Festival crowds switching cash for digital

Millions of festival goers are now relaxing in the sun and watching their favourite bands, but dreading the huge queues for the cash points.

Festival season is firmly upon us. Right now, millions of people are scattering across the country to watch their favourite bands, relax in the sun and enjoy the opportunity to get away from the world of work for a fun and music-filled weekend. However, as much as any festival-goer loves visiting these events, they’ll also have a list of the same three things that they hate about them: the toilets, the mud, and the mile-long queue at the cash machine, writes Barbara Seljak.

Although we can’t solve the first two, improving the latter is a real possibility. Leaving valuables in a tent, or carrying large amounts of cash around at a music festival are not particularly attractive propositions for any festival-goer. Most food and drink sellers at festivals now accept card payments, but unfortunately they tend not to have great internet connections, and card transactions can take a long time to process. This results in a poor customer experience by creating enormous queues, plus loses for the business as thirsty revellers seek a drink elsewhere.

Contactless and mobile payments are a quick route to securing a sale and sending some good word of mouth off into a festival site. That opportunity has not gone unnoticed, particularly by financial services innovators. People have been getting much more comfortable with contactless payments over the last few years. Services like EE’s Cash on Tap – a mobile contactless payments service – have this year been integrated into the official Glastonbury app to let specially enabled Android handsets make contactless payments during the festival. Its predecessor, Orange’s Quick Tap service, helped introduce the idea of contactless payments, and now most new debit and credit cards are equipped for them.

However the market isn’t done evolving. Barclays has recently announced it is entering the wearable technology market with a new device specifically for contactless payments. The bPay band is a wristband, which will enable the wearer to make payments at any one of 300,000 UK terminals, and will also enable them to gain entry to events. 
bPay band

This new bit of wearable banking tech will undergo a limited roll-out at some sponsored events later this year ahead of launching publicly in 2015 as part of wider efforts to encourage consumers to ditch cash for digital. One of these events is the British Summer Time music festival, a prime testing ground for contactless payments and a great opportunity to see how well this new bit of wearable tech goes down.

It’s encouraging to see these companies embrace an evolving trend in mobile banking in such a creative way. Figures show that cash payments are going out of fashion fast, having declined by 10 per cent over the last 5 years to account for just 53 per cent of all transactions. To continue reaching the new generation of contactless festival-goers, financial services providers need to significantly scale up their mobile, digital and contactless banking solutions.

Will you be using Barclays bPay wristbands when they become available?