Saracens Go Contactless For Improved Fan Experience

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Rugby fans can use wristbands to pay for food, drinks and merchandise in the ground, but then also acts as a contactless card outside of it

Rugby wouldn’t be the first sport that would spring to mind when you say the word contactless, but one of England’s leading sides is pioneering new ways of improving the fan experience via contactless payment technology.

Premiership side Saracens have announced they are trialling contactless payment wristbands for season ticket holders at their Allianz Park stadium, which, among other things, allow fans to skip the queues at food and drink stalls, as well as act as ID cards to enter the stadium or corporate hospitality boxes.

The technology has been implemented by Gemalto, and following a successful; first trial run is set to launch across all Saracens season ticket holders by the start of the next Premiership season in September.

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“Fundamentally, it is a contactless card – in a wristband”, Howard Berg, Gemalto’s SVP, UK & Ireland, and a Saracens fan and member for over 25 years, told TechWeek Europe.

“We want to create a completely cashless stadium.”

The wristbands are pre-paid, meaning fans can top up before heading to the stadium by pairing with an existing credit or debit card, and can even use leftover credit to pay for their travel home, for example using the contactless payment technology on TfL’s transport network.

“It’s a convenient and easy way for the members or season ticket holders to get in and around the ground,” says Berg, who says that cash payments are becoming phased out for the convenience of card and contactless methods.

Saracens were also a perfect partner as they only moved to the purpose-built Allianz Park in 2013, meaning the legacy systems in place at many older stadiums was not in place, and the commercial infrastructure was pre-set to accept contactless payments.

The data from customer buying habits will then be analysed by the club and used to provide fans with targeted promotions or advertising, hopefully driving them to spend more on food, drink or merchandise.

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Gemalto previously piloted a similar contactless wristband scheme during the Six Nations tournament earlier this year, offering VIP customer branded RFU wristbands to use at selected Guinness concessions stands, which Berg said was a great success.

The company also provided the technology for a Southampton FC-branded scheme set up by Barclaycard using its bPay wristbands at the club’s St. Mary’s Stadium last September.

Ultimately, the scheme to make Allianz Park a ‘cashless stadium’ looks to speed up the payment process for fans and officials alike, something the Saracens board is also backing.

“Offering supporters the convenience and security of payment with nothing more than a tap of the wrist is another example of our determination to deliver the best possible match day experience,” said Stefan Crouse, Saracens chief operating officer for Saracens.

“Gemalto has unrivaled experience in this field, and the Allynis Smart Event Platform offers all the advantages of a single and fully integrated source of supply.”

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