A new microchip wristband has been developed for festival goers to top up with money and use as a payment method. It’s being introduced at a few festivals this year, so cashless festivals could be closer than we think.
Hannah Jolliffe, Which? Conversation editor, wants to see a wristband roll-out:
Imagine you’re off to a festival this summer.
In ‘scenario one’ you can take a big wad of cash with you to keep you going in food and drink while you’re there – and possibly a credit or debit card if there are cash points on site.
In ‘scenario two’, there’s no need for cash. You can take a device that you’ve topped up with money in advance and use that to pay for everything. The festival is a cashless community.
Which would you choose? For me it’s a no-brainer. I’ve spent many a festival nervously clutching on to my bag as I scramble through the crowds, knowing there are some nimble-fingered punters ready to relieve me of my money. Reducing that risk has to be a good thing.
A new wristband, complete with personal microchip, has been developed to do exactly this. It’s being introduced at a few festivals this year, so scenario two could be closer than we think.
Yes, there are questions I’d like answered – how much information will the microchip be allowed to collect about me and who will have access to it, for example – although Glastonbury guru Michael Eavis’s reaction has already calmed my nerves on that point:
‘I don’t want to take people into a land they don’t want to go into. And using information about people, I wouldn’t be happy about that.’
And he did add that it ‘seems like an incredible system’ and he ‘might be tempted’ to use it.
Doomsayers are writing the invention off as ‘too commercial’, but I can’t see how using a wristband to pay for your five quid falafel is any more or less commercial than paying with money – it’s just a different method. And if it gets nicked? Ring up and cancel it – you can’t do that with cash.
Sarah Kidner, Which? Computing editor, wants to keep the free spirit of festivals alive:
Anyone who’s ever been to Glastonbury knows what a surprising, surreal and ultimately sensational experience it is. It’s also the perfect place to unplug from work, so-called real-life and become anonymous for a while.
Now, a new hi-tech wristband – complete with personal microchip – could make that anonymity a thing of the past. Maker Intellitix claims the wristband could help wipe out ticket touting and could also be used to buy goods on site.
I can see why Hannah argues that a cashless festival is a good idea, but what worries me is that the technology inside the wristband – Radio Frequency Identification or RFID – can be used for tracking goods and for storing personal information. Potentially, this could be fed back to festival organisers about what I’ve bought at the festival.
Based on last year’s Glastonbury, this would reveal a couple of late-night trips to the festival’s famous cider bus, and that I paid the princely sum of £3 for one slice of cheese on toast.
More worryingly it could track my movements about the site, the stages I’ve visited and the bands I like. What’s to stop them bombarding me with marketing about those bands or with messages to buy the obligatory Glastonbury T-shirt?
In the past 20 years I’ve attended three Glastonbury festivals, each one more commercial than the last, but for me these wristbands are a step too far.
Are you for or against hi-tech microchip wristbands at festivals?
For (70%, 74 Votes)
Against (30%, 31 Votes)
Total Voters: 105