Cellum Insights

Festival season: m-payments take the stage

Summer is no doubt the season of festivals. Each year, more and more people – young and old alike – in Europe turn up at these events. In recent years, countries in Central Europe like Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia have taken the lead from traditional festival nations like the UK, France and Germany.

These mass events attract hundreds of thousands of visitors. For instance, Hungary’s Sziget Festival has had more than 370 thousand visitors last year, many of them coming from Western Europe, the U.S. and Asia.

In order to attract these large and diverse audiences, festivals are forced to compete with each other in terms of innovative services provided to festivalgoers. One of these is the move to become completely cashless – a trend that has been sweeping through the festival scene for the past couple of years.

festivalsigetFirst we have seen the advent of so-called festival cards, which usually implement a closed-loop payment system. This means that upon entry, every visitor is given a plastic card that they can transfer funds to at designated top-up points. Merchants at the festival are only allowed to accept these cards as a payment method. The checkout process usually involves visitors tapping their card against the merchant’s POS terminal. The benefit of such payment systems is twofold: on the one hand, they speed up the checkout process, which is really crucial at events of such magnitude. On the other hand, they improve the whole festival experience by visitors not having to worry about having their money lost or stolen. The downside is that festivalgoers still need to visit the top-up points should their cards run out of funds.

So logically, the next step for festivals is to introduce mobile payments. In the end of June, EFOTT, a mid-sized festival in Hungary made it possible to top up its festival cards via MasterCard Mobile. The mobile wallet app, built on Cellum’s secure transaction platform, normally allows users to top up prepaid phone and other card balances. For the 5-day event, however, the app was expanded with a new option to top up EFOTT cards as well. This made it possible for festivalgoers to top up their EFOTT cards without having to visit a top-up kiosk.

So in conclusion, we can say with confidence that festivals are headed in the right direction in terms of  innovative services. And thankfully, with technology providers like Cellum working tirelessly to make the lives of festivalgoers easier, event organizers can focus on satisfying more traditional needs, like making sure there are ample supplies of beer to go with quality performances.