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Jika Jika!, Other U.K. Festivals See Boost in Spending With NFC

This summer's music festival in Northern Ireland experienced a 23 percent increase in sales per person, thanks to an NFC-enabled cashless payment system from Event Genius.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 12, 2018

Northern Ireland's Jika Jika! music festival reports that it has boosted spending per attendee by 23 percent this year, compared to at its 2017 event, by employing an NFC RFID-based cashless payment system from Event Genius. The 2018 event took place on Aug. 25-26 in Derry, Northern Ireland. All attendees wore NFC-enabled wristbands for access control, while many also purchased pre-payment vouchers associated with the bracelets so they could make cashless payments onsite. Those who'd created a prepaid account could then simply tap their wristband against a reader with each purchase of a beverage, food or merchandise.

Event Genius, based in Leeds, England, has provided ticketing software in the British Isles throughout the past decade. In 2016, the company launched a cashless solution that could be used at festivals, separate from the ticketing system, says Lauren Lytle, Event Genius's technical operations head. Lytle, who joined the firm that year, had previous experience in cashless payment systems in the United States, which the company has since leveraged at multiple U.K. festivals. "We felt this was a good time to get a foothold on cashless payments in the U.K.," she says.

A bracelet used at the Jika Jika! festival
The Jika Jika! event featured electronic music acts such as Denis Sulta, Octave One and Green Velvet. Guests can pay for food, beverages or other items with cash or credit cards—which, in the past, has led to longer delays at queues, as well as potentially limiting the amount of spending. This year, however, with the NFC-based system in place, the festival sought to make purchasing easier and more convenient for ticket holders.

Guests bought tickets from a separate online ticketing solutions provider, then were invited to create a prepaid voucher for an NFC-enabled ID&C wristband using the 13.56 MHz ISO 14443 protocol. With Event Genius's software, users could enter a credit card number and specify a cash amount, which would then be deducted from their account, after which they were sent a prepaid paper voucher.

Guests presented their vouchers upon arriving at the venue, then were provided with an NFC-enabled wristband. Staff members used a Famoco Android-based device, running an Event Genius app, to scan the printed bar code on the voucher, and to then write the prepayment amount to the bracelet's built-in tag via an NFC transmission.

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