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Going cashless: 4 reasons why stadiums should make the switch

In 2018, there were 39.3 billion payments made in the UK, 28% of which were made using cash. Still the second most frequently used payment method, you may be forgiven for wondering why any business would consider ditching it completely.

However, when you look at the rapid decline in the use of cash, you may start to think differently. Back in 2008, cash represented 60% of all payments and looking ahead, cash is forecast to be used in only 9% of payments by 2028 (UK Payment Matters Survey 2019).

Driven by the increased use of debit card payments (98% of the population now own a debit card) and the growing popularity of contactless and mobile payment applications, many businesses, including those in the live events and hospitality industries have started to see the benefits of moving towards the cashless model.

Pioneering the way for UK arenas was Amadeus, caterers at Birmingham’s Genting Arena, who switched all their food and beverage concessions at the venue to cashless in 2017.

As well as reducing queues by speeding up every transaction by around 20 seconds, Amadeus reported that, on average, its staff saved 30 minutes ‘cashing up’ at the end of each event – the equivalent of £8,500 per annum for the arena. On top of that, their banking costs were reduced and, because Amadeus’ team leaders were able to spend more time with staff and customers, they were able to improve the visitor experience. 

While music and festival organisers across the UK have been keen to follow suit, sports stadiums have been slightly more hesitant – perhaps due to notions of the ‘traditional’ fan who comes to the game with a wad of cash in their pockets.

The dramatic changes that have occurred in people’s payment habits clearly disputes this and the opening of Tottenham Hotspur’s new 62,000 capacity ground as the first completely cashless UK stadium may just have been the tipping point.

Since then, others like Twickenham and The Etihad have all taken steps to promote and increase the use of cashless payments at their venues. If you’re still not sure, here’s four cost benefits that might just swing your decision to become a cashless stadium too.

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1. Save on labour costs

Accepting cash payments at your stadium business means committing valuable staff time to several tasks that will simply disappear if you choose to go cashless – setting up cash floats at the beginning of the day, periodically refilling the registers with change, counting and reconciling cash for each register at the end of the day and making bank deposits.

With cashless payments, everything is digitised through your POS till system, meaning you’re ready to go as soon as the till is switched on and all that counting time is eliminated. By doing this, some venues are reporting labour cost savings of up to 2 hours per day per staff member.

Additional benefits include vastly reducing the risk of exposing your business to human error and, because card and mobile transactions are automatically reconciled with your bank, there is also no need to pay for a security team to support your business with bank transfers.

2. Increase the volume of sales

On average, it takes 15 seconds to complete a cash transaction. By contrast, chip and pin takes between 5-8 seconds and contactless can be completed in just 2 seconds!

Part of the reason why Amadeus may have been so keen to go cashless at the Genting Arena was a realisation that the majority of customers were spending less than £30 on food and beverages at a show. That meant the potential to grow sales by getting more people to use cards and contactless technology in place of cash was huge.

A few seconds may sound insignificant but let’s consider the difference this could make within a typical 15-minute (900 second) half-time period.

900 seconds = 60 cash transactions = at £30 per transaction = £1,800

900 seconds = 450 contactless transactions = at £30 per transaction = £13,500

While this comparison isn’t wholly accurate (there would of course be additional time to factor in while people are selecting and placing their orders), hopefully you get the point that, when it comes to taking payments at your stadium business, transaction speed matters.

As well increasing revenue, this also works to improve the experience for fans who really don’t want to miss any of the action while queuing for food or merchandise.

3. Increase average spend

There have been several studies which compare card to cash payments and the simple fact is that, when using a card, people will spend more – and significantly so.

In fact, it has been reported that the average customer spend per visit to a stadium event can increase by as much as 25% when using a card payment instead of cash. With the volume of people coming to your stadium, that extra 25% could amount to hundreds of thousands pounds per event.

4. Reduce fraud and theft

Another big reason to go cashless is the improvements such a strategy can bring around fraud and theft, both of which are serious issues for the stadium sector.

Not only is the sight of tills and cash boxes highly attractive to thieves who may be targeting your venue, but also the often-transient nature of a stadium’s workforce can make it vulnerable to fraud/ theft from within.

Moving to a cashless hospitality POS system vastly reduces the opportunities for anyone to steal and, because digital transactions are easier to track, any discrepancies will also be much easier to spot.

Helping you to switch

At the moment, many people are still taking a ‘pick n mix’ approach to how they pay for different goods and services, however, the reality is that cash is increasingly becoming less important.

As we’ve mentioned above, there are some key areas in which the cashless business can see genuine cost benefits. For the stadium sector, with so many people passing through those gates at each event, those benefits can amount to a huge difference to the bottom line.

At SumUp, we’re working with stadium managers and directors to help them make these type of real operational improvements through the adoption our integrated point of sale + payments system across their venues. Our team is experienced in supporting businesses who wish to transition to cashless and would be happy to work with any stadium business that’s ready to take the leap.

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SumUp Team