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Cashless stadiums are coming

Research shows sports fans are willing to embrace new technology if it means having access to faster service

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Digital payment is undoubtedly the most dynamic sector in financial services today. With an estimated 2.1-billion consumers already familiar with digital wallet transactions; the use of digital payments is rapidly changing how the world does business. 

And not only business per se. What about the effect on our precious leisure time?

Attending a stadium match is a magical experience for an avid sports fan. The roar of the crowd as the first whistle blows. The smell of a freshly mowed pitch. A sea of supporters shirts blurred into a single colour. The thrill of cheering from the sidelines as your team puts the first numbers on the scoreboard … unless you missed that phenomenal kick because you were standing in a long queue waiting to pay for your match snacks.

According to a recent Oracle report, entitled Stadium of the Future, sports fans are willing to embrace new technology if it means having access to faster service. As stadiums strive to provide a greater spectacle at live events, ‘futuristic technology that doesn’t disrupt the game’ and ‘shorter lines and wait times’ are amongst the top fan requirements to improve the game day experience.

Daneel Jordaan, Senior Director, Core Products Visa SSA and Acting Country Manager for Visa South Africa, says contactless payments and other innovative smartphone-based solutions are paving the way for faster payments and therefore shorter queues, as well as an overall enhanced stadium experience.

“The needs of stadium fans are changing,” says Jordaan. “As payment service providers, we have to ensure that we develop innovative ways to put the fan at the centre of the action. For example, in the near future, the Visa Venues solution will allow fans to – among other things – avoid the massive queues traditionally associated with stadiums by ordering food and beverages from their seat. It will also be possible to preview and pre-book any manner of available services, including parking facilities and memorabilia.”

Avoiding the frustration of a slow-moving queue is not the only benefit that arises from cashless stadiums:

1.       Less Time Away from the Game

Most sports fans have experienced the misery of watching the minutes tick away as you wait at the stadium entrance to buy a ticket, shuffle towards the front of the food line, or patiently queue to purchase your favourite player’s jersey.

“A cashless stadium means that we can make use of innovative technology to get the fan back to their seat as quickly as possible,” says Jordaan. “Contactless payment, for example, allows the consumer to simply tap their card on the checkout terminal to complete a transaction.”    

2.       A Safer Trip to the Ballpark

In South Africa, there is still more trust placed on physical cash over electronic payments. Despite this, according to SABRIC, bank client cash losses between January and June 2018 amounted to just over R21-million.

Digital payments play an ever more important role in offering consumers a safe and seamless way to pay because, from a consumer perspective, cash is inconvenient, dangerous to carry and expensive.

In the stadium context, the densely populated pedestrian areas pose a risk to those sports fans who are forced to carry cash.    

3.       Keeping up with the Tech Savvy Sports Fan

The appetite for more technology to streamline processes and reduce waiting time is steadily increasing. The Oracle report describes a growing number of sports fans who are willing to use mobile apps, tablets and wearable devices to order food and drinks.

Automated service and delivery options also proved to be popular amongst the surveyed fans with 41% of the respondents saying that they would be likely to use drone delivery or voice-activated virtual assistants, while 37% would use augmented reality to see food options.

4.       Making Moola for the Merchant

Cash has several negative implications for merchants and small businesses. For these businesses, there are steep costs involved in accessing, securing, transporting and storing this cash. 

Merchants, in stadiums and elsewhere, can now accept payment in a multitude of ways, including scanning a QR code, contactless cards, wearables, and digital wallets. By accepting these alternate payments, merchants can reduce the risk, cost and inconvenience of managing cash. Additionally, as a result of the speed and convenience of digital payments, merchants can grow sales volumes and improve their service delivery time. 

5.       Supporting the Shift to a Cashless Society

As the world shifts towards cashless transacting, the cost of maintaining the infrastructure to support cash transactions becomes incrementally less affordable. This has led to an acceleration in the transition towards digital payment methods.

Although Africa is still a predominantly cash-based marketplace, mobile phone penetration is quite high across the continent (and it continues to increase), and this means that access to cashless systems now has a much wider reach across the African continent.

Stadiums within this ecosystem can almost be viewed as mini economic hubs that will become reflective of the gradual shift towards cashless functionality.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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