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RFID Goes to the Races

Chelmsford City Racecourse aims to be the first in its market to adopt an NFC RFID-based cashless payment solution from Event Genius to enable post-race concert-goers to pay for food, beverages and merchandise with the tap of a wrist.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 12, 2019

RFID-enabled wristbands for contactless payments and access control are most commonly worn by members of the millennial and Gen Z generations at music festivals, water parks and amusement parks. The Chelmsford City Racecourse, located in Essex, England, aims to bring the convenience of cashless payments at the tap of a wristband not only to more millennials, but to a newer demographic as well: horse race fans.

While typical attendees tend to be less familiar with the technology, they come to the track expecting to spend money, and the race course intends to provide RFID technology to make that easier and more convenient. The system will be used at post-race concerts, however, rather than at the races themselves.

Event Genius's Lauren Lytle
The solution, provided by Event Genius, consists of the company's software and app to manage read data, as well as a wristband supplied by ID&C, with a built-in 13.56 MHz Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID chip compliant with the ISO 14443 standard. The wristband will be read by personnel carrying handheld readers, as well as at point-of-sale (POS) locations and kiosks.

Chelmsford City Racecourse is a thoroughbred horse-racing venue. It opened in 2008 and includes a grandstand that seats 10,000 spectators. It also offers concerts and other events beyond horse racing. This deployment will be the first in the horse-racing sector, according to Lauren Lytle, Event Genius's technical operations head, though it targets concert-goers. Event Genius, located in Leeds, England, has been providing ticketing and cashless-payment solutions in the United Kingdom using NFC wristbands. Its deployments are typically at music festivals or other events where the bracelets can enable automated entry into a venue, as well as be used for onsite payments.

Chelmsford approached Event Genius for an automated payment system in January 2019. The technology company built the system to be used at nine events throughout this year—the first of which, a beer festival, will be held on May 4-5. The annual activities consist of other special events as well, including Family Fun, Ladies' Day and Gentlemen's Day, as well as concerts. Chelmsford, Lytle explains, "wanted to put technology into the race course and be one of the first to do so." She says the company has a focus on technology-based innovation and sought to find a way to make its events more enjoyable, with fewer inconveniences like long waits in queues.

With the new solution, individuals first purchase their tickets online, at which time they can opt to use a wristband for onsite concessions. They then provide a credit card number and select an amount of money they would like to have available. The data is captured and saved in Event Genius's cloud-based software as pre-purchase credit, and the customers can then print a voucher with a bar code linked to their account. The system is not intended for use in placing bets.

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