Lollapalooza aka Lolla Cashless – Wristbands

By: Eliza Borish

“Lolla Cashless”: just another reason I am bummed I can’t attend Lollapalooza this August in Chicago. In addition to the awesome line-up Lollapalooza has in store featuring Outkast, Calvin Harris, Eminem & Lorde, Lollapalooza will become the first music festival in the U.S to implement chip-enabled wristbands, known as “Lolla Cashless”. Now, attendees will have the ability to pay for food and drinks straight on the wristband rather than having to carry loads of cash around or making multiple trips back and forth to the ATM simply to purchase another $10 brew.

So how does this magical wristband work? Within the wristband is an RFID chip (Radio frequency identification) that allows attendees to store their credit card information. Venders, on the other hand, have all been given POS machines (Point of Sale) that will allow them to collect payments using RFID enhanced wristbands. To make the transaction even more seamless and safe, those with wristbands will have chosen a PIN number that must be entered during the transaction. Each PIN number is yours to decide and is thus, unique to the wristband. In case the wristband is lost or stolen, fraudulent purchases cannot be made as the person will not have access to your PIN number. Not only does this make transactions safer than someone whose cash happens to slip out of their pocket, but it also makes it speedier and more efficient for attendees and vendors alike. In fact, the machines that are provided to the sellers can collect payments even if they are online. This means that regardless of the notorious poor service that surrounds music festivals, attendees with their RFID wristbands can pay easily.

The wristbands do not cost extra nor are they a hassle; the ticket for Lollapalooza is the wristband itself. Wristbands will be sent ahead of time to ensure that every attendee can enter their information as well have access to the thing that will allow them in to the festival in the first place. The wristband is now a triple threat acting as their ticket, their souvenir and their handy dandy credit card.

While RFID-enabled passes have been used before at other festivals like Bonnaroo to ward off counterfeit passes, Lollapalooza will be the first festival to use the wristbands for transactions and payments. Hopefully, this venture pays off, literally, for those involved. Typically, cashless transactions are greater = than when cash itself is used. I mean, think about it, instead of worrying about the amount of cash you have left to purchase dessert or missing out on a performer because the line is too slow, cashless transactions, like this wristband, take away those anxieties.

Personally, I think these wristbands are a brilliant move. As a concert-goer and festival attendee myself, I always worry about bringing cash and credit cards. It’s easy for things to fall out of pockets or get stolen in such a large crowd. Do I bring cash and risk it falling out or do I bring my credit card and risk losing it? I always empty my wallet to bring exactly what I need and no more, in case I lose my bag, get pick-pocketed or have something fall out. According to Maura Gibson, president of Front Gate Tickets, cashless payments accounted for 30% of food and drink purchases during a test run at Counterpoint Festival in Atlanta this past April. Gibson states, “people who use is don’t really want to carry their wallet around,” something I know from experience and can second that notion.

The future of cashless wristbands is bright. While it is not used as attempt to track attendees’ movements, it is possible to see what people like through their purchases. Someone who buys a lot of beer like Coors Light or Samuel Adams could be offered a discount or promotion based on that information. Right now, knowing the amount of beer someone purchased is not the goal, but ultimately, this information could be used to benefit the attendee through special promotions based on their personal preferences. For example, for attendees who like to drink, notifications that a bar has a short time and low wait time could be sent to the wristband to maximize efficiency. More important than beer, the wristbands could potentially save lives by tapping into the emergency contact information in case of a medical disaster or even, locating a lost child through the wristbands location.

The cashless RFID-implanted wristbands have the potential to change the future of music festivals all over the globe. In order to do so, however; this requires baby steps and that is exactly what Lollapalooza is doing. Patrick Dentler, Lollapalooza marketing director states, “we can start worrying about all the other benefits later” because right now, a cashless wristband is just, well, a cashless wristband. Though, stay tuned, because for wristbands, the future is looking optimistic.

What do you think of this technology? Will you feel safe and see this as the direction of technology? As always if you like what you read, be social and share.

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