The OLB Group Inc. on Thursday became the latest processor to support contactless payments and ticketing in sports stadiums when it announced it is partnering with EZ Sports Technologies to equip three arenas that are home to amateur baseball teams operated by National Sports Services. As part of the deal, OLB will provide payment processing and Evanston-based EZ Sports Technologies will provide electronic ticketing capabilities.
The technology will be used by the Lafayette, Ind. Aviators; Johnstown, Pa. Mill Rats; and Spartanburg, S.C. Spartanburgers. OLB will implement the technology in each stadium prior to the start of each team’s season, all of which begin in May. Of the three locations, the Aviators’ stadium is only one that will be cashless. The other two will continue to accept cash in addition to contactless-payment options. Each stadium has between 20 and 25 point-of-sale locations and a capacity of 2,000 to 7,000.
The decision to make the Aviators stadium cashless is based on myriad factors, including local demographics and the adoption of contactless payments by several sports venues in Indiana.
“Purdue University has gone cashless at its sporting events and some stadiums in Indianapolis are cashless. Plus, when the Aviators’ new stadium was built, we looked to rebuild the [point-of-sale] infrastructure from scratch,” says Bill Davidson, chief executive of National Sports Services. “But the big impetus was the pandemic, which is helping drive contactless payments.”
Lawrence, Kan.-based NSS provides a variety of services to the sports industry, including team ownership and operations and feasibility analysis. It also secures tenants for sports venues, schedules and manages major events, and assembles investor groups to own and operate franchises.
Contactless payments in sports stadiums have been steadily gaining momentum as those venues reopen to the public. Shift4 Payments Inc., for example, secured a substantial foothold in that market segment earlier this year with the acquisition of VenueNext Inc.
Fans attending games at the stadiums housing the three summer collegiate teams will be able to purchase their tickets online or at the box office and will receive a QR code to gain entry to the stadium. Once inside, they can pay for purchases using contactless cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal, as well as cryptocurrency.
OLB, which added support for QR codes to its platform in March, will also track purchasing behavior that can be used to craft marketing promotions and incentives. In addition, NSS will also be able to use the data to plan food, beverage, and merchandise inventory for upcoming games, says OLB chief executive Ronny Yakov.
“For NSS, the biggest plus is that it will be able to consolidate [its] digital-ticketing and payment services, as well as data analytics, on a single platform,” Yakov says. “Contactless payments are growing and we expect them to stick post-pandemic as cash is being used less and less.”