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Are Cashless Stadiums the Future of U.K. Sports Infrastructure?

The way money and payments operate changed immensely with the rapid evolution of technology. Credit card processing and innovative business solutions allow financial transactions to take place anywhere and anytime. This development has also stimulated the appearance of cashless stadiums.  

The concept is a novelty in the world of sports. As of 2020, the aim was to reduce the waiting time and enhance fans’ experience. A few months later, priorities changed, and cashless stadiums became a more frequent sight. Social distancing and a safer experience for spectators and staff took the throne. Below you’ll find a short overview of the massive potential of cashless stadiums. 

A Brief History of the Development of Payments 

People have been trading goods and services for ages. Yet, swaps in the past couldn’t involve financial payments. At that time, money, as we know it today, did not exist, and people used other payment methods to exchange products.  

In the golden days, barter was the only way to trade essentials. Then, ancient civilizations started to use shells and beads as coins. Later, they switched to using precious metals, such as gold and silver, to make valuable and easily portable coins. 

We owe the development of paper money to the Chinese. Yet, defining and maintaining the value of paper money was challenging. Also, due to problems with inflation and production, paper money went in and out of use in ancient times. 

In 1816, it was England that established gold as its standard currency. As a result, the values of other currencies depended on their worth in gold. Europe and the U.S. followed this method, which became conventional by the 1900s.  

Credit and debit cards developed in the middle of the 20th century, enabling consumers to spend money more conveniently. Even more important, the rise of the Internet in the 1990s paved the way for online and mobile payments. 

Finally, the introduction of virtual currencies altered the way we perceive financial transactions. Digital currencies and e-wallets eliminated the need for physical money. As such, they might bring us to a full circle when cash payments could become obsolete. Again, though the notion of cashless stadiums is relatively new, the future of virtual payments is already here. 

How Do Traditional and Cashless Payments Compare? 

Many customers prefer cashless stadiums for convenience. In short, they can make purchases from any place, transactions are fast, and there’s no need to carry cash. Others prefer the cash-based method for various reasons. Let’s take a closer look at the ups and downs of both payments. 

Benefits of Cashless Payments 

Nobody can deny that contactless methods are here to stay. Digital transactions accounted for 72% of all transfers made in 2020. So, why would someone prefer a virtual currency? 

  • The majority of consumers avoid carrying lots of cash due to safety. As a result, crime rates at cashless stadiums decrease, and you’re not prone to thefts. Plus, contactless payments protect you from contracting various diseases. 
  • Digital transactions allow you to track your finances. This way, you can analyse the history of transactions and manage your expenses without much hassle.  
  • International payments became more accessible. The speed of transactions increases and gives way for the development of business. When travelling, people can leave their mobile devices to do the financial stuff. 
  • Contactless technology enables the conversion of different currencies in no time. Hence, you can exchange money at cashless stadiums without the need to look for a physical office. 

Hence, venues must provide cashless options to stay competitive and make shopping convenient. 

Downsides of Cashless Payments 

Though advantages prevail, the convenience factor erodes if we switch to cashless payments only. Let’s see why cash-based methods shouldn’t perish altogether.  

  • Contactless transactions can be more expensive and entail fees for processing, maintenance, and overdrafts. 
  • Cashless stadiums need to invest in hardware or software for POS or credit card processing gateways. Also, venues need to hire IT experts to run the systems smoothly. If a POS or ATM goes down, events can get cancelled with significant losses for the organizer. 
  • Virtual payments require accounts with banks, mobile banking applications, and peer-to-peer platforms. So, cashless stadiums need personal information and purchasing history. Many consider this an invasion of privacy. Plus, there’s always the risk of cybercriminals infiltrating the e-payment system and stealing your data and money. 
  • Cashless stadiums may also impede access and inclusion. Poor and unbanked people can’t afford to pay and receive payments. On top of that, many people lack technological knowledge. 

The Rise of Cashless Payments Accelerated by Covid 

Until recently, banning cash at public events would deter sales. But following the Covid-19 outbreak, contactless payments have become the norm at sports venues. Hence, the introduction of cashless stadiums came as no surprise. 

The global pandemic fuelled the adoption of digital transfers across all industries. The shift to online shopping and avoiding ATM usage over fears of contracting COVID have increased the demand and omnipresence of virtual payments. 

Rapid Adoption of Cashless Stadiums in the U.K. 

The move to cashless stadiums started a few years ago. In 2017, U.K. sports venues slowly transitioned to digital payments, and this trend has continued. 

In 2019, Tottenham Hotspur opened its £1billion stadium and took the opportunity to switch to a 100% contactless payment. In the same year, in December, the London Stadium went cashless. Allowed methods include contactless cards, digital wallets, wearables, and QR codes. 

The Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge also supported the cause of cashless stadiums. The novelty got first introduced for match days and then for everything else. These venues now only accept card payments to cut queuing times and boost the overall experience of spectators. 

Go Cashless with Elly 

The future of payments and cashless stadiums lies in platforms like Elly. This tool synergizes multiple payment methods and other POS services in a single solution. Elly’s mission is to empower merchants by creating a global POS platform with all payment methods and value-added service providers.  

Users can expect everything on one device, including cards, crypto, and digital transfers. Additional services, such as advertising and loyalty programs, are also available.