Wireless Systems Design

Football Fans Shell Out RFID Payments

Radio-frequency-identification (RFID) technologies have altered the course of numerous industries, including automotive, retail, and manufacturing. Now, RFID is finding ways to improve consumers' lives as well. In Seattle, Wash., for example, an RFID payment and marketing solution is helping to speed concession purchases at Seahawks football games.

Developed by SMART System Technologies, Inc. (www.PowerPayIt.com), the PowerPay system allows Seattle Seahawks fans to wirelessly pay for concession items on the Club Level (see photo). To make their purchases, fans simply have to wave a keyfob over a PowerPay reader at a point-of-sale terminal. At the backbone of this system is the PowerPay Secure Marketing Architecture for Retail Transactions (SMART) network. This network promises to transmit payment information wirelessly and securely. The transaction is processed in seconds.

The PowerPay keyfob is RF-enabled with RFID technology from Texas Instruments RFid Systems (www.ti-rfid.com). Because that technology makes contactless consumer payment possible, PowerPay users don't have to worry about carrying cash to the game for concessions. Conveniently, they also can have their purchases applied to the credit or check card of their choice.

Initially, this opportunity has only been offered to Exclusive Club Seat ticket holders at Seattle Seahawks NFL football games. It was introduced for the 2003-2004 pre-season. Since that introduction, 33% of the Club season-ticket holders have opted into the PowerPay program.

For the Seahawks, this technology could translate into an increase in transaction frequency and revenue. The team is supporting the program by providing opportunities for rewards. It's also giving PowerPay users the chance to win valuable prizes, including autographed Seahawks merchandise.

This technology can benefit merchants as well. With PowerPay's SMART network, merchants can create target groups of consumers. They can then send individuals relevant content and offers based on their buying preferences and demographic data. Such offers would be automatically reconciled at the point of sale.

Radio-frequency ID has already proved its worth in many industrial and manufacturing segments. Now, it's offering convenience that consumers can both see and feel. As a result, RFID could catch on in stadiums across the world. Entertainment arenas may very well serve as this technology's launching point into the consumer mainstream.

By paying for items with an RFID keyfob, fans can spend less time in the concession line and more time catching the action.

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