Eurovision Song Contest goes contactless

Eurovision-2016-Belarus_photo-credit-Thomas-Hanses

Opportunities to write about the Eurovision Song Contest are far and few between in the world of payments, but that ends today with news Gemalto and Visa are teaming up to hand out contactless payment wristbands at the show this year.

The 60th edition of the contest is taking place in Stockholm this year, home to probably the most famous and definitely the most successful contestants of all time, Abba. The city is often held up as an example of what a cashless society can look like as consumers and businesses rely more and more on digital and card-based transactions. In fact, Sweden is moving so quickly toward a cashless society that its Central Bank recently stepped in to warn that the process may lock less tech savvy demographics out of financial services.

At the event, all 65,000 visitors will be able to buy a wristband from the Eurovision Village in the week leading up to the contest for a cash-free experience of the show. Wristband owners will be able to access real-time account information on a website that French security giant Gemalto is powering and check their spending history and prepaid balances.

The wristbands aren’t just for the show and Visa says customers can use them to make payments at and point of sale terminal that accepts Visa until the end of October. That means revellers won’t lose any money they’ve uploaded onto the wristband if they don’t spend it all on schnapps and beer at the show of course.

Events and festivals, similar to transport networks like Transport For London are great testing grounds for contactless technology and Gemalto has a similar project in place at Saracens Rugby Club in London. Enabling faster transactions, less hassle carrying and handling cash, plus reducing the opportunities for theft and robbery on site, the appeal of not carrying a wallet around is clear.

eurovision contactless

Jamie-Lee representing Germany for Eurovision 2016 – Credit Thomas Hanses (EBU)

“Gemalto’s support for Visa Europe at Eurovision Song Contest 2016 demonstrates how the live event ecosystem is ideally suited to an extended NFC experience,” says Philippe Cambriel, president for Europe, Mediterranean and CIS at Gemalto. “Our Smart Event service makes it easy to look beyond contactless payments and embrace additional functions such as access, visitor entitlements and data management.”   

Eurovision, with an estimated 200m TV audience is just the latest global event Visa is hooking its contactless payments platform into. The firm recently announced that is creating and operating the entire payment system infrastructure and network throughout all venues at the Rio 2016 Olympics. That includes stadiums, press centres, point-of-sale (POS), the Olympic Village and Olympic Superstores. It is planning to implement 4,000 POS terminals across key Olympic venues, as well as 11 ATMs in partnership with Bradesco.

Photo credit main image: Eurovision 2016 Belarus entry – photo credit Thomas Hanses

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