobi­cash: Fes­ti­val Bobital
  • No Cash In Hell: Fes­ti­val Hellfest

These names inte­grate the cash­less pay­ment sys­tem into the over­all com­mu­ni­ca­tion cam­paign of the event. A fun name, aligned with the event’s iden­ti­ty encour­ages cash­less adop­tion. The term “cash­less”, how­ev­er neu­tral, can be poor­ly per­ceived because of the “cash” root of the word being too asso­ci­at­ed with mon­ey.

The nam­ing strat­e­gy can be so effi­cient as to spread. It is not uncom­mon for fes­ti­val-goers to speak of Mon­eiz — the cash­less sys­tem of the Vieilles Char­rues fes­ti­val — in oth­er areas of Brit­tany.

4. Which NFC device should I choose?

NFC chips can be inte­grat­ed to a lot of items: keyrings, glass­es, neck­laces, sil­i­con watch­es, or a sim­ple stick­er.

But in the con­text of cul­tur­al events and fes­ti­vals, cards and wrist­bands are the most pop­u­lar among event man­agers and atten­dees alike.

Here are some con­sid­er­a­tions to help you choose the most suit­able NFC device:

Ben­e­fits Draw­backs
NFC cards
  • Low­er cost
  • Can be shared (e.g. for the whole fam­i­ly)
  • Large com­mu­ni­ca­tion space (e.g. for spon­sors)
  • High­er risk of loss
  • No rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with access con­trol
NFC wrist­bands
  • Con­ve­nient use high­ly appre­ci­at­ed by the pub­lic
  • Less fraud
  • Low­er risk of loss
  • Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with access con­trol
  • High­er cost
  • Can­not be shared (e.g. by the whole fam­i­ly)
  • Some dis­putes to replace wrist­bands that are too tight or for peo­ple work­ing in hos­pi­tals who can­not keep the wrist­band for the whole dura­tion of the event

An expert look!

Although slight­ly more expen­sive at first, the cost of imple­ment­ing wrist­bands can be man­aged by lim­it­ing the num­ber of series. Instead of pro­duc­ing 10 dif­fer­ent kinds of wrist­bands, you can pro­duce NFC wrist­bands with a unique design and still man­age dif­fer­ent type of access thanks to the data stored on the chip.

5. Where should we hand out the pre-loaded NFC devices?

Who says top-up ahead of time, says hand­ing out NFC devices. But be care­ful, remem­ber that one of the promis­es of cash­less is speed and flow! This step is there­fore crit­i­cal to a good user expe­ri­ence.

We have iden­ti­fied 5 sce­nar­ios to hand out the NFC devices:

  • At cash­less banks: Atten­dees show their tick­et at any cash­less bank to pick-up their pre-loaded NFC device. This sce­nario is quite dis­ap­point­ing because it requires atten­dees to queue like every­one else. They are not reward­ed for hav­ing topped-up ahead of time.
  • At ded­i­cat­ed kiosks: Atten­dees show their tick­et at a ded­i­cat­ed kiosk. A tempt­ing sce­nario on paper which can quick­ly turn to dis­ap­point­ment if the kiosk is not the right size or if these kiosks are hard to spot and locate. The night­mare sce­nario would be to have small­er queues at the gen­er­al banks than at the ded­i­cat­ed kiosks. Fur­ther­more, in the case of a mul­ti­day event, kiosks are often under­used after day 1.
  • At access con­trol points: Atten­dees show their tick­et at access con­trol points, if they have pre-loaded their cash­less account then the NFC device will be hand­ed out imme­di­ate­ly. That way, atten­dees only wait once, and as soon as they are on site they are ready to pur­chase food & drinks with­out hav­ing to queue anoth­er time. The promise of flow is met. The attendee doesn’t even have to think about it, it’s mag­i­cal! How­ev­er, the oper­a­tion on the first day is longer than a sim­ple scan and this must be antic­i­pat­ed to adjust your entrance con­trol.
  • After the entrance: Atten­dees show their tick­et once at access con­trol, then once more a few metres down the road to pick-up their NFC device. While this sce­nario enables a good flow for the attendee in prac­tice, it also requires a lot of staff because there are two teams at the entrance.
  • At home (mail­ing): Atten­dees receive their device at home by mail. While this improves the expe­ri­ence, it also increas­es expens­es sig­nif­i­cant­ly. This sce­nario works for events that are sold-out well ahead of time.

6. How to set-up banks?

   1. How many cashless banks?

In the­o­ry, it seems obvi­ous that a high num­ber of banks is a good option. After all, more banks mean a bet­ter user expe­ri­ence. They don’t have to walk far to find a bank.

In prac­tice, we have seen the con­trary. A high num­ber of banks means dif­fer­ences in wait­ing times. Some banks are over­crowd­ed while oth­ers are under­used. And this is empha­sised by the sched­ul­ing and the move­ments of the audi­ence from one space to anoth­er.

It is always bet­ter to set up one large bank in an area that is not too crowd­ed, even if that means the audi­ence has to walk a bit more. This also tends to lim­it the num­ber of top-ups and there­fore reduce infra­struc­ture and secu­ri­ty costs.

Cre­at­ing a media area close to this unique bank with a Wi-fi hotspot can enable atten­dees to eas­i­ly top-up their account online.

2. What kind of equipment should you choose?

The choice of equip­ment has a strong impact on the user expe­ri­ence. There are 2 types of cash ter­mi­nals:

  • Fixed point of sale sys­tems: Those are dif­fi­cult to roll-out because they need to be fixed to coun­ters and require a pow­er sup­ply and night watch, which is why fixed point of sale sys­tems are main­ly used for long-term events or per­ma­nent infra­struc­tures. They also have the draw­back of not being high­ly suit­able for the use of NFC wrist­bands because they require the attendee to phys­i­cal­ly move all the way to the point of sale sys­tem. Also, there are often few­er point of sale sys­tems than bar­tenders, cre­at­ing a bot­tle­neck in the ser­vice and, thus, impact­ing the user expe­ri­ence.
  • Mobile ter­mi­nals: On the con­trary, mobile ter­mi­nals allow for easy roll-out and trans­porta­tion. Work­ing on bat­tery, they pro­vide high­ly flex­i­ble use. The bar­tender approach­es the device to the atten­dee’s wrist­band or card to process the pay­ment and not the oth­er way around. Each bar­tender has their own device so as not to be delayed by co-work­ers pro­cess­ing oth­er cus­tomers’ pay­ments.

Keep an eye out for a future post address­ing how to success­fully roll out cash­less sys­tems!

To go fur­ther and find out more about cash­less sys­tems, down­load our free white paper here.

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Cashless — much more than a payment solution

Payment is but a small part of the possible uses that “cashless” enables. Its main interest lays in building a complete eco-system. Integrating cashless to your event requires involvement of your entire organization, it enables you to not only manage your organisation but also develop new areas such as access control, management of specific audiences and partner activations for a richer user-experience.

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