Rob Morgan, head of sales and partnerships, mobile payments at Barclays, talks of wearable tech and how best organisers and venues can take advantage…


The mass consumer adoption of contactless payments has had a reciprocal effect on the public’s willingness to try out wearable and mobile payments. These emerging technologies are not only fantastic for consumer ease and convenience, but they also present huge opportunities for festival and event managers.

By embedding payments functionality into whatever device provides access to the venue, whether that’s a card, wristband or other device, venue managers can unlock greater convenience for both themselves and their visitors, as well as incremental revenue, without compromising customer security or anonymity.

A new kind of access pass

As contactless payments are, on average, seven seconds faster per transaction than Chip and PIN, visitors using their contactless-enabled device will benefit from faster payments and shorter queues. The venue can take this one step further by introducing dedicated queuing lanes to visitors paying with their wearable device, making the purchasing process even faster – so engaged customers spend less time queueing, and more time enjoying the event.

The ease and convenience of a payment-enabled access pass also works in the venue’s favour. For example, switching to contactless payments can save significant amounts of money in cash management fees, avoiding the need to count, protect and transport large volumes of cash.

Moreover, faster transactions mean that concessions can serve more customers in the same amount of time, increasing productivity.

Understanding your customer

But the commercial benefits of wearable payments for stadiums and venues don’t end as soon as customers leave the event. As event companies look to engage more meaningfully with their customers and generate greater loyalty, understanding those consumers has become increasingly important. Transaction data from the wearable devices can be used to help venue managers understand the typical location, age and gender of their visitors, as well as behavioural insights such as the other kinds of retailers they buy from.

The data is anonymised and aggregated, so can’t be used to identify individuals or compromise their privacy in any way, but provides a valuable resource that companies might otherwise struggle to obtain.

Armed with a better understanding of their customers, venues can optimise marketing spend to target appropriate demographics and locations, and use the new insights to inform decisions about partnerships and collaborations with other brands. One of the most valuable insights is the ability to match transaction and location data. For example, a venue would be able to see where their most loyal customers spend money just before or after their events, allowing them to partner with specific bars and restaurants, or to buy advertising space where they know their customers are shopping.

A data-driven future

Competing in a data-driven world can be challenging without access to detailed information about customer behaviour – but the good news is that this is within reach for companies that take advantage of the insights generated by wearable payments to optimise marketing and drive growth.