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Cashless vs contactless: the difference and why cashless wins for events


Written by , 21st August 2019


As cashless payment methods continue to gather apace at events around the world, organisers need now more than ever to understand the options on the table and the advantages (or disadvantages) they can bring. Here we take a look at the benefits of a cashless RFID solution over contactless cards and mobile device payments.

But what is a cashless RFID or NFC solution? Event Genius’ award winning cashless POS solution – Event Genius Pay – utilises wristbands or cards embedded with an RFID (Radio Frequency Identity Device) chip, which can store safely encrypted information.

Customers can preload their wristband or card with credit before an event through the Ticket Arena website or a white-label box-office powered by Event Genius, like a digital wallet. Drinks, food and merch can be purchased from participating vendors via a simple tap of the card or wristband on a reading device. Festival organisers have even applied the technology to showers, lockers and fair rides.

Contactless cards or mobile wallets offer some of the advantages a cashless RFID solution can bring, such as speed and convenience, but there are also several downsides for organisers and customers alike. Let’s drill down into some of the advantages our cashless solution can bring event organisers over contactless card or mobile wallet payments:

1: Same day reporting: One of the greatest benefits in opting for Event Genius Pay is the rich stream of real-time data it provides to organisers. Unlike contactless card or device payments, where data is sent to the customer’s bank, our RFID solution allows valuable data to remain with the organiser to be viewed, interpreted and reacted to in real time.*

This gives organisers incredible control over their offerings. If a particular type of beer is outselling everything else, you can ensure there’s enough on tap to service the rest of the event. If one bar is busier than the rest, you’ll know to reallocate your staff accordingly. 

*An internet connection is required to access real-time reporting.

2: Its much faster: Contactless transactions take 7-8 seconds where as RFID transactions take 1-2 seconds. The process is almost instantaneous. There is no dual entry, risk of user errors or waiting for PDQs to become available, every server has a device which can take payment.

3: After-event Data: When the show is finally over, organisers can breathe a sigh of relief before turning to the task of improving the event next time round. With Event Genius Pay, rich customer insights can be used to better the event’s offering by relocating vendors, adding more points of sale, removing or changing underperforming kiosks and ensuring stock on site is well balanced.

All this means a more comfortable experience for the customer, and bigger revenues for the organiser by optimising their operation. None of this would be possible in an environment supporting contactless card use, as organisers would have no access to the data.

4. Generate pre-event revenue: Pre-purchased credits are a key feature of the Event Genius Pay solution. The idea is simple, fans are offered the opportunity to plan their budgets by pre-purchasing credit which can be used to buy food, drink, merchandise and more at any of the vendors or bars across the site.

Sold via a white-label box-office solution – and often purchased in the same transaction as their tickets – fans will spend an average of £54 on credit, typically generating 31% of overall cashless revenues prior to the event itself.

5. Truly offline: As event organisers will know, maximising sales at bars and other vendors can make or break the profitability of an event. Keeping costs down and queues short are therefore key deliverables on-site. One of the biggest challenges to using contactless credit cards or mobile wallets at a festival is the unpredictability of internet connectivity. When thousands of people get together in a field things can get a little slow, particularly in highly-populated areas like bars…

This means that contactless payments are liable to fail, unless vendors can process offline transactions, which is rare and often very limited. Event Genius Pay is a truly offline system – when the network goes down, the party continues.

6. Increased customer spend: Not only do cashless events provide a rich seam of data to increase operational efficiencies, cashless events see an average upturn of around 26% in spend compared to traditional cash and card events. 

7. Avoid International card charges: Heading abroad to guarantee some decent weather? By offering festival-goers the opportunity to top up their wristband at the ticket checkout, they are able to avoid costly international card fees or exorbitant exchange rates that come with withdrawing abroad at cash-based events. 

8. Replacement wristbands: Losing or breaking your contactless card can be a nightmarish experience at a festival. Going cashless with Event Genius Pay means punters can replace a lost or damaged wristband with ease and ensure the balance is transferred, without incurring any charges or delays. 

9. Support staff on site: Subject to the whims of internet connectivity, contactless card payments can fail if the network goes down, with little recourse to remedy the problem. Cashless events run by Event Genius Pay are guaranteed to run smoothly with a team of support staff on site 24/7 to troubleshoot any issues you may have.

10. Sponsorship Opportunities: All this data brings with it the opportunity to pitch to brands for sponsorship. Walking into a meeting with a robust report on the success of a particular product is a superb way to prove that your event brings in a particular demographic with specific tastes. Brands love data which can demonstrate support for their investments.

11. Payment limits: Everyone at some point or another has gone to pay with a contactless card, only to realise the transaction value is £30.58 and your payment provider has capped the limit at £30. With Event Genius Pay fans can get a round in without worrying about a £30 payment limit, meaning one transaction rather than two or three separate ones and less time queuing. A distinct benefit for fans and staff alike. 

12. Alternative currencies: Event Genius supports up to three currencies to ensure you can cater your offering to customers, artists and staff in the most appropriate manner. Incentivise pre-event voucher purchases for customers by offering free credit in an alternative currency of your choice. This is a win-win situation; customers are rewarded with a free drinks, their experience is greatly improved by streamlined queues when entering the event and less support staff are required to top up those customers who have not purchased vouchers in advance. A third currency can be created to allow staff or artists to redeem things like meals.

If you’d like to know more about Event Genius Pay, please get in touch via email or to keep up to date with our latest news please subscribe by entering your email address below:


Related Content – 8 reasons to use a cashless RFID solution at your next beer festival