Cashless Stadiums: Stats, Pros & Cons

fans holding cash in stadium

In recent years, there has been a significant growth in the use of cashless transactions globally. In many countries, the trend towards a cashless society is becoming more evident. At the same time, debit and credit card usage is on the rise.

The number of cashless transactions in some countries is steadily increasing while others are still lagging behind. For instance, some European countries like Denmark and Sweden have seen a drastic increase in cashless transactions with debit and credit card usage on the rise while others like Greece and Italy still lag behind with only small minority of their citizens using these methods of transaction (Source).

One of the more prominent trends is the elimination of cash in sports stadiums.

Cashless Sports Stadiums

In fact it won’t be long before fans who want to purchase a hotdog at a Major League arena won’t be able to pay with paper currency. Almost all Major League Baseball stadiums went cash-free for the recent 2021 season. To make matters worse, this trend does not seem to be slowing down. Several National Football League (NFL) clubs have announced their cashless plans, similar to what some hockey and basketball stadiums have done.

This shift has followed consumer transaction preferences, which seem to be leaning away from cash and preferring other modes of payments. With the application of the right technology in place, more business establishments have come to realize the benefits- from increased operational efficiency to enhanced customer loyalty. It’s apparently a lot easier for vendors who don’t need to count money on the fly anymore or worry about counterfeit $20 or fake $100 bills. But there is some controversy with some states passing laws about accepting cash.

A personalized experience

cashless transaction

One of the most influential benefits of going cashless is that it can turn anonymous visitors into known fanatics. By the use of a system like Square, you are provided with insight into habits and purchases that can help stadiums in the creation of a personalized experience to ensure fan loyalty is driven and make the foundation of a flexible and scalable data-first platform.

This omnichannel experience can begin with the first client interaction in the parking lot as arenas are collecting their parking fees. The next stop on this buyer’s journey can be found at a self-serve kiosk where one orders pre-game beverages and snacks. During halftime, you might be prompted to pay a visit to the fan shop to purchase your team merchandise. The third quarter might include making a meal order to be delivered seat-side so that you as a fan do not have any chance to miss any moment of the match waiting in your order line. Additionally, fans can also purchase a beverage from a seat vendor. During the key moments of the game, arenas can send their special offer to the fans’ smartphones, such as asking the fans to purchase a jersey when an important score has been made.

Every touchpoint offers stadiums better comprehension of the fans and how they can engage with the venue. Additionally, this data can also generate more insights that could be used to drive strategies. For instance, the collected info can advance the customer experience by ensuring targeted offers are sent to the fans through the use of a mobile app or via real-time marketing from social media platforms. As fans are making their way out of the stadium, they can be offered loyalty rewards that are redeemable on their future visits.

The cashless POS systems also gather the information that is used after the match event. For instance, stadiums can aim all fans on platforms such as Facebook who purchased ice cream at the previous game with a “FREE ICE CREAM” deduction at any of the upcoming events in the week or month.

The COVID effect

The timing for going cashless in stadiums is right too. According to CPA Practice Advisor, the global digital payments amounted to $4.7 trillion before the end of 2019. After stores and customers encouraged contactless payment methods such as digital wallets and credit cards in attempts to reduce the spread of the novel COVID 19, transactions done through digital platforms are anticipated to reach almost $6.6 trillion before the end of 2021. Square saw that the cashless business went over and above its double in Canada, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom in 1 year between February 2020 and February 2021.

More consumers keep on embracing cashless transactions. A study done by the Strawhecker Group concluded that 26% of all consumers were expected to interact with cashless frequently than how they could before the coming of the pandemic. Many of the consumers are in fear of touching cash due to the high risk of the spread of germs. Instead of the use of cash, 27% are expected to use debit and credit cards often, while 34% use digital wallets. One thing you should note is that the transition away from the use of cash in purchases and other transactions could be with us to stay. 70% of all consumers claim that their forced shift to cashless payment will be with them permanently.

COVID 19 had an impact on stadiums too. During the Coronavirus pandemic, live events were either held without fans or canceled, hence having a big hit on stadium revenue. As the management commenced the planning of the reopening process, the use of other methods of payment apart from cash was sensible.

The shift to other digital payments brought COVID-related advantages, such as the reduction of fear of scattering this virus to cohorts through the handling of both coins and cash. Additionally, there was streamlining of operations since cashiers were not required to provide change or count money. By shifting to digital payments, processing fees were eliminated charged by banks for the deposit of large amounts of money, hence preventing loss from human error or theft.

In Atlanta, the Mercedes Benz arena shifted to cashless modes in 2019 to ensure that waiting time was reduced while transactions sped up. The stadium served as a model for others who were in the process of making a shift during or after COVID 19 since it was the first big arena to embrace cashless transactions. In an exclusive interview with Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Director of Business Strategy Gordon Barfield, claimed that the conversion to a cashless operation was able to save the stadium $350,000 in all expenses by getting rid of the costs associated with movement, counting, and securing huge amounts of cash in the arena.

The technology that enables cashless arenas

Venues are still bound to accept debit and credit cards and other digital methods of payments, such as smartwatches and smartphones, and POS systems, which include Square Terminal, which allows near field communication payments.

Bigger venues that include Mercedes- Benz are in the process of installation of reverse ATMs, where the patrons can turn cash into the respective prepaid debit cards with no deduction of transaction fee. These debit cards could be used outside the stadium too. Look for a decline in the purchase of money counting machines because of this trend!

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