There have been many types of organisations implement cashless something or other including Local Authorities, Government, Schools & Universities, Sports Arenas and more. All have realised significant benefits including modest revenue generation but moreover cost reductions and efficiency gains. In fact one local authority have seen 60% increase over all efficiencies by issuing and entitlement card rather than paper vouchers and cheques.
Cashless Stadia, what are the benefits?
- No cash handling – there will be no cash transactions within the stadium on match days, no cashing up, no more security van collections.
- Faster throughput – because a cashless transaction is up to can be 60% faster than cash and 3 times faster than a credit and debit transaction the queues at the catering kiosks move much more quickly.
- Improved hygiene – as the catering staff will not be handling cash and only handling food this not only removes any related hygiene issues but also enables fewer staff deliver a faster more efficient service.
- Free pricing – there is no reason to keep prices to round 50p or pound so this enables an item of £2.50 be increased to improve revenue or decreased which will improve customer experience and may lead to higher sales.
- Improved data – the transaction data via the POS terminals can tell who bought what, when and where in the ground which can be used in personalised promotions when processed through CRM.
The specific benefits of either a closed scheme that the club operates directly or via a specialist organisation and those of a fully outsourced scheme should be carefully considered.
What to consider when choosing a cashless solution!
Some of the important things to consider when making a decision on a cashless solution are:-
- Impact on the customer
- Catering / caterers
- Legal requirements and FSA rules
- Scheme rules around breakage (Poor scheme rules around refunds on lost, stolen or expired cards can even create the perception that the club, having introduced the cashless solution, is now taking advantage that the fact that the supporter is now a captive audience)
- Systems integration i.e. which systems. Point of Sale (POS), Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) as a minimum and also a Card Management System (CMS) for the more progressive multi-application smartcard schemes.
- Business model for predicting payback and forecasting revenues
- Specific benefit of in sourced or outsourced scheme
- Transaction fees
- Financial management
- On going scheme management
- Data Requirements
- Customer communications / Promotion of the scheme.
- Supplier selection
- Future requirements for wider multi-application scheme
- Technologies, contactless, barcode, dual interface for backwards compatibility maybe even
- Flow of Data, Cash
Watch out for that banana skin!
Technical – the danger is to get hung up on the technical details, and this could be fatal for the day to day scheme operations. Cashless solutions interfaced with a variety of other systems built with a wide range of technologies exits today in many different markets and industry sectors so whilst this may be new to sports stadia it is not for education, university campus, large business premises, theme parks etc. 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, whilst it wont be the first time, this will cause sight to be lost of the back office processes. This will undoubtedly result in messy and expensive manual workarounds once the scheme is in operation.
Data – another potential pit fall is data. What will be captured and why? What will / can be done with it once it is captured? What data will reside on the card, system, account? Moreover what data does the club currently have that will enable customer accounts to be set up and is it clean. No matter how hard any organisation may try a percentage of the existing data will be inaccurate. The important thing is to be prepared for that and have a good plan to avoid bad publicity especially around the deceased and those under the age of consent.
Legal and Regulatory – most important of all the potential banana skins is legislation and industry standards & regulations. In the UK the Financial Services Authority (FSA) should be consulted for advice on any cashless solution. They will almost certainly want to review the monitoring systems in place for schemes under the SeMIC rules and this can take up to 6 months to achieve certificated status. Their legal speak is often confusing so consider enlisting the help of and experienced consultant with a sound understanding of the FSA regulations and a good relationship with the FSA. This will help avoid delay and expense during the application process and prevent the risk of the scheme application failing or worse, allow a situation to arise that could cause the club to be liable for hefty financial penalties. Also be mindful of up coming regulations and legal changes such as the Payment Service Regulations of 2009 and the new e-Money Directive which comes in 2011.
In modern day Europe PrePaid debit cashless payment is the fastest growing payment method and the chart below demonstrates this. It is important to understands that the customers of football clubs are already using cashless prepaid as a payment method with other service providers, mobile phone top-ups, smart utility meters, parking, vending, public transport are just a few examples.
So… the of concept prepaid payment is not a new one for football supporters. The financial benefits to the club and the improvement in the customer experience can be very significant, not to mention the power that having the transaction data can give a club. The benefits and advantages of a carefully planned and implemented cashless solution in a football club are clear to see, and in most cases the implementation costs could be recouped inside 1 maybe 2 seasons. The longer it takes to make the decision the longer it will take to realise those benefits and advantages.
To see a full list of benefits from going cashless where the club retains control Click Here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
The author, Steve Beecroft is a smart technologies consultant with Smart Stadia which is a division of Consulting Smart Ltd. Mr. Beecroft founded the company in September 2006 to meet the needs of clients within local authorities and financial services sectors. Since their start, Consulting Smart Ltd. has expanded into the sports stadia area with Smart Stadia and are already working with several English Football League Clubs. Smart Stadia has extensive experience in solution and service integration relating to smart technologies within stadia. They offer their clients advice from concept and feasibility through to design planning, build, implementation, and benefits realisation.