James Kane

To avoid queues, Singaporean events should go cashless


The loud roar of engines revs up the final quarter of 2016 – as Singapore turns up its glitz and glamour, in conjunction with the 9th Formula One Singapore Grand Prix season. Yet, after almost a decade of mega-events of this scale, attendees are still facing the same massive queues as before.

Just this past weekend, the 2nd Ultra Singapore took place, a two-day buffet of the best electronic dance music. However, from the reviews, it seemed that many attendees had to enjoy their musical experience from the drinks, food, entry, and exit queues.

Some remarked that they queued up for almost two hours just to buy a coupon and queuing up again to redeem it. Then there were plenty with unused coupons at the end of the night. Others remarked that there was a slow line to get in and even worse wait when trying to get out.

These scenarios are not limited to any specific festival; anyone who has ever gone to a crowded event will know that queues are to be expected. However, in 2016, shouldn’t we expect better?

Singapore is a perfect place to start cashless and eventually queue-less events. The island nation has more than 90% smartphone penetration for easy implementation and rock-solid finance infrastructure to handle the transactions.

With the large marketing push by ApplePay, SamsungPay, Visa payWave, and many others, we’ve all accepted cashless payments one way or another.

Using a combination of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Near Field Communication (NFC) based solutions, and electronic wallets (e-wallets), cashless technology will eradicate queues for good.

Event organisers can create an integrated ecosystem that vastly improves their attendees’ experiences. To end queues with cashless technology, we start online.

After purchasing a ticket, attendees can be given the option to set up an e-wallet with their information. It will enable them to do the following:
- Add preloaded credits to prevent overspending by setting limits and pay without carrying multiple cards or bulky wallets
- Pre-booking of F&B prior or at the event

Another way to clear the queue to serve food and drinks faster, pre-orders becomes a better time management tool to prevent bottlenecks. Having a better gauge of consumption can result in spending less on stock.

This process can also improve the cash flow for event organisers; it is not unheard of to see up to one-third of an event’s food and beverage revenue upfront.

At the event, simple additions in hardware will be the next step. Instead of flimsy paper wristbands that can be tampered with and require human verification, attendees can get RFID-enabled wristbands.

With average-priced NFC smartphones to read these wristbands, verified entry, re-entry, and exit can be instantaneous – further reducing human traffic jams.

Finally, being cashless at events eliminates the long standing “barriers to exit” of funds – meaning attendees lose out when they have unused coupons or credits purchased at the event.

With the e-wallet, it can allow for instant refunds of unspent credit back to one’s personal account. This reduces lines of people wanting their money back at the end of the night.

Event organisers usually hate to refund such leftover credits, hence it can be used for future events and at participating venues. For example, event attendees can use their credits when they proceed to designated after-party venues for special discounts. This way, event organisers can continue doing business long into the night.

Attendees have always complained about queues to event organisers and it has been begrudgingly accepted as a norm. With a minor change in consumer behaviour of switching to a cashless experience, Singaporeans can finally stop queuing up and actually start enjoying events. 

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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James Kane

James Kane

James was working in the RFID industry for cards providers doing branding events, and felt the tech could be better utilised by introducing RFID wristbands and cashless into large events. As a veteran in the 'people' space (Hotel/F&B, sales/marketing, lifestyle/events), he founded RFID solutions provider GoGORILLA in 2012. GoGORILLA was acquired by cashless payments provider Sandpiper AG in 2016.

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