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Cashing In on Contactless Sporting Events

There are many benefits to adopting a cashless payment system that enables spectators to use RFID cards to pay for food, beverages and other items. Here's what you need to know.
By Steve Beecroft
The specific benefits of a closed scheme that the club operates either directly or via a specialist organization, and those of a fully outsourced scheme, should be carefully considered.

What to Consider When Choosing a Cashless Solution
Here are some of the important things to consider when making a decision regarding a cashless solution:
• Impact on the customer
• Effect on catering or caterers
• Legal requirements and FSA rules
• Scheme rules around breakage—poor rules around refunds, lost, stolen or expired cards can create the perception that the club, having introduced the cashless solution, is taking advantage of the fact that the user is now a captive audience)
• Systems integration—the cashless system needs to be integrated with the POS and CRM systems as a minimum, as well as a card management system (CMS) for the more progressive multi-application smart card schemes
• Business model for predicting payback and forecasting revenues

Specific benefits of an in-house scheme versus one that is outsourced include:
• Transaction fees
• Financial management
• Ongoing scheme management
• Sponsorship
• Data requirements
• Customer communications and scheme promotion
• Supplier selection
• Future requirements for wider multi-application scheme

Some other points to consider:
• Which cashless technologies should be used—RFID (and, if so, which type), bar code, dual interface for backwards compatibility and so forth?
• Who will manage the data and cash flow?

Watch Out for that Banana Skin!
Technical. The danger is to get hung up on the technical details. This could be fatal for day-to-day scheme operations. Cashless solutions interfaced with a variety of other systems built with a wide range of technologies exist today in many different markets and industry sectors. While this may be new to sports stadia, it is not new for university campuses, large business premises, theme parks and many other venues. Basically, the technology works, so clubs should choose the suppliers and then let them do what they are being paid (and are well qualified) to do. That is not to say that suppliers should be given the requirements and left to get on with it, as a consistent level of effective supplier management should be applied throughout the life of the implementation.

If clubs focus too much on the technical side, this will cause them to lose sight of the back-office processes. If that happens, it will undoubtedly result in messy and expensive manual workarounds once the scheme is in operation.

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