What is the Future of Paying for Tickets?

The payments industry is changing fast. Unlike other industries that have balked at disruptive technologies, the payments industry has embraced change. But what this means is that the payments of 2020 are going to be very different than the payments of 2014. We look at what options are here, what is coming and how to keep track of it all.

The advent of a cashless society has not really hit fully, but cash is seems to be on the out. Even for small purchases, people are more inclined to use cards, even if only to track their spending habits.

In the UK for example, research shows that over 2.2 billion credit card purchases were made, worth £140 billion in one year. Keep in mind that is not including chip and pin figures.

While card fraud is still an issue, chip and pin and new security measures being put in place by Visa and those already in place by MasterCard means cards are getting more rather than less secure to use. And yet credit cards and debit cards are also looking to fade as new technologies take over. And interestingly, credit card companies are all for it.

Other technologies, such as PayPal have seen more success, but both merchants and their customers are wary of Paypal “freezing” funds and the like. And while some retail outlets do offer the pay by Paypal option, many consumers have complained of the payment option not functioning at all.

Digital Wallets

Digital wallets such as Google Wallet and Apple’s Passbook, securely store your credit and debit cards, as well as loyalty cards, gift cards and the like. Both Google Wallet and Passbook also allow you to send money to anyone with a wallet as well. If you own an iTunes account – you have Passbook already. This plus the newly launched Apple Pay and Google Wallet, both on and offline payments can be made easily. In addition to the wallet, Apple Pay and Google Wallet are also NFC enabled (near field communications) which means you can tap to pay – just like you can use your contactless credit card for small purchases currently – but with your phone.

Detractors say that the issues are many, 1. security, 2. investment into POS, 3. iPhone 6 penetration,  and 4. battery life – these are not insurmountable by any stretch, especially give how fast the payments industry is moving. (Incidentally, for each of these points, there is a counter: 1. Apple Pay security is actually better and improving compared to other technologies, 2. investment into new POS is bound to come anyway, and Apple will control both the merchant and the consumer tech., 3. iPhone 6 penetration remains to be seen, to early to predict 4. Battery technology is moving rapidly as well).

And while say that Apple Pay with be met with “meh” in Europe due to the fact that chip and pin is already a very secure way to pay, some retailers do not accept card payments (even debit) for items under €10. And what’s more it is really about the option for example, in Spain, you can get money from your account, via a cash machine with just your mobile phone and nothing else.


Bitcoin. Considered a beacon of freedom to some, and the dark unknown to others, is still a new currency. Being new, it is an extremely volatile form of currency. You can buy them, transfer them or mine them (by solving complex maths problems), and what makes them very attractive to some consumers is the ability to make purchases with relative anonymity (bitcoin purchases can be tracked, but it is not very easy, making it an ideal payment option for nefarious activities). Bitcoins are stored in online or mobile wallets as well, but bitcoins are unregulated and not insured, thereby making their mainstream uptake slow. It may not stay that way for long, as regulators are already swooping in and making more concrete regulations around virtual currencies.

Some companies such as Square, that provide POS systems for small to medium sized merchants are in the process of creating terminals that will accept bitcoins and Apple Pay. While the company has not indicated when these new terminals will be ready for the market, they are clearly betting on bitcoins sticking around, and their growing acceptance.

Other Ways to Pay

Other retailers and are also interested in exploring new payment options. Big box retailers in the US, for example, are considering their own payment systems for their customers. It is not to far fetched to see these sorts of systems expanding into the UK and Ireland.

While there may seem to be an awful lot of ifs ands or buts about payments, you can start looking, tracking and planning now.

Tracking your sales

Tracking how your patrons are already paying, and how they have previously been paying is start of understanding how your audience may choose to pay in the future. Historical data is vital to understanding and seeing the patterns of your particular patron base. And part in parcel with that is understanding your your target audience.

POS is changing

POS is certainly changing, but it will take time. You may or may not need to rethink your POS depending on your audiences’ buying behaviours. What’s more, it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Maybe it is just smart concessions, or merchandising that you want to upgrade. Making changes incrementally, maybe the best and least expensive way to go.

Another thing to consider is that as POS and payments emerge and evolve, rather than changing an entire POS, all that may be required is an add-on, but that remains to be seen.

Purchasing options are a good thing

Not every customer wants to buy online, and not every customer wants to buy at the box office. Giving customers the option to purchase via kiosk, online, offline, Apple Pay – whatever they choose – gives them the freedom and encouragement to buy. For a lot of these unique payment options there are pluses and their are minuses, and each patron will have their list. Choice, puts the purchasing options back into the patrons hands.

What will happen to payment fees?

What is interesting is that there is little indication of any type of payments fees with new forms of payments. The landscape is changing so fast, that no one is quite sure where fees will or will not land. It is a (hopefully) optimistic outcome for merchants.

A Final Thought.

Consumers are facing a barrage of information, marketing messages, and promotions. At the end of the day though, if they don’t click, tap or shake their way to pay for the cart – we haven’t reached our best end goal. The payment option of the future is the one that makes it easiest for your patrons to purchase what they want from you. 

iPhone 6, Mobile Payments and Ticketing

Like many people, we were looking forward to seeing the new iPhone 6. We were especially interested in the new payment capabilities of the new iPhone. So how easy are payments and transactions completed on the latest iPhone? Let’s take a look at the new payment capabilities and see what this could mean for the future of ticket payments for theatres, venues and festivals.

Payment technologies have stagnated. While PayPal was meant to usher in the next great revolution in payments, we still rely heavily on cash and credit cards for transactions. True there are mobile transaction options available, but these are still executed in a non-trivial way.

Non-trivial is the key. Too many steps, too much complication and the transaction is lost. iPhone is at an advantage here, because millions of people already use the iPhone’s built in wallet to access iTunes. This linked credit card stays “hidden” even now, which means, you could eventually do away with the card altogether.

The wallet was Apple’s first step in gaining payments trust with consumers. The iPhone 6 uses the NFC payment chip to allow for contact less payments via the iPhone.

Apple isn’t the first to try chip payments from phones or other devices, however, (and this bit is critical to success) iPhone has critical mass – enough people who have it to force use, and they have serious brand loyalty and trust amongst user. What’s more as Wired pointed out Apple controls both the hardware and software. That means, the Apple only needs to rely on itself and no one else.

“Google supported NFC with its own wallet, but few handsets came out with the chips inside, since few payment terminals would take them. And few merchants bothered to accept NFC, since so few phones had it. That uncertainty disappears as soon as an NFC-enabled iPhone 6 floods the streets.”

Critical mass is essential for NFC payments to take off. While time will tell if the iPhone 6 will “flood the streets”, the fact that Apple controls both the hardware and software makes it seem reasonable to take off – if it does at all.

The next hurdle is of course the credit card companies themselves. But credit card companies have long known that plastics days are numbered, and have been trying to crack mobile payments for years without much success. So again it makes sense that Visa, MasterCard and American Express have joined up with Apple to back the new iPhone mobile payments.

So what does this mean for theatres, venues and festivals?

  1. 24/7 sales. These could be done via kiosk, anytime of the day or night.
  2. Ticket buying becomes trivial. Passing by your favourite theatre? Comedy show looks interesting for tomorrow night, step up to the kiosk and do a contact less payment. Fast and easy.
  3. Last minute ticket purchases (especially when queues are long) will be easier.
  4. Merchandise purchasing and extras become trivial purchases.
  5. Onsite festival purchasing and ticket purchasing becomes easier.
  6. While most people will still purchase tickets early on for shows and festivals, making ticket purchasing trivial via your mobile, means purchasing can happen anytime, anywhere.

Who is the target market for this? Millennials.

Honestly, I am pretty sure that Boomers may be skeptical of contact less payments that for higher amounts than what is currently being operated in the UK. Boomers are also not necessarily going to run out and buy a new iPhone 6 when their current phone works perfectly well thank you very much.

Millennials, those folk who are 20/30ish, are likely going to buy an iPhone 6, and will be open to new ways to pay.

Wave to pay is already in the UK, but it will be interesting to see how Apple’s mobile to pay trials will go in the US in the coming months.

Apple still has to answer questions about security (and what happens if your battery runs out), but being the smartphone market leader Apple is well poised to take on mobile chip payments.

Donations Opt-in not Opt-out – are you compliant?

On the 13th of June 2014, new Consumer Contracts Regulations in the UK will come into force. Your arts organisation needs to be compliant with the new donations regulations.

For the arts and festival industry, at issue, is the opt-in versus opt-out for voluntary donations at ticket purchase check-out.

Opt-in versus Opt-out

Opt-in versus opt-out means that the customer must actively consent to the payment. For example, in the case of ticketing, a pre-ticked box (during the check out process) adding a donation to a theatre or a venue will no longer be allowed. The customer must actively “click a box” to opt-in for the donation.

The Challenge for Arts Organisations

This change will have an impact on arts organisations, when you consider the psychology of giving. Defaults are typically left as is in the check out process so an opt-out donation box, especially for a “low” amount such as £1 or 50p, generates quite a bit of income. Opting in will likely generate less.

What Can You Do?

Definitely consider how to message and position the donation. Creating a strong motivation and (suggested giving amount) can help keep donations steady. One example, is to state the goal clearly : “We would like to raise £1,000 this year and with your help we can! Just £1 from you is all it takes.”

How Does Ticketsolve Support this Change?

Ticketsolve’s donation feature takes patrons through to separate donations page during check out. Here is how it works – in a simple example:

  1. Patrons add tickets to their basket.
  2. Once they click “buy now” they are taken to their cart.
  3. Their cart will show the their line item purchases.
  4. One item is “donations” which is set at “free” or “zero” (see below on how to do this).
  5. When they click “proceed to checkout” they will be taken to a donations page where they can set the donation amount – if they wish – and continue with the check out process.

If you use the auto donate feature in Ticketsolve, here is what you need to change in order to be compliant.

  1. Change the “price” field to 0
  2. In the “donation prices” box enter 0 as the lowest price, separating from other prices with a comma.
  3. Change the value for the auto tag to 0, e.g., “auto:0”

If you don’t currently use the donation feature, but would like to set it up contact support and we can get you started.

Do you use the auto donate feature? How has it worked for you?


Laser Cards Discontinued

Last week we emailed customers about banks ceasing laser transactions in Ireland. Since 2007, banks have been replacing laser cards with Visa or Mastercard debit cards.

Ticketsolve has now removed the laser payment option from our checkout.

Don’t worry you don’t need to do anything, but we just wanted to ensure you know.