Big Wine Festival sees cashless future

If you’ve ever been to a festival before you know that you get given a wristband that lets you get into certain areas, but what if that wristband was also your wallet?

The Big Wine Festival, to be held in Reading in June 2012, is using the latest technology to do just that. Ticket holders will be allowed access certain areas of the wine festival but also have tasting notes emailed to read later as well as use their bracelets as a method to pay for wine that they like too.

The idea is that when you go to buy your ticket, instead of it being a simple piece of paper, you actually buy an intelligent wristband that contains a RFID chip that allows it to be read by staff at the festival.

That intelligence comes in a number of different guises, but mainly that the band can then be loaded with cash that all the retailers at the show will use to take. Rory Musker, managing director of Wrist Marketing, the company behind the wrist band wallet, explained the benefits to Pocket-lint at a preview for the festival.

“If you run a stall at a festival, you can lose up to 30 per cent of your takings through theft and bank charges in something the industry calls shrinkage. With our system there is no cash and therefore no fear of theft.”

It's the same technology used alongside Global Auto ID which managed the ticketing for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa that allowed fans to make sure they had the right seats. Here, however, the technology is used to speed up transactions, improve security, save retailers money, and make sure people are legally allowed to drink.

Users can either pre-load the wristband when they buy the £50 ticket or use terminals around the event to top up more cash on to their band as they go. At no point is hard money passed over to the retailer or stallholder. The organisers manage the cash flow and assign it at the end based on the data from the wristband readers.

That means the Big Wine Festival’s organisers can also see transaction data for the entire event letting them know exactly what was and wasn’t successful. Any money left on the card and not claimed at the end of proceedings will automatically go to Missing People, a local charity.

But it is not just about taking money according to Olivia Ocana, the chairman of the event, who hopes the new wine festival can replicate the enjoyment of the Marlborough Wine Festival in New Zealand. All wristbands will also allow people to see what they tasted and a chance to vote for their favourite wine of the festival.

Regardless of whether you've loaded up your wristband with cash or not, all visitors to the show will be able to touch in on special pods which will pull up all details of everything they have tried, at which point they will be given the opportunity to rate them. They will then be able to access this information after the event. What's more, during the event, live poll boards will continually update to display a live list of the most popular products across the whole festival giving festivalgoers a sense of what’s hot and what’s not. As you can imagine, the implications for stallholders could be fantastic news or spell the end to a bad festival with poor sales. The proof really is in the pudding.

With the Big Wine Festival the first to trial the technology, Musker is keen to sign up other events around the UK - something that, so far, has taken time to achieve.

“We’ve yet to sign up anyone else,” Musker admitted to Pocket-lint. “These things take time.”

Naturally, the ultimate goal is to sign up one of the big summer music festivals using the tickets to not only act as your wallet, but allow you into certain areas of the festival be it VIP or exclusive certain acts.

Time will tell whether Musker and Wrist Marketing’s plans to change the way we spend money at festivals will become the future or relegated to being something that was deemed “quaint”, but Ocana hopes that the future in payments is successful, at least for now and for her show.

The Big Wine Festival is on from the 7 – 10 June 2012 in Kings Meadow, Reading.



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