RFID is bringing dramatic change to the live events industry. Concerts and athletic event operators flocked to RFID-enabled cashless payment solutions in 2014, a trend that is expected to accelerate this year.
Intellitix, a provider of RFID access control and payment solutions, recorded a twentyfold increase in cashless transactions in 2014. The company says that more than four million cashless transactions were made using its technology last year, representing more than $50 million (U.S.) worth of purchases. By comparison, only $2 million of cashless transactions were recorded in 2013.
“Last year provided us with a glimpse of what the future holds,” says Intellitix CEO Serge Grimaux. “I am intrigued by the market potential. It is immense, and I think we are just scratching the surface.
“We always knew that 2014 would be the year there would be a change in attitude, but these results have exceeded even our highest expectations. We are now in talks with some of the biggest events on the planet and we will continue increasing our reach in the coming year.”
Grimaux says that his company distributed about 1.5 million RFID bracelets equipped for cashless transactions last year. He expects that number to triple in 2015.
Last year, Intellitix deployed its cashless payment solution at more than 40 events in 10 countries, including England, Scotland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Last week Garorock, a festival held in France every June, announced it will join the cashless payment bandwagon.
Grimaux says that more than half a million cashless transactions were record in three days at TomorrowWorld, and that all 160,000 visitors to the event received RFID wristbands. The event, held in September, was Intellitix’s largest deployment to date.
“These figures represent a true shift in attitude towards cashless payments, both from event organizers and the public,” says Grimaux. “The 2014 season has been a turning point for the technology, with some of the world’s biggest event organizers and sporting events embracing the benefits it can bring to them and their customers – from shorter queuing time if any to improved security and accountability, as well as the opportunity to access a wealth of data.”
Intellitix delivered the first all-encompassing RFID solution to a global sporting event at the 2014 Gleaneagles Ryder Cup in Scotland, as RFID wristbands controlled access control, cashless payment and social media activations customized to individual sponsor brands.
To date, the Intellitix solution has only been used for general admission events. Starting this year, an amended Intellitix solution will make it possible to use RFID bracelets at events with reserved seating, such as football games in the U.S. and soccer matches in Europe. The company’s new product, InstaBand, allows event operators to print a thermal transfer RFID wristband at the moment of purchase.
“Until recently our technologies could only be deployed in the general admission environment,” says Grimaux. “Now thanks to the InstaBand, which can be linked to any ticketing software operating in a venue, we can start deploying what we have been working on for more than two years — Smart Venues.”
Intellitix expects to deploy at its first reserved seating event by the end of June. The event will likely be in the U.S or Europe.
“This will be the year venue owners go cashless and learn to interact and understand who their core audience members are, the same way general admission festivals have been starting to do,” says Grimaux.
It’s entirely possible that major sporting events could be entirely ticketless in several years, relying on RFID wristbands not only to control access control, but also to allow fans to make purchases and to engage with the team through contests. For years, major league baseball parks have handed out paper forms for fans to vote for players in the All Star game each summer. With an RFID-enabled wristband, fans can vote quickly at a kiosk and receive live updates on the voting.