Visa Turns Music Festival Into Cashless Operation

September 7, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

A music festival can be a wild, almost scary occasion. There’s a lot going on, plenty to see and do and—almost constantly—everything you could want to hear. Managing money in the midst of such an event seems almost mundane to the point of contradiction, but that’s what recently happened at the Boardmasters festival in Cornwall recently.

Taking place in Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay, Boardmasters is a fairly major event in the UK. It was made even more so by the addition of contactless payment mechanisms added into the festivities, making what what just a celebration of surfing and music into a technological marvel as well.

Boardmasters had previously been known as a cash-dominant affair—even last year, reports suggest, only five percent of transactions were made via card—but thanks to an assist from Visa, visitors were able to pay for food, drinks, even shuttle bus service with card transactions.

Visa’s assist came from a wide-scale rollout of Wi-Fi service, which Visa could put in place along with some help from partner Square. The end result was 350 mobile point-of-sale systems that festival businesses could use, and use they did.

Reports from the event suggested that those who insisted on cash—and there were some holdouts—quickly lost business to those who would take contactless systems. Given that a large portion of Boardmasters’ audience is millennial in nature—a simple 51 percent majority is between 18 and 30, while 36 percent is 16 and 17—it’s clear that having that cashless connection will be vital to Boardmasters going forward.

Just the fact that businesses that didn’t take cashless lost trade, though an unknown amount, during the event is point enough for most anyone that cashless isn’t just a nice-to-have any more. It’s now a downright necessity. Given that around half the transactions under 30 pounds sterling in the UK are contactless in nature, it’s especially worth making the move therein.

While the impact of millennials’ fondness for mobile payments may not carry over fully into Gen Z, coming up immediately behind the millennials, Still, with millennials expected to be dominant for some time now, attempting to wait that generation out isn’t much of a plan. Markets are starting to shift toward the new dominant market class, and are delivering value accordingly, as we see with Boardmasters’ move to cashless.