- The San Antonio Spurs have transformed the AT&T Center into a cashless venue.
- The move was made in partnership with payment firm Tappit.
- The Spurs are the first NBA team to leverage Tappit’s technologies for cashless payment.
Although there was never really much evidence that cash–be it coins or currency–had a significant role in the transmission of the COVID-19 virus it isn’t surprising that people want to minimize its use. I first knew something was up with the oncoming pandemic when I was in Portland, Oregon and my wife and I had lunch at a ramen place. Cash wasn’t allowed, menus were on iPads and the waitress actually did the pressing of the buttons for you.
Even though the link to COVID-19 is dubious, it’s definitely well past time to do everything possible to minimize cash transactions. Cash is nasty and for some reason the United States’ cash is worse than most countries. Even in the innovation phobic Nevada gaming industry state gaming regulators have grudgingly opened the door for cash free transactions. That’s why it isn’t surprising to see an increasing number of pro and college sports venues go cash free. In some cases, it might be a temporary move but other teams are clearly going ‘all in’ with the elimination of folding green.
One such team is the NBA San Antonio Spurs. They’ve announced that when fans return to their home court at the AT&T Center they’ll find that the in-arena economy has become cash free. Instead, payments will be facilitated through a mobile app called ‘Spurs Pay’. The team set up the technology in partnership with Tappit, a company specializing in this type of transition. According to the press release announcing the deal, the Spurs are the first NBA team and the third major US sports team to leverage Tappit’s technology to create a cashless ecosystem in their arena.
Tappit will provide its white-label mobile payment technology for fans through the Spurs official app, which will allow fans to make purchases using only their cell phone. Fans can link their preferred payment method to the app to enjoy a frictionless experience at concession and merchandise stands throughout the stadium to purchase food, drinks and merchandise quickly and efficiently. It also makes it easier than ever for teams to connect with fans, as those using the app also receive personalized vouchers, incentives and loyalty points. Most importantly, the data and insights delivered by the platform will help the Spurs maximize the fan experience and ensure operations are as efficient as possible.
Brandon Gayle, the Spurs’ EVP of Revenue, Brand and Communication, suggests that the move is part of an ‘upgraded’ fan experience:
“Health and safety are at the forefront of all our fan experience upgrades this year, so we are very excited to introduce the AT&T Center as a cashless venue for Spurs games. We trust Tappit to help us create a safer environment for fans, staff and players alike. We are proud to be able to take our safety precautions one step further with the implementation of cashless payments, which minimizes person-to-person contact while also improving fan experience.”
Tappit’s CEO, Jason Thomas, suggests that fans want solutions like what his company offers before they return to live sporting events:
“Our priority is to keep everyone safe as they’re easing back into large venues and live events this year. Here at Tappit, we recently conducted a survey of American sports fans to learn more about their confidence levels around returning to live events. With more than a quarter of Americans indicating they’re comfortable enough to attend events in-person in the next six months, we’re certainly excited for the future – but we know it’s more important than ever to take as many safety precautions as possible in order to ensure a stress-free return for fans. One of the most crucial aspects is implementing cleaner, safer, cashless payments through solutions like ours, which also equip teams with data and customer insights that other payment methods can’t provide.
Tappit’s first two ‘cashless venue’ customers were NFL teams–the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs. This is something that is long overdue but apparently it took a pandemic for Americans to take personal health and hygiene seriously. Besides that, it’s a no-brainer. It’ll be more convenient for fans, should expedite buying nachos and beer and offers plenty of upside for the team in terms of accounting and logistics. Now they just need to integrate cryptocurrency as a payment solution.