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Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a National Football League (NFL) stadium in Atlanta, went completely cashless on March 10 in an effort to cut down on lines and increase efficiency and sales volume.
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The stadium now accepts only credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallets — and early consumer behavior indicates comfort with the cash-free policy, per PYMNTS.
Here’s what it means: In less than a month since the stadium went cashless, consumers are demonstrating a preference for noncash payments.
- The stadium offers an alternative to enable cash-reliant consumers to pay by card. To accommodate consumers who prefer or need to use cash, the stadium installed 10 machines where attendees can insert between $1 and $1,000 in cash and receive a Visa prepaid card to spend at the stadium.
- But less than 1% of attendees have opted into that payment method so far. This preliminary result could suggest that the machines aren’t effective alternatives to cash, but it might also mean that the majority of attendees were prepared with cashless payment methods.
The bigger picture: These results come at a time when US consumers are seemingly less reliant on cash.
- US consumers are becoming more comfortable with going cashless, which is good news for payments firms. In 2018, 29% of US adults said they don’t make purchases using cash during a typical week, up from 24% in 2015. And for payments firms that collect per-transaction card swipe fees, it’s in their best interest for retailers to go cashless.
- Noncash payments can speed up transaction times and improve security, making high-volume stadium events good places to implement a cashless strategy. Quick transactions like concession purchases can effectively demonstrate the convenience of noncash payment methods to a high volume of consumers, representing an opportunity for payment players to showcase their solutions. Visa is one firm that’s been at the forefront of streamlining stadium payments with its introduction of contactless and wearable solutions at events like the Olympics and the World Cup.
But proponents of going cashless are being met with opposition from lawmakers enacting laws on behalf of cash-reliant consumers.In March, legislators in both New Jersey and Philadelphia banned cashless retailers. Advocates of these regulations assert that cashless businesses can marginalize customers who don’t have access to cards.
Similarly, authorities in both the UK and China, where cash is rapidly declining, have stated that not accepting cash is discriminatory and can put certain people at risk. And this sentiment rings true in the US, where 25% of the population is un- or underbanked — a segment that will ultimately perpetuate cash usage and necessitate cash acceptance among retailers nationwide.
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