The audience at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest was equipped with contactless payment wristbands, thanks to a collaboration between sponsors Visa Europe and Gemalto. The free NFC-equipped wristbands were available at the Eurovision Village in Stockholm, Sweden, in the week leading up to the Contest, which culminated in the Grand Final at the Globe Arena on Saturday 14 May.
In addition to the television audience (estimated at 200 million worldwide), 65,000 music lovers attended the Grand Final, which was won by the Ukrainian entry. That's a lot of people who will be able to enjoy contactless experiences, including shopping without carrying cash or payment cards, for the next few months - the wristbands will continue to be active until 31 October 2016. Users can access a website that holds real-time account information, including prepaid balances and history, and the wristbands can be used to make payments at any Visa-ready contactless POS terminal in the world.
The Eurovision initiative is part of a growing trend for the use of secure contactless wristbands in the entertainment industry. Major music festivals such as Lollapalooza in the US and Glastonbury in the UK have already experimented with them, with great success. Festivals are events where people like to travel light, and the wristbands are unobtrusive, hard to lose and easy to access, and cut transaction times when buying food, drinks and merchandise.
That's good news for the organizers of such events, too. For one thing, quicker transaction times should mean greater profits. Then there are the security benefits: wearable contactless payment devices such as wristbands are harder to copy or steal than physical tickets. What's more, using NFC contactless technology enables organizers to develop loyalty programs and sophisticated marketing and communications strategies based on the data collected.
For instance, Disney World in the US has seen a 7% increase in attendance and a 20% increase in revenue since it introduced the contactless MagicBand, which allows visitors to access their entrance tickets, hotel rooms and dinner reservations, and to make payments. It's an example that increasing numbers of entertainment organizations are likely to follow in the near future.