Piloting Cell Phone Payments at Philips Arena in Atlanta

by Erin McCune on March 22, 2006

in Payments News

Approximately 150 season ticket holders of the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers
professional basketball and hockey teams were given Nokia 3220
cellphones with special chips embedded in the handset cover. The chip and digital wallet software, allows linking to their existing
Chase credit card accounts in order to make payments at concession stands in Atlanta's Philips Arena. The concession stands have small terminals to support the payments. Pilot participants were given a 20% discount on food & drink as encouragement to make purchases with their cell phones.

An excerpt from the New York Times, highlighting customer feedback:

At the game last week, Mr. Peek was impressed with the cool factor as much as the convenience. He enjoyed the 20 percent discounts on arena prices even more.

Other participants, like Tim King, 41, were pleased at having one less thing to carry. ''My cellphone goes with me everywhere,'' he said. ''My credit cards do not.''

But the real value, Mr. Peek added, was the phone's ability to serve as an interactive game-day program. Philips Arena's management hung about 150 posters that rely on a special chip to beam team statistics, game highlight videos and injury reports.

Mr. Peek, a 42-year-old Thrashers diehard who has missed just one game in six seasons, found one of the posters on his way into the stands. Within a few seconds of pressing his handset against a one-inch wide Thrashers logo on the chart, he was able to learn that Garnet Exelby, a defenseman recovering from a concussion, was cleared to play.

Read the full article here. 

Consumers in Asia and Europe are already accustomed to making mobile payments using smart cards or their cell phones. But the US has been slow to follow. In Japan 10 million cellphones are used for convenience store purchases and mass transit fares. However, a number of banks and wireless companies are developing wireless payment products, eager to replace lost credit card fees and attract young consumers who may have a cell phone but no checking account or credit card.

Of course there are challenges inherent in any new payment method. Banks, credit card companies, and wireless carriers have yet to agree on how they will split the fee revenue. It is unclear whether the technology will be open or proprietary, limited to transactions with a single account with a specific bank. Security must balance the desire to make payments quick and easy.
Banks are reluctant to intorduce a PIN because they collect lower fees for PIN transactions. yet a password will make consumers feel more comfortable, especially if they misplace their phone.

Ring Up My Bill, Please; Mobile Payment Via Cellphone
The New York Times
March 21, 2006

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