You may not know this but cashless is not new! At the end of the 50’s, Club Med launched its proprietary payment system, the “collier-bar” (meaning “necklace-bar”). Made up of plastic beads in a variety of colours (where each colour represented a different value), this necklace allowed people to pay at all points of sale within Club Med resorts. The goal? Making payments easier and more fun, while reducing the flow of cash in its resorts. Thanks to this system, holidaymakers could pay for their purchases, even from the pool and — more importantly — without having to get their wallets out. A fun and convenient concept!
The term “cashless” is characterized by the exchange of funds by electronic methods rather than the use of cash. But the concept involves a lot more!
A dematerialised payment solution
We have identified three ways to use cashless:
- Implementation of payment terminals (or Point of Sale terminals): Traditional bank and contactless cards are indeed an effective way to pay without using cash, and these are now accepted at most events. It is now possible to pay with a smartphone — via ApplePay or Google Wallet — using this type of terminal. According to this definition, cashless is everywhere!
- Implementation of a private currency: Very popular at the end of the noughties, tokens and drinks vouchers marked the beginning of a solution to issues of cash counting and safety of cashflows at events.
- Implementation of a private currency, through NFC payment: Although similar to tokens in the way it operates for the attendees (exchange kiosks), the introduction of NFC primarily enables the digitization of money within the scope of the event, as well as the implementation of other online services (such as tracking purchases in real time, or online top-up).
More than a dematerialised currency
Implementing a cashless payment system at an event is much more than creating a currency and setting up a fun way to pay.
Because of its technological nature, introducing a cashless NFC payment system means implementing point of sales systems at all points of sale of the event. A true revolution! Prior to cashless systems, events had to set-up hundreds of cash registers with actual cash (usually wooden or plastic boxes) and dozens of payment terminals. Cash collection was operated by CIT security staff to limit the risk of theft… Not to mention that, in addition to security risks, cash management was highly inaccurate and did not allow for real time sales tracking.
Therefore, cashless is more akin to the birth of a digital ecosystem rather than just another payment method. Viewing cashless only as a payment system restricts the number of services that NFC technology can offer.
Cashless is also a communication tool, in the same way that the Club Med necklaces were. Creating a private currency strengthens the feeling of community among the audience and creates new communication opportunities.
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.