Monday, 27 July 2009

Cashing In on Contactless Sporting Events

Written by Steve Beecroft and Published by RFID Journal July 27, 2009:
In recent times, we have seen a surge in e-payments, or what has now been termed cashless payments What is the cause of this gallop toward removing cash from some environments? Well, that is simple—cost savings, revenue generation and improved efficiencies.
The 2010 Football World Cup, in South Africa, and the 2014 basketball World Cup, in Spain, have plans for cashless facilities, and the 2009 German F1 Grand Prix, in Nurnberg, has already implemented a cashless solution. To demonstrate how increasingly important cashless technology has become to sports venues, Sandra Alzetta, Visa Europe's senior VP for consumer market development, said, "The aim is for a cashless Olympic Games in London in 2012."
Many types of organizations have implemented cashless solutions, including.........

Click Here to read this full article

Friday, 17 July 2009

10 Top Tips for Selecting Implementing and Operating a Cashless Sports Venue

10 Top Tips for Selecting Implementing and Operating a Cashless Sports Venue

1. Identify the Strategic Requirements
First identify the main objective of a cashless solution. Is the aim is primarily to reduce costs and not to develop a cashless relationship directly with the customer, or is it to deepen the direct relationship with the customer, control the funds and develop revenue generating opportunities? This forms basis for the type of cashless scheme required i.e. club controlled, fully outsourced or a hybrid where the club controls the scheme but a third party undertakes day to day operations.

2. Data Requirements
What are the transactional data requirement? This refers to the legal and financial reporting requirements and operational data requirements enabling efficient day to day running of the scheme. Moreover in terms of marketing with use of the transactional a top down approach is required. What promotions and are aspired to, and what specific transactional data will be needed to deliver them?

3. Integrate with CRM
There is a vast amount of data to be collected during a cashless transaction, and automatically feeding that through to a CRM system real time is essential if the full marketing benefits are to be realised. This should be one of the primary considerations or even a “must have” requirement. Simply building an interface from the cashless solution to the CRM system that updates in a overnight data transfer is not enough, the interface must be real time.

4. Card Supply
If the card will have MasterCard / Visa or similar facility then the card supply will be dictated by the issuing bank. If the cards are supplied by another service provider like loyalty or access control, it is important to ensure that third parties have permissions to add other applications such as cashless, loyalty, access control, ticketing, Healthy Schools and local transport. Some system suppliers insist on supplying cards and keep it locked down. This leave little opportunity for reducing card supply costs and also restricts that card to just one application and counter to aspirations of one card many uses. Look for an independent card supplier and solution providers that will work on that basis.
5. Card Technology
The technology chosen will be heavily influenced by the strategic requirements. There are several variables when it comes to selecting the card technology memory or microprocessor, contact or contactless Mifare, Desfire, JCOP Calypso or another platform. Ultimately thought if the right long term vision is held by the club they will need interoperability so that in future supporters in the visitors section can use their own clubs card just as home supporters do elsewhere in the stadia. The data from those transactions could be supplied to the visiting club and used for promotions on that teams next visit.

6. Breakage Rules
This could make or break a scheme. Breakage such as fees for lost / stolen/damaged cards or dormant accounts with residual balances provide significant revenue opportunities. However if the customers feel they are being exploited, it will be a massive disincentive to them. It will be a very fine balance between generating revenue, delivering a high quality customer experience and running an efficient and effective cashless scheme. There is a special formula to ensure the right balance is achieved, which will need to be harmonised with the clubs specific strategic requirements.

7. Implementation Approach
How a cashless scheme is implemented have a significant impact on the level of take-up and thus how successful it is perceived. The “Big Bang” approach of implementing 100 percent cashless in home areas is certainly one approach but requires exceptional communication with customers months in advance and will also require high levels of operational support for the first 5 or 6 home matches. A phased implementation is operationally the safer approach but does mean that the associated benefits are only partly realised until full roll-out is achieved.

8. Customer Experience
It is imperative for the success of the cashless scheme that the customer values it and feels valued by the club otherwise they will simply spend elsewhere before the game. To deliver a richer experience to their customer clubs should consider issuing a single card that allows the customer to enter the ground, make payments, gain access to all appropriate areas i.e. hotel room, box, hospitality areas etc. uploading funds must be easy, convenient and offer many channels such as web, direct debit, SMS etc is recommended.

9. Legal and Regulations
If a fully outsourced scheme is implemented the service provider is responsible for ensuring that their service adheres to all applicable laws and regulations but clubs should get confirmation of this. In the UK the are a number of regulations that need to be considered for clubs that plan to operate or control the cashless scheme themselves including the SeMIC, the Payment Services Regulations 2009 and the up coming e-Money Directive in April 2011.

10. Partners
There are a number of suppliers of cashless solutions all of which offer the basic function of prepaid debit facility. Not many of those suppliers have implemented in stadia environment. Even fewer have first hand knowledge of implementing a club controlled cashless scheme that fully integrates with all the other systems. So consider appointing a project manager or external consultant with relevant experience to liaise with each supplier to ensure all the strategic objectives are achieved.

By Steve Beecroft

For more information on implementing a cashless solution in your venue call Smart Stadia on 0208 123 0188 or email

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Cashless Stadia

Cashless Stadia
What to do, when you don’t know what to do!

The theme of this article is Football Clubs however the exact same benefits of cashless environment apply to other sporting venues including but not limited to racecourse, rugby club, motor racing circuit, basketball club, athletics club etc. In fact the German F1 Grand Prix in Nurnberg in 2009, the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa, the 2012 Olympics in London, 2014 basketball World Cup in Spain have plans for cashless facilities and in the case of the German F1Grand Prix have already implemented a cashless solution. To demonstrate this point Sandra Alzetta, Visa Europe Senior VP for consumer market development, said “the aim is for a cashless Olympic Games in London in 2012”.

In recent times we have seen a surge in e-payments or what is now been termed cashless payments, but what is the cause of this gallop towards removing cash from some environments. Well that is simple …..costs savings, revenue generation and efficiencies.

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.

The potential for generating revenue in most sectors is, as previously mentioned, modest however not so within the stadia environment where the increase in revenue for a well planned and implemented scheme can be significant. So when that is added to the benefits of holding the deposited funds and having immediate access to the transactional data the attraction for football clubs is very clear. But is this just hype or are the financial benefits of cashless stadia truly a reality? They can be if the scheme is a closed scheme where the cashless solution operates only within the stadium and club shop, and where club is the custodian of the cashless scheme and the funds deposited within it. This type of scheme could be managed by the club directly or the club could appoint a specialist organisation to manage the scheme on their behalf whilst retaining the overall control.

This approach vastly improves a business case based on income and also gives the club a direct relationship with the supporter and autonomy over the day to day operation of the cashless scheme including the all important scheme rules, in particular the breakage rules. How the cashless scheme is perceived by the supporters will be the critical success factor in terms of customer experience for every Cashless Stadia scheme. So in the closed scheme operated by the club, the fans are truly supporting the club on many fronts not just from the terraces and with the right scheme rules the club is directly responsible for the relationship with the supporters.

If, however, the club outsource the whole cashless process to a third party then almost all of the financial benefits disappear along with the direct relationship with the supporter, but this does fit with a business case built around streamlining operations to just core functions. Control over the scheme operation and rules have also been passed to the third party supplier.

Also depending on the contract terms data sharing may also be less than ideal. Transactional data is extremely important for providing the club with the ability to dynamically create personalised promotions and offers to the supporters via CRM. If data is not available on demand then selling those surplus XXXL away shirt in April will be more of a blunderbuss rather than sniper approach.

On the face of it giving away all this control to a third party is not the best approach, correct? Well that depends on what the club actually have a set of requirements. If the clubs view is that they are in the business of playing football and achieving success on the pitch, and the operational cost of a cashless solution within their stadia is a necessary evil, then outsourcing the complete scheme is exactly the right thing to do. However if the aim is to be able to efficiently manage and nurture the relationship with the supporter whilst generating additional income from intelligent but uncomplicated use of the transactional data, then outsourcing the whole cashless scheme would be madness.

The decision to go cashless either completely or in just one section of a stadia is not an easy one to make and must be done after properly analysing the clubs overall objectives and other considerations such as the contractual arrangements with other suppliers such as caterers etc. Then and only then can and informed decision be made for a best fit solution and how it should be implemented to ensure the highest rate of customer delight and take up is achieved.
Cashless Stadia, what are the benefits?

Regardless of whether the clubs chooses to retain control of their cashless scheme or outsource to a third party what cannot be disputed are the common 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

  • Sponsorship

  • 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

  • NFC.

  • 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

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.

Smart Stadia is based in Brighton, UK. For further information, telephone their offices on +44 (0) 208 123 0811 or contact them via email at

Saturday, 11 July 2009

10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Smart Technologies and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The following TOP TEN have been developed by Steve Beeceoft of Smart Stadia and have been published by Stadia here to see the full published article or click here to see the final published TOP TEN

1. Integrate all customer centric systems with CRM
To derive maximum financial benefit, fully integrate all customer centric systems with a CRM. This links islands of data making targeted marketing campaigns a reality rather than just a pipe dream. For example, once customers are in the stadium, they could be alerted of a discount or promotion through an SMS message or smart poster for NFC mobile phones.

2. Always retain ownership of the customer
Outsourcing complete services such as cashless or loyalty to a third party could result in the direct relationship with the customer being lost. Access to real-time data is often limited, restricting opportunities to dynamically created personalised promotions and offers via CRM. This reduces additional revenue and restricts the club’s ability to efficiently manage and nurture customer relationships.

3. Use a single smart token
The more applications that are enabled on a single token, smart card or even NFC enabled mobile phone, the more the customer values it. The more a token is used the more data that’s available, and the less it will cost both customers and the club. A single token properly implemented can have many uses in and outside the stadium and even with third party services. It is best to decide the potential applications very early so to plan efficiently.

4. Involve organisations beyond the gate
In addition to the services that the club offers working with local businesses, local transport provider, local authority and the wider community can also benefit customers. Promoting healthy eating in schools is always attractive to schools, clubs and pupils alike and so is a popular quick win.

5. Become a custodian of a cashless scheme
If a club is the custodian of the cashless scheme it benefits in terms of cash-flow from the funds deposited within it. It also ensures the club retains a direct relationship with the customer and autonomy over the day-to-day operation. A cashless system will provide the largest percentage of customer data of any of the systems used to support match days. In a scheme operated by the club, customers feel that they are truly supporting their team.

6. Improve the customer experience
A smart card scheme can help improve the customer experience. The Coventry City FC cashless scheme cut the average transaction time from over a minute to 20-30 seconds, drastically reducing queues. It also increased audience penetration at catering kiosks from 45% to 55%. Such effects alone provide justification for implementing a smart card solution. If that same card also took the customer to the stadium on the bus, through the turnstile and held loyalty points for redemption at the club shop that is truly improving the customer experience.

7. Invest in a future proof loyalty scheme
Loyalty schemes are a very good way of adding value to the card, benefit to the customer and giving data to the club. Build a scheme that is affiliate to multi national online retailers and national retailers so customers can collect points on a daily basis to be redeemed with the club.

8. Run targeted promotions using SMS WAP NFC
If targeted marketing encouraged every football fan to spend just £2 more per game attended, annual revenue for a Premiership football club with just a 20,000 gate at every league match would increase by £780,000. That’s how important obtaining and creatively using customer data via a fully integrated CRM is to a football club.

9. Focus on affordability
Ensure that any supplier configures the solution and the revenue model around stadia and visitor requirements. This will balance up-front investment with revenue generation and savings, allowing the optimum pay back period.

10. Insist on marketing support
To derive maximum benefit from CRM, ensure ongoing marketing support is available from the CRM providers as part of the package. Learning how to use the CRM is one thing but learning the how to deploy customised promotions specific to individual customers takes time, so eliminate the learning curve and generate more revenue immediately.

If you would like to find out how to Smart Stadia can help you and your organisation realise the the benefits from implementing smart card technologies which are fully integrated with your CRM then click or email

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Majority of UK Firms Ignore Customer Insight

Majority of UK Firms Ignoring Customer Insight -- KDB survey reveals fewer than half of financial directors and managers see companies in their field using data in marketing

Fewer than half UK financial directors and managers think that companies in their industry sector are using customer data to drive marketing initiatives, a new survey by database marketing and consumer insight firm KDB shows.

When asked if, overall, most firms in their sector were able to access and analyse customer data and then use this intelligence in their marketing, only 43% of the 1,000 finance directors and senior financial managers surveyed said yes. The survey covered regions throughout the UK, key industry sectors and firms of different sizes.
The sector in which respondents were most likely to see firms using customer insight in their marketing was

To read the full story click here!

For more information on implementing smart card technology in stadia go to

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Consulting Smart advising a Championship Football Club

Consulting Smart Ltd, parent company of Smart Stadia are now advising a Championship Football Club on the integration of customer centric services and their delivery through a single token.

When interviewed Steve Beecroft Consulting Smart's Smart Technologies Consultant, Founder and Managing Director said "This is a very positive step forward for the stadia environment and even more important for the fans and supporters or as we prefer to call them customers.

Customers want convenience and value for money, by enabling them to access many services through a single token this is exaclty what our client is providing them. This is the future of stadia as has been proven by the level of interest we are receiving from all types of sports clubs and arena managers across the UK and Europe."

When asked abouth the nature of the relationship Mr Beecroft responded "Consulting Smart are proud to be advising our client on how to organically deploy a multi-application smart card scheme within the stadia and intergrate existing services and solutions to that scheme. If at sometime in the future any of our clients need assitance with provision of a Cashless, CRM, Access Controls or even an Assett Tracking system our colleagues in Smart Stadia will be only too happy to help."

For further information on the services that Consulting Smart can offer your club and the financial & operational benefits that can be realised contact

or for information on Smart Stadia go to or email


Note to Editors Consulting Smart Ltd is a privately owned company established in 2006, working mainly with Local Authorities, Holiday Villages, Schools and Universities dwsigning and implementing multi-application multi-supplier smart card schemes.

Smart Stadia is a newly formed division of Consulting Smart Ltd focusing on the delivery of customer centric delivery solutions to the stadia and venue environments.

Smart Stadia in Football

Consulting Smart Ltd, have seen such a surge in interest of their cashless and CRM solutions in the Stadia environment they have launched and new division specifically to serve the needs of clients in this industry sector.

Smart Stadia is the new division and will be headed up initially Steve Beecroft the Managing Director of Consulting Smart Ltd, who has assigned a dedicated team of consultants to build strong relationships with existing clients and develop a wider and deeper share of the Stadia and Venue market.

During an interview for an industry publication Mr Beecroft confirmed "we are seeing enquiry levels far greater than we could have hoped for. I thought that this would be a tough market to crack, but the decision makers in Football Clubs clearly see the synergies in the very successful implementations that we have done in other sectors such as leisure, schools, universities and local authorities and their own need to transform the way they deliver services to their customers. This has always been our basis for entering this market and it is satisfying to see we have made the right decision"

When asked about strategy and the pace of change Mr Beecroft commented "We have been reacting to enquiries comming from the blind side rather than generating those enquiries ourselves, and whilst this is a nice problem to have we recognise that this is not a good strategy on which to build a sucessful and sustainable business.

After a period of market analysis we have now developed a Market Optimisation Plan (MOP) which will guide us through the next 24 months. However we recognise the need to retain our dynamic responsiveness to client requirements and needs and so the MOP is to be constantly monitored and our targets measured against it.

We are in a much better position to consider partnering with new clients and also forming strategic alliances with other suppliers where there is a mutual benefit for all involved.

We have also secured the necessary Trade Marks, URL's and patents required and now have a simple website for customers and clients to find out more about us and contact us directly, whilst a more comprehensive web presence dedicated to Smart Stadia is under construction."

For more information on Smart Stadia click here.