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.