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Contactless payment technology to be introduced at UK festivals

Contactless payment technology to be introduced at UK festivals
Date of Publication: Monday, 28 June 2010 13:28

According to the BBC, as of next summer music festivals in the UK will stop accepting cash as a form of payment during the events.

The new alternative to cash will require festival goers to pay for everything electronically, from food and drink to accessories and fairground attractions.

It is thought that consumers will be able to make payments using a wristband, which will also act as the event ticket, which will be pre-loaded with money, much like prepaid credit cards.

UK trials of the new technology have been carried out over the past two years.

The 100% cash free festival scheme has not yet been confirmed by event promoters, however one of the companies behind the technology said two well known UK festivals would "definitely" eliminate money by summer 2011.

Barclaycard, which sponsors the Wireless Festival in London, will be demonstrating the technology at this year's event and said it was "very hopeful" that the event will be completely cash-free next year.

Download Festival has also been trying out the technology in parts of its event and is expected to phase the new scheme in next year.

The firm's chief operating officer for UK music, John Probyn, said there was "no race" to be the first in the push into cashless festivals.

"Trials went very well this year, much better than we thought. Now we have to assess where we go from here," he said

Mr Probyn added that ideally the new system should have been launched at Download in 2009, but the firm "backed off", after deciding not to go in alone as to avoid the risks of others refusing to adopt the technology.

Festival Republic - which manages some of the biggest events in the UK including Reading and Leeds festivals - trialed a cash-free event at the Hove festival in Norway last year.

Managing director Melvin Benn said: "It was very straight forward, there was no opposition at all

"The reality is that we are all looking at cashless activity in the UK. It will definitely happen. It's just a matter of time."

There were mixed reactions from music fans at Glastonbury Festival this year.

"I'm not confident about the safety of it - they'd have to prove to me it was secure. If they could do that, it sounds like a good idea," said Emma Trueman, 47, from Dorset.

Catherine Lester, 29, from London, said: "I would be a bit worried about my spending getting out of control, but it's better than carrying lots of cash."

Matt Popping, 26, said he thought the idea made sense, "so long as you can get back any money you don't spend."

The concept uses radio frequency identification (RFID) systems by embedding a microchip into the wristband or ticket.

Festival organisers have been optimistic about the security implications, noting that they will also help in the fight against counterfeit tickets.

Other benefits are thought to include:

• removing the need for festival goers to carry around millions of pounds in cash on festival sites, which is not only a security risk but is also expensive to transport and guard

• reducing theft and fraud by staff working at festivals

• speeding up sales in bars, while allowing management to monitor stock levels in real-time

• providing greater control for special privilege such as entry backstage or VIP areas.

The new scheme is planned allow users to transfer any money left over on the card money left on the device back to their bank accounts and also lets customers freeze their account if it is lost.

Other options may include allowing any left over funds to be used after the festival, for things like buying a CD, or saving it for another event run by the same promoter.

Cashless payments are no strangers to those of us that travel around London using an Oyster card. Similar systems are also found in a number of places including universities to golf clubs.

David McWilliams of Redtech, one of the companies contended with providing the service said: "A lot of young people do not carry much cash and use their chip and pin cards to pay for everything,"

"But because we're used to our festival experience with money being very low-tech, it will take some education because the idea of going cashless in a field is totally new."

He added that although no less than two UK festivals will be using it in 2011 - it would take at least five years before it was at every festival.

"For it to work, the event has to be entirely cashless and it needs to be large so that you get the scale to make it cost-effective," Mr McWilliams said.

"It's definitely doable, so long as enough information is given to people well in advance."

Written by Sam Gooch

Monday, 28 June 2010 13:28
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