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Futureproofing festival wristbands: Dutchband Q&A

The festival wristband industry has seen significant innovation in recent years, as suppliers have incorporated payment solutions and anti-counterfeit measures, as well as experimenting with ever more sustainable and durable materials.

For over 17 years, Dutchband, the largest supplier of event wristbands and consumption tokens in the Netherlands, has provided fraud-resistant, user-friendly and efficient wristband and payment solutions to over 1,000 events worldwide.

IQ checks in with Dutchband managing director Michiel Fransen to discover how the company is keeping gatecrashers out and making products more eco-friendly, as well as finding out what lengths the team will go to in order to ensure speedy wristband delivery.

 


IQ: Can you give me a brief description of who Dutchband are and what work you do?

Michiel Fransen: Dutchband has been active in the wristband and cashless payment business for close to two decades. Initially started as one of the first companies to use digital printing technology for wristband production, we have also introduced other innovations such as our unique payment tokens, vending machines, point-of-sale (POS) terminals and, of course, our high security SealStation solution (pictured), a semi automatic machine that seals wristbands on fans safely, quickly and comfortably.

We are proud to work with many of the bigger festivals in Europe. Festivals like Solidays and Fete de l’Humanité in France, the UK’s Download and WeAreFSTVL, German festival Rock am Ring, Poland’s Open’er, Lowlands in the Netherlands, Paleo in Switzerland and the Defqon1 and Mysteryland franchises all have used our solutions for either access-control wristbands or cashless payment.

We have seen an influx of new kinds of festival wristbands entering the market in recent years. What sets Dutchband apart from other companies working in the sector?

We differentiate ourselves mainly by always looking for ways to improve on the products that are currently offered in the market. We do this not only in terms of the physical properties of the products themselves, but also by exceeding customer expectations when it comes to service and reliability as a supplier.

There are quite a few cases where festivals have contacted us just before, or even during an event, to arrange delivery of additional wristbands or payment tokens. We understand the importance of helping out our customers in these cases and will do everything to arrange timely delivery, even if it means that one of our team has to jump on a plane to do so.

Dutchband Q&A

In terms of new developments, what are the most exciting innovations that Dutchband has implemented in recent years?

What I’m really excited about is our new range of wristbands, made entirely from organic and recycled materials. This perfectly matches our ambition to help our customers further reduce their environmental footprint. This means we can now offer sustainable alternatives for our entire product range, from SealStation wristbands made out of recycled soda bottles, to payment tokens produced from our own production waste.

Being more sustainable is the top of the priority list for many working in the live event industry, what do you believe are the other main challenges facing the wristband sector today and how is Dutchband tackling them?

The biggest challenge is to keep outsmarting the counterfeiters (and cheeky visitors) trying to get into the event for free. I believe that with our fully tamperproof, closureless SealStation wristband, we can really help festivals tackle this problem.

This foolproof design applies not only to our higher-end solutions but – and this is quite unique for this industry – even to our most basic Tyvek wristbands, made out of a plastic fibre that resembles paper, as a standard come with overt and covert anti-counterfeiting measures.

Looking to the future, what does Dutchband hope to achieve?

We keep on innovating to bring sustainable, reliable and easy-to-implement payment and accreditation products to the leading festivals of the world. Just like in the Netherlands, we want to be the people to call globally if you need a good solution and you need it now.

 


Want to promote your business or service with a sponsored news story? Contact Archie Carmichael by emailing archie@iq-mag.net for more information.

Event Genius Pay to make African debut

UK event technology company Event Genius has announced a new cashless payment deal with the inaugural Ghanian edition of Afro Nation festival this December.

Event Genius has partnered with festivals and events across Europe and Asia including Portugal’s BPM Festival, Jika Jika! in Northern Ireland, Parklife in Manchester, UK and Annie Mac’s Lost and Found festival in Malta

Under the new deal, the company will take its cashless payment technology to Africa for the first time.

The Ghanian edition of Afro Nation festival is scheduled from the 27 to 30 December, with an expected attendance of 15,000. Alkaline, Burna Boy and J Hus are among acts to appear on the line-up.

Festivalgoers will be able to pre-purchase credit to pay for food, drink and merchandise at the event using RFID-enabled wristbands.

“We’re delighted to partner with a ticketing and technology company capable of providing a true end-to-end event platform for the inception of Afro Nation”

Event Genius is powering the ticketing for Afro Nation Ghana through the Ticket Arena website and a white label box office. Using the Entry Genius app, organisers will be able to manage entry points, track attendance and reduce ticket fraud.

“We’re delighted to partner with a ticketing and technology company capable of providing a true end-to-end event platform for the inception of Afro Nation,” says Obi Asika, chief executive of Afro Nation.

“Through our partnership with Ticket Arena and Event Genius, fans are assured the best possible experience from buying tickets, to entering the festival safely and ultimately enjoying their time dancing on the beach, without the need to worry about money or queues for drinks.”

The first-ever Afro Nation festival took place in Portimão, Portugal this year from 1 to 4 August, with performances from Wizkid, Davido, Ms Dynamite and Stefflon Don.

 


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Smart money: Put your money where your wrist is

Since bursting onto the festival circuit around five years ago, the popularity of cashless payment technology has grown exponentially, with cashless solutions – usually delivered via an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip attached to a wristband or festival pass – now a familiar sight at some of the world’s most popular events.

After a bumpy start (including high-profile failures at events such as Download and Hurricane Festival), cashless tech has shed its growing pains and is now common across much of mainland Europe. It’s also fast making inroads into largely cashless-resistant markets such as the UK and US, where event promoters, like their continental cousins, are drawn to its sales uplift potential – 15-30%, according to Payzone – and contactless-native audiences to its security and ease of use.

A French revolution
According to Steve Jenner, UK business development director for Belgium-based PlayPass, Britain is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to cashless payment take-up – although it is catching up fast. “Outside the UK, it is now uncommon for an event not to use RFID for payments – to the extent that there is very little noise generated by it, with no debate needed beforehand and no audience fuss after,” he explains. “The established systems now work offline, avoiding the well-publicised issues that affected some of the earlier adopters, like Download in the UK and Hurricane in Germany, both in 2015.

“The UK – while later to the party than most other markets – is now catching up rapidly, following three highly successful summers of cashless festival implementations. PlayPass has doubled its overall worldwide growth in 2018, but we have tripled the number of UK events we work with, and are on course to do at least the same in 2019.”

“On the whole, the UK market has not yet switched to cashless,” agrees Pierre-Henri Deballon, co-founder and CEO of Dijon-based Weezevent, which provides cashless solutions for some of the biggest events in France. Referencing Download 2015 – whose cashless-only set-up was criticised by many festivalgoers after it failed on the first day, leading to the reinstatement of cash payments the following year – Deballon compares barriers to adoption in the UK and other largely non-cashless markets to flying: “It’s similar to aviation,” he says. “It’s the safest way to travel but if one aircraft fails then people become scared of flying.”

“The UK – while later to the party than most other markets – is now catching up rapidly, following three highly successful summers of cashless festival implementations”

Weezevent’s system – which, like PlayPass’s, works offline, avoiding the risk posed by an unstable Internet connection – is used by the majority of France’s cashless festivals, says Deballon, which account for nearly three quarters of the French market. “Of the 100 biggest festivals, 70% of them are cashless,” he says, “and we’re doing 95% of them.”

Weezevent was founded in 2008 by Deballon, Sébastien Tonglet and Yann Pagès, and went cashless with its first major client, France’s biggest festival, les Vieilles Charrues, in 2015. “All the other festivals looked at what they were doing, saw how successful it was and decided to switch,” Deballon explains. “Maybe if Download [2015] had succeeded, it would have been the same in the UK market.”

Reshad Hossenally, founder and managing director of UK- based Event Genius, says the market for cashless technology “is always rising. As a relatively new technology, when compared with the likes of online ticketing and traditional access control, there is a big pool of events and festivals that have the potential to make the switch to cashless and benefit as a result.

“Between 2017 and 2018, we have doubled the number of events we have serviced,” he continues, “with lots more events for the winter booked in on top of this.

“As the technology becomes more widely adopted, it is also opening up a broader range of industries. We’ve used our technology at music festivals; food and drink festivals; winter and Christmas carnival events; large-scale clubbing and warehouse events and more, and are targeting even more sectors for 2019.”

“Like all technologies, cashless technology develops at a mile a minute, and the technology used back in 2015 is well and truly a thing of the past”

Hossenally says RFID payment technology has come on in leaps and bounds since the dark days of 2015 – something the company is keen to make clear to event organisers. “What we always try to communicate is that, like all technologies, cashless technology develops at a mile a minute,” he explains, “and the technology used back in 2015 is well and truly a thing of the past. Today the tech is far more advanced, reliable and robust.

“Major failures are often related to networking issues. At Event Genius, we have developed our solution, Event Genius Pay, to be able to run completely offline, mitigating any possibility of downtime.”

Triple threat
It’s easy to see why downtime is such a major concern for cashless events: for festivals, especially – where the trading ‘year’ is compressed into just two or three days – any outage could be catastrophic. “If the system fails, it would have many impacts,” says Deballon. “We service over 200 festivals, and often have maybe 10-20 on any one weekend, and we’ve never had the organiser not being able to sell – if a festival can’t process payments, that’s like a normal business being closed for weeks…”

When it works, however – and it’s worth noting there have been no major festival RFID failures for nearly four years – cashless payment technology benefits event organisers and punters alike. The chief advantages of going cashless, says Jason Thomas, global CEO of Tappit, whose clients include Bestival and Creamfields Hong Kong, as well as several major sporting venues, “can all be summed up in three main points: Firstly, it improves the fan experience. Secondly, it increases revenues through speeding up transactions and significantly reducing fraud. And thirdly, it gives event organisers valuable data and insights.”

 


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PlayPass acquires French cashless provider Yuflow

RFID technology company PlayPass has acquired the French cashless payment provider, Yuflow, as part of its global expansion programme.

The acquisition of Yuflow allows PlayPass to expand into key European markets. Yuflow has used NFC wristbands to process payments from more than two million visitors at over 200 events, including FrancoFolies de la Rochelle and Jazz à Vienne (7,000-daily cap.).

Yuflow will now operate as an independent subsidiary using PlayPass technology, and will retain its original name and identity. Yuflow’s co-founders, Martin Rigot-Muller and Jean-Alexandre Janoray, will remain in charge of the company.

Rigot-Muller comments: “PlayPass has the best understanding of event organisers’ needs and the most complete solution in the market. This development gives Yuflow an unparalleled advantage in our ambitions to lead the cashless events sector in France and Switzerland, as well as expanding our horizons as part of a fast-growing global player.”

“PlayPass has the best understanding of event organisers’ needs and the most complete solution in the market”

PlayPass, named Best Festival Technology Provider at the 2019 Festival Supplier Awards last week, supplies cashless payment technology to festivals including Lollapalooza Berlin and Santiago (80,000-cap.), Rock Werchter (88,000-cap.) and British Summer Time Hyde Park (65,000-cap.).

The company has expanded greatly since launching in 2012, working at over 600 events worldwide and processing more than €50 million in payments. PlayPass secured €1.9m in funding from Dutch venture-capital firm Newion Investments in August.

Chief executive David de Wever states that Yuflow has cultivated “strong commercial and operational footprints in France and Switzerland”, key markets in PlayPass’s global expansion programme.

Yuflow’s approach and position in the market “fits with our [PlayPass’s] strategy of combining organic growth with strategic acquisitions to become the market leader in the key live event markets over the next few years,” explains de Wever.

 


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Intellitix acquires controlling stake in LOC

Access control/ticketing specialist Intellitix has acquired a controlling stake in Netherlands-based LOC Pay Systems.

LOC supplied 200 festivals and venues across Europe in 2016 with its token-based payment system and will continue to operate from its head office in Lochem, Netherlands. The firm’s 13 full time employees will remain under the management of CEO Roland Wassink.

Intellitix provides technology-driven solutions for music festivals and live events, and aims to bring Cashless RFID to 500 events in 2017, including LOC clients. LOC, which until 2015 was a division of LOC 7000, is its first acquisition.

“The acquisition of LOC Pay Systems aligns with our core belief that clients’ confidence to use new technology is centred around trust and proven track records.”

Serge Grimaux, Intellitix CEO (pictured, left), said: “There is a great synergy between our companies in our approach to delivering the best possible, practicable Access Control and Payment Systems to events. The acquisition of LOC Pay Systems aligns with our core belief that clients’ confidence to use new technology is centred around trust and proven track records.

“There is a fantastic team at LOC Pay Systems with a strong reputation based on multiple successes for their clients across the years. They will introduce our RFID technologies to an event or venue when appropriate. Where it can bring benefits to a client we know LOC Pay Systems advice will pave the path for the use of our technologies.”

Intellitix leader Roland Wassink (pictured, right) added: “Bringing Intellitix and LOC Pay Systems together makes us very unique for our mutual clients. We enjoy very close understanding of our clients’ requirements and their events, so being able to offer them a range of payment options from tokens to cashless RFID technology will be a great advantage to them.

“We have been researching RFID technology for several years, so we are very excited about being able to offer Intellitix’s proven technology not only for cashless but also for brand amplification and access control.”

“We have been researching RFID technology for several years, so we are very excited about being able to offer Intellitix’s proven technology not only for cashless but also for brand amplification and access control, with our staff project managing the implementation opportunities into Europe and beyond. This merger is a memorable moment in the history of payment solutions in our market and globally.”

 


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First cashless UK venue opens this month

The UK is to get its first cashless music venue.

It is thought Stage in Basingstoke will be the first venue in the country where cash won’t be accepted behind the bar when it opens later this month.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) payment technology is already in widespread use in the festival world, and a number of festivals are totally cashless, including Sziget, Standon Calling, Snowbombing and SFX events Mysteryland USA and the not-happening-this-year TomorrowWorld.

Download was briefly cashless last year but returned to a range of payment options for 2016 after its RFID system crashed on the 2015 festival’s first day.

“It keeps the venue safe: there can’t be a robbery of cash if there’s no cash in the venue”

Adam Hornblow, CEO of Stage Live Ltd, which owns the 1,400-capacity venue, tells Heart: “[Cashless] keeps the customers safe, it keeps the bar staff and your employees safe – and if they get given a tip they just keep it.

“If they’ve got any cash we know it’s theirs because it’s not ours, and it keeps the venue safe: there can’t be a robbery of cash if there’s no cash in the venue.”

Stage opens on 29 April with a show by The Boomtown Rats, Max Milner and Belle Roscoe.