New Mobile Payment System for Events Debuts at SXSW

Now planners can offer guests the option of both R.F.I.D. and credit-card payments on one device.

By Mitra Sorrells March 14, 2017, 7:15 AM EDT

Connect&GO ships customized smartphones to clients that allow them to process payments from credit cards, debit cards, and R.F.I.D. tags all on the same device.

Photo: Courtesy of Connect&GO

Badges or wristbands embedded with R.F.I.D. chips have become a popular method for transactions at events. Guests go online to link a credit card to their unique device and then simply swipe their wrist or badge at the event to pay for things such as concessions, merchandise, or a fund-raiser donation. A cashless system such as this is not only efficient, but data shows it also results in much higher spend-per-person than a traditional system that only accepts cash or credit cards.

“We do about 100 events a year now that use R.F.I.D. as the method of payment, and we’ve found when people are using an R.F.I.D. item as opposed to their credit card, debit card, or cash, they are spending an average of 30 to 40 percent more,” says Anthony Palermo, C.E.O. of Connect&Go, a Montreal-based company that provides R.F.I.D. solutions for festivals, conferences, and experiential marketing events. “People are just tapping to pay. It’s so much easier, and it keeps you within the experience of the event. It’s the cruise ship model.”

But Palermo says the experience has also shown that some people are not willing to link their credit card to an R.F.I.D. tag. So Monday at South by Southwest, Connect&GO and Mobeewave debuted a new mobile payment solution that accepts debit and credit cards and R.F.I.D. tags all on one device.

“This creates options to diminish friction. It’s easy to deploy, not just technically and physically, but easy to deploy in terms of adoption. It doesn’t exclude anyone,” Palermo says. The system launched at a party co-hosted by Connect&GO and Beachclub, a music venue in Montreal, at the Quebec Sugar Shack, the home of Planet Quebec’s showcase of Quebec companies at the festival.

The system is managed from customized smartphones that Connect&GO ships to client along with a video tutorial. Clients use a self-service Web portal to create the menu of items they will be selling at the event, for example beverages, food, T-shirts, and books. The payment system works via Wi-Fi or a cellular network and does not require electricity, so the people managing the phones can move throughout the event without being tethered to a stand or outlet. To make a purchase, guests simply tap their credit or debit card or R.F.I.D. tag to the smartphone.

Palermo says unlike many existing mobile solutions that are simply payment terminals, this is a point-of-sale system that provides features such as inventory tracking and the ability to combine multiple items in one transaction.

“We designed this for the event industry, because most venues don’t have a payment system in place,“ he says. “The majority of events have to come in with their own payment system.”

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