EB Live November issue : cashless payment special

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‘The rise of cashless festivals is inevitable’

Sometimes, the future’s anything but uncertain. For instance, Glownet dares to predict with certainty that cashless payment will be the new standard for festivals. And according to the international market leader for cashless payment solutions, the Netherlands is already ahead in adopting the new standard.

Imagine a city that would construct an ultra-modern metro network, where travelers could only pay with cash or tokens. “People would start questioning in what century they’re living in again”, says Glownet’s CEO Scott Witters.

The comparison clearly illustrates the point that we’re about to reach in the festival industry. Hitting 1 million activations earlier this year, across 166 events, Glownet is seeing an ever-increasing adoption of cashless, year by year. “People are already used to waving their smartphone or wireless bank card when they’re buying a coffee somewhere. And it won’t be long before paying with cash or tokens at a festival will be seen as hopelessly outdated.”
The most important benefit, as Scott points out, is that cashless payment improves the personal experience of festival visitors. Say goodbye to long queues to get a new stash of tokens or cash at the machines, experience quick and easy payments at the bar, never worry again about theft or loss of wallets and get an exact summary of all your payments afterwards. “In the end, people go to festivals to experience freedom. With Glownet, people can enter the terrain with nothing but their wristband; wallets can be left in the tent or locker. In case anyone loses the wristband, any lost credits can be easily refunded. And when guests are used to that experience, they will be very reluctant to go back to the old ways.”
Glownet is a UK based company delivering it´s first event in New-Zealand in 2012 and is now present in 23 countries worldwide, having its main hub in Europe. Global expansion is of course only possible due to some of the great partnerships Glownet has, such as Wirecard. The leading technology group supports companies based on its global payment gateway in accepting electronic payments from all sales channels.
With regard to acquiring via the Wirecard Bank, the group provides end-to-end infrastructure, including the requisite licenses for card and account products to companies worldwide. As an expert for cashless payment, Wirecard issues own payment instruments in the form of cards or mobile payment solutions.
Scott: Earlier this year we collaborated with Wirecard and have successfully delivered our first German event together. It´s great having a partner with such a mobile and global vision combined with innovative payment technology. The partnership was a natural fit to us.

In regards to the Netherlands – one of the leading countries in the movement towards cashless payment. “It’s no coincidence we’ve established our third office in Amsterdam. The Dutch festival industry is known as one of the most professional in the world. We can see a rise in demand for cashless payment everywhere, but again, Dutch festivals are ahead. Luckily, we’re getting more and more healthy competitors to meet this growing demand, but it requires quite some experience to master the art. After all, it’s not so much about the technology itself, but about the right way of applying it. How many top-up stations do you need and how many POS devices at each bar? Which data should you collect and how can you safeguard privacy? And let’s not forget all the different national laws your system must comply to, such as restricting the sales of alcohol for minors. In these matters, we’re still ahead, with more experience than all our competitors combined.”

The main threshold that still keeps festivals from switching to cashless payment, is that it requires complete confidence that the system will always work flawlessly. “Organizers must have enough faith in our system to put the full processing of all their transactions in our hands. So naturally, it must work flawlessly under every imaginable circumstance. Cashless payment can grant them up to 30 percent more turnover, but it could also ruin their business if payments won’t work because of system or network errors. Scott: “Therefore we’ve made the wristbands the most important element in our network, on which the whole system is built upwards. Even during network errors, the devices will always keep on working. And as soon as the network is available again, all credits ,payment and access data will upload to the cloud where we generate reports from. That’s how we live up to our most important philosophy: no matter what happens, technology must never interfere when someone wants to buy a beer.”