Revolutionizing stadium payments and experience through financial technology

From global music tours to sporting spectacles, a game-changing shift is taking place with the fan experience as stadiums move towards innovative payment solutions.

February 29, 2024
 ·  5 minutes

The roar of the crowd, the thrill of the game, and the beat of music – stadiums have long been the epicenters of entertainment, uniting fans from all walks of life under one colossal roof. But beyond the cheers and chants, another key player is gaining momentum: payments technology. 

The era of cash scrambling, queueing, and ticket worries is fading. Innovative payment solutions provide an effortless and more enjoyable experience. Attendees can shop without fear of deciding between food and football because now it’s easier to have both, transforming every facet of event participation.

The spotlight is now firmly on payments technology delivering unmatched convenience, accessibility, and interaction. This is the future of stadium experiences, where payments technology blends with entertainment to reshape the landscape of live events.

Enter the era of swift transactions

While lost in the ambiance of events like Taylor Swift's "Eras Tour," most fans might miss the subtle presence of payments technology. But when the urge for a quick snack or a drink strikes, it joins the experience. 

Every second counts in a buzzing stadium, especially when waiting in a queue to grab a bite or coveted team merchandise. That's where contactless payments shine. 

Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology has made its mark in the payments scene, most prominently by allowing purchasers to make quick and contactless payments using any NFC-enabled mobile or device. A wireless connection is established by holding the device near an NFC-enabled payment terminal and exchanging encrypted payment information. 

This means that at a stadium event, fans can authorize payments through mobile phones and wearables, with fingerprint scans, facial recognition, or passcodes, eliminating the need for physical cash or card insertion that takes up more time and risks attendees missing a part of an event, losing cards, or worse, getting robbed. 

Faster transactions, increased revenues

Speed is paramount, especially on event days. This rings especially true for one of Europe’s biggest soccer clubs, FC Bayern Munich, which boasts a staggering 300,000 members.  

To enhance the pace and efficiency of transactions at the Allianz Arena, FC Bayern partnered with catering company DO & CO to modernize their cash register systems. Moreover, Adyen streamlines individual transactions, processing them one and a half to two seconds faster than FC Bayern’s previous systems. 

"Those precious two seconds translate into an improved customer experience, allowing our fans to return to their seats faster," says Peter Romics, Director Merchandising & Licensing, Authorized Officer, FC Bayern Munich.

It also significantly impacts revenue. Let’s take a look at half-time (15 minutes) at a soccer game as an example. 

In 900 seconds:

  • With cash transactions (60 transactions) averaging $20 per transaction, the revenue would be $1,200.

  • In contrast, contactless payments (450 transactions) with an average of $20 per transaction would generate a revenue of $9,000.

This demonstrates how the efficiency of contactless payments, taking as little as 2 seconds per transaction, can greatly enhance revenue compared to cash transactions or chip-and-pin payments.

While this comparison doesn't account for the additional time required for customers to make their selections and place their orders, it highlights the importance of transaction speed in payment processing in a stadium business.

Also, facilitating a seamless point-of-sale (POS) experience encourages customers to spend more time browsing and increases the likelihood of upselling.

Global events, local wallets

Let's shift the scene to one of the biggest events of 2023, the Women's International Football Tournament. The event is a great example of how payments technology transcends language barriers. With multi-currency support and language options, attendees worldwide could make purchases and transactions without the complexities of currency conversion. 

Introducing Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) as a payment option offers attendee convenience, transparency and cost savings. Attendees can either accept or decline DCC, allowing them to pay in the local currency at the point of sale without incurring additional bank fees or international transaction costs. 

What sets DCC apart is its transparency – exchange rates are locked in at the moment of purchase, ensuring that fans have complete clarity regarding the cost of currency conversion. 

With DCC-enabled POS terminals, currency conversion hurdles are removed, enabling fans to fully immerse themselves in the events they love without the hassles of payment-related concerns.

Unlock real-time offers and personalized incentives

Event organizers are increasingly harnessing the power of payments data to gain valuable insights into consumer behavior and identify trends, supporting them in making well-informed decisions. 

Payments technology transforms anonymous visitors into known fans. POS systems enable stadiums to gain valuable insights into purchase patterns and behaviors, enabling the creation of personalized experiences that drive fan loyalty. 

Take, for example, fans participating in a stadium event who are promptly notified of a discounted food combo during a halftime intermission. This timely and personalized incentive can add a layer of convenience and serve as a testament to the transformative potential of payments technology.

The Emirates Stadium, home to Arsenal Football Club in North London, utilizes POS systems to gain valuable analytics and data on merchandise sales and stadium operations, according to BusinessCloud

The club analyzes this data to optimize their retail offerings, stock popular items, and improve the efficiency of their merchandise operations.

Adam Rutzler, Senior Campaign and Insight Manager at Arsenal, says, “we work with a magic triangle, the power of three – transactional data, a demographic segmentation, persona-led approach, and behavioral data,” he explains.

Autonomous stores

Autonomous retail is now entering stadiums, meaning fans can enjoy cashierless checkout order items via mobile apps. 

Shoppers gain access to the store by tapping their payment card on a terminal, initiating a pre-authorization process, and unlocking the store doors. 

Returning customers benefit from a recognition feature that tailors their experience. Once inside, customers can effortlessly select their desired products from the shelves. Its advanced camera system, armed with artificial intelligence algorithms, sets this system apart. 

This technology identifies the chosen items, accurately matches them with the store's inventory, and discreetly calculates the charges. Payments are then automatically processed using the card scanned at the entrance, rendering the checkout process invisible.

Receipts are conveniently sent to customers' provided phone numbers, ensuring a modern and efficient shopping experience.This streamlines operations, reduces wait times, enhances customer engagement, and streamlines operations. Safety is bolstered by reducing physical contact. 

The ‘just walk out’ experience is growing in popularity and other brands are beginning to catch up. Sports stadiums are adopting the technology for soft goods like t-shirts and foam figures. It’s still magic when it’s done well, as you can see from these happy football fans.

Integrate payments into a unified system

Stadiums recognize the need to enhance their omnichannel strategies to create more engaging and convenient experiences for fans. Though related, omnichannel commerce and Adyen's Unified Commerce play different roles in achieving this goal.

Adyen's Unified Commerce is a specific payment technology and platform designed to streamline payment processing across multiple sales channels. It is a centralized hub for handling transactions, allowing businesses to accept payments through diverse methods like credit cards, mobile wallets, and more, all through a single integration point. 

While both concepts aim to enhance the overall customer experience, Adyen's Unified Commerce specializes in optimizing the payment aspect of the omnichannel strategy, making it more efficient and user-friendly for both businesses and consumers.

For instance, Adyen’s financial technology allows event organizers to manage ticket sales within a unified system efficiently. This means they can sell tickets online and at the door, all seamlessly integrated. 

With ticket sales centralized in one place, organizers gain a 360-degree real-time view of their sales, optimizing their ability to sell 100% of event tickets. 

For fans, whether they discover events by chance or during their travels, this approach provides a unique opportunity to purchase tickets and gain access whenever they want. It's a win-win scenario, transforming the event experience for organizers and attendees.

Digital tickets and QR codes makes access a breeze

Payments technology has ushered in digital ticketing systems that are not only eco-friendly but also ultra-convenient when it comes to crowd control. Attendees can access their tickets on their smartphones, eliminating the need for physical tickets altogether. This innovation has been particularly transformative during massive events like Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour," where 2.2 million fans (at the time of writing) vied for a coveted spot.

With smart ticketing taking care of ticket validation and faster access into stadiums, staff can be redeployed to enhance fan experiences in other ways, such as assisting with crowd management, and providing guidance or support in critical areas that require human expertise, which improves overall operational efficiency. 

Many stadiums utilize QR codes for ticketing. Fans generate a QR code on their mobile devices through the stadium's payment app, which the payment terminal can scan to initiate the transaction. QR codes also offer a secure and efficient way to validate purchased tickets, providing a more convenient and streamlined entry process into a stadium.

Technology’s impact on security and fan experience

Payments technology can significantly reduce theft and fraud in stadiums through various measures. For instance, contactless payment methods like NFC-enabled cards and mobile wallets enhance security by requiring transaction authentication, making it challenging for thieves to use stolen payment methods. Mobile ticketing apps and biometric authentication methods further improve security by reducing the risk of ticket fraud and unauthorized access. 

Real-time monitoring and analytics help stadium operators detect suspicious activities, while cashless stadium models eliminate the temptation of stealing physical cash. Training staff and fans in safe payment practices, along with robust POS systems, add layers of security. 

According to the Sports Business Journal, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta adopted a cashless payment model, resulting in a hefty reduction in theft and breakage, providing a successful example of payments technology's impact on security and fan experience.

Many cashless stadiums are also integrating biometric authentication methods, such as fingerprint scans or facial recognition, to verify a fan's identity and authorize payments. Since biometric data is unique to each person and difficult to replicate, it can reduce the chances of unauthorized access or fraudulent activities. This helps to maintain a safe environment for attendees.

Transform purchases into purposeful donations

Stadium shoppers now have the chance to donate to charity when they check out, thanks to new technology used by event partners. Adyen Giving is one such technology being adopted in stadiums across Europe.

Chelsea Football Club is the latest among those embracing this idea.

Final thoughts

Stadiums that embrace cutting-edge payment solutions are poised to elevate the attendee experience to unprecedented heights. By adopting contactless payments, mobile ticketing, biometric authentication, and real-time monitoring, these venues enhance security and streamline the fan experience. 

The shift towards cashless transactions reduces theft and fraud and simplifies the payment process, allowing fans to focus on enjoying the event rather than worrying about their belongings. 

This effortless integration of technology enhances convenience and sets a new standard for modern sports and entertainment venues, ensuring that fans can relish the thrill of the game or the spectacle of a concert with unprecedented ease and peace of mind. The future of stadium experiences is undoubtedly bright and powered by innovative payments technology.

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