Isle of Wight Revellers Rate MasterCard® PayPass™ Wristbands as the Latest Festival Essential

Isle of Wight Festival

Image by Mark Bodenham via Flickr

In a project combining MasterCard’s technological innovation with the retail expertise of Central Catering Services and the pioneering spirit of promoter John Giddings, festival goers in the VIP area at the 2011 Isle of Wight Festival, which took place over the weekend, put the UK’s first ever MasterCard® PayPass™ prepaid contactless wristbands to the test and rated them as a must-have for future live music events.

Research conducted amongst those using the PayPass prepaid wristbands to ‘Tap & Go™’ to pay found they were their preferred payment method at the festival. Respondents said they were quicker (96%) and easier to use (98%) than credit or debit cards, while a resounding 100% said they’d want to use the PayPass prepaid wristbands again to pay at other festivals, concerts and sporting events.

Distributed to people in the VIP enclosure on a first-come, first-served basis, the PayPass prepaid wristbands were pre-loaded with £30, which could be used to purchase food and drinks with a simple tap of the wrist at Central Catering’s bar and Jamie Oliver’s ‘Fabulous Feast’ restaurant, much to the envy of those still waiting for their change!

John Giddings, Isle of Wight festival promoter, said:  “Festivals are all about a great shared experience – the music, bands, food and drink all add to the atmosphere. New innovations such as this really add to the experience. I’m proud to have pioneered the wristbands at the Isle of Wight and hope to see them developed further at future events.”

Hany Fam, President of MasterCard UK & Ireland, said: “This is a really great example of how MasterCard is giving back to music fans, by using our technological innovation to improve their experience of everyday payments at festivals. The project was really the first part of testing consumer acceptance of a truly ‘cashless’ environment, which has been much talked about in the festival world. With the willingness of John to allow us access to his audience and the invaluable assistance of Central Catering, we have made some significant steps towards achieving this goal. We look forward to extending the PayPass prepaid wristbands to provide access as well as payments at more festivals and events across the UK.”

Mark Hatch, Director of Central Catering, said: “We’ve played around with cashless systems in the past, as we see many future benefits in them, but had not yet found one that had a truly financial or totally practical viability. Working with MasterCard has been a revelation, as its world-leading innovation and technology have finally enabled us to put the real building blocks in place to deliver something truly workable and revolutionary.”

Nigel Harris from Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts was equally impressed, adding: “The speed was incredible and left some customers just standing waiting for something else to happen, as they couldn’t believe the payment had taken literally seconds. We loved it!”

To pay, users simply had to tap their PayPass prepaid wristband on a specially equipped terminal, removing the need to dip a card, enter a PIN or provide a signature. Amongst the many benefits of this technology are improved payment speeds, safer payments with the reduced need for cash or cards, reduction in retailers’ cash handling costs and more detailed accounting of transactions.

The popularity and reach of PayPass continues to grow rapidly.  As of the first quarter of 2011, more than 92 million PayPass cards and devices have been issued for use at approximately 311,000 merchant locations worldwide.

In addition to the deployment of the PayPass prepaid wristbands, MasterCard also put terminals in some public areas for faster card payments and integrated them with the main gate access points, to demonstrate another aspect of its technological innovation: access control.

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