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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