Event Genius Pay fuels rise in RFID payments at UK festivals


While RFID has been delivering invaluable changes across the event landscape in Europe and the United States over the last 10 years, the UK market has been slow to follow.

There’s a fear about upsetting proven cash/credit card processes, and ticketholders, at events in this country. But as cashless and RFID based systems become more prevalent in everyday life, contactless payments in pubs, shops and public transport for example, ticket buyers, particularly those under-40, are coming to expect it.

The cashless solutions which have stormed the festival model Stateside require a fully networked site, with zero downtime, and would struggle to cope with the intermittent Wi-Fi at most UK festivals. Instead, a raft of independent events on this side of the Atlantic, including El Dorado and Detonate Festival, made the switch with Event Genius’ closed-loop RFID, which can work online or offline and isn’t dependent on a network.

The Leeds-based company’s award winning Event Genius Pay service has processed nearly 4m payment transactions via 1m wristbands worldwide at events such as The Great European Carnival (Hong Kong) and Annie Mac’s Lost & Found Festival (Malta) and is in use at 20 major UK events this summer season.


As the public gets familiar with closed loop RFID on event sites, promoters will see the inherent benefits far outweigh the struggle to implement something new. Brute stats say customer spend goes up by as much as 25 per cent with cashless and, as well as slashing overheads and queue time, Event Genius Pay spawns rich data, analytics and reporting for promoters, organisers and vendors.

“Our closed-loop system ensures 100 per cent uptime for spending, as all the currency is stored on the wristband itself,” Lauren Lytle, appointed Head of Operations at Event Genius in March, explains.

“RFID has revolutionised the relationship between the promoter and patron in that we’re now able to gather valuable data points on each individual attendee rather than just the ticket purchaser. Cashless technology has so many potential applications in the fan experience, so at Event Genius we’re looking to facilitate as many connections between patron and promoter as possible.”

As British festivals get more sophisticated networks in place, and they are starting to, Event Genius Pay evolves with their needs. The system can introduce online features like mobile top-up and ‘hybrid’, which allows the customer to add to their balance via Apple Pay and Google Pay if they run out of currency mid-POS (point of sale) transaction.

“The UK festival market is a small world,” Lytle says. “Everyone talks about everything and the failures experienced by early adopters of RFID, where the dynamic wasn’t quite right, scared people. It made them reticent. “We’re moving in the right direction in this country though. When I go to events now, everyone seems more comfortable with RFID.”

Ultimately, people resistant to technology will get left behind, but when you look at the way the generations took to tapping debit cards to access buses and the tube, that won’t be many.

RFID for events is focused on the payment puzzle, for now, but there’s huge growth potential for brand activations, sponsorship and much more besides. It’s time to cash in.

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.