The 2011 Contactless Monkey Awards Finalists – Health/Lifestyle/Entertainment

This group – Health / Lifestyle / Entertainment throws up some very interesting applications above and beyond that of loyalty and payment-type applications we have grown accustomed to. This category was originally put forward to celebrate the diversity that comes from contactless technology applications and implementations. And there are many of them.

For instance, here are this category’s nominees;

  • Contactless payment solution in taxis – VeriFone (UK)
  • Contactless cards at Hove Festival – Festival Republic (Norway)
  • Interactive NFC installation for teenagers at the Pompidou Centre, Paris – Connecthings (France)
  • NFC applications in the city of Nice (France)

Well known in the contactless industry, VeriFone is a global leader in secure electronic payment technologies. They provide solutions, services, and expertise that enable electronic payment transactions and value-added services at the point of sale. VeriFone has a thriving taxi payment business in the US, especially in NYC, and introduced a similar scheme in London in December 2010. The VeriFone taxi payment solution consists of VeriFone’s Vx 810 PIN pad with contactless module (passenger-side), Vx 510 payment terminal for driver login and receipt printing (driver-side), multi-media screen playing safety video and other content and a small CPU which powers the system and manages connectivity. All products are physically installed in the cab on robust mounts with appropriate security locks and integrated directly to the taxi meter.

The transaction process flow:

  1. Driver logs in at the beginning of his/her shift.
  2. A passenger gets in and the driver starts the meter.
  3. The VeriFone payment system is integrated with the meter, so at the end of the journey the total cost is automatically pushed out to the Vx 810 PIN pad for the passenger. The driver does not need to re-enter any fare amounts.
  4. The passenger can pay by credit, debit or contactless card, either EMV or mag stripe.
  5. The driver prints the receipt on the Vx 510 and hands to the passenger.

There are currently around 120 licensed cabs now installed, with 4-5 installs taking place every day and the company says they are working as hard as they can to fulfil demand! VeriFone installed and trained the drivers and have a long-term business plan to roll-out the solution to as many UK taxis as possible. VeriFone told us that they realized that they could increase card usage in the UK, modernise London’s black cabs for the 2012 Olympics and the tourism industry, up contactless points of sale and in general, make both taxi drivers’ and passengers’ lives easier. Now no one has to worry about whether they have enough cash on hand to make it to their destination via taxi!

In autumn 2008 Festival Republic, the UK’s largest producer and promoter of music festivals in the UK were approached by a failing festival in the South of Norway to invest and use their expertise to give the festival a future. The festival was founded in 2007. The festival is called Hove and takes place in a forest on the island of Tromoy. The nearest city is Arendal which is in the county of Aust-Agder. The festival takes place annually over seven days, normally Sunday – Saturday in the last week June crossing into the first week of July. The festival attendance is made up of around 10000 campers who stay for up to seven days and an average of between 5000 and 6000 day visitors who travel in and out on a daily basis.

The entertainment consists of a mixture of Norwegian and International music acts along with Norwegian cinema, comedy, theatre, literature and art installations. Since the festivals inception it has attracted headline acts such as Muse, Arcade Fire, The Killers, Jay Z to name a few. The festival works with the Norwegian National Gallery and The Norwegian Film Board. Festival Republic ended up buying the festival and have operated it through their Norwegian company Hove Republic AS since 2009.

In early 2009 they were introduced to a Norwegian company, ESPOS, who were developing a cashless card payment scheme specifically with temporary events in mind. The system is a Radio-frequency identification (RFID) system. After a very lengthy discussion and negotiation process, which we are told included lawyers and accountants (!), they felt confident in ESPOS and the system to make the decision to introduce the cashless system into the Hove festival.

The Hove Festival was the first festival of this size in the world to introduce a total cashless system based on RFID technology. The cashless system is based around a debit type card with an embedded chip. This card is preloaded with money at a charging station on site by either cash, debit or credit card. The card has no PIN number so if lost or stolen is no different to cash in that sense. However the system has been developed and visitors are able to register their card with their personal details when they first charge it, so if it is lost or stolen the card can be blocked and reissued. We’ve been told that surprisingly few people take up this option!

Each vendor on site – bars, food outlets, shops, supermarket, and festival merchandise – has at least one reader based on a cash register. This reader is pre-programmed with the prices of goods or services available at that particular outlet. When a person makes a purchase they hold their card to the reader and the amount they have spent is deducted from the total on their card. At every stage of the process from charging to spending the readers can produce a paper receipt which is in fact more like a mini statement that will show the balance on the card before the purchase, the purchase and the balance post purchase. Once again a surprisingly few people take up this option.

Post festival cardholders can refund any money left on the card at the charging station on site directly back to their debit or credit card or can do it at home over the internet. In the long run the festival organizers hope to bring the system to their festivals in the UK.

Now everyone has heard of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. It’s a National museum of modern art, centre of industrial design, a public reference library and an institute for music/acoustic research and coordination (IRCAM) with:

  • over 5 M visitors in 2009;
  • over 65,000 artworks;
  • over 900 cultural activities a year (exhibitions, screenings, performing arts, etc.).

Connecthings is a pioneer in providing tags and contextualized – location and time based – content management systems. A scheme was started on 9th October 2010 to encourage teenagers to view more art, by making the experience more interactive using NFC technology. This specific “teenage space” was created, opening on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and during holidays. The Smart Muse Project also explores the potential of NFC technology within a cultural context and facilitates access, in real time, to rich multimedia content and connects with Centre Pompidou’s program and creates a relationship with the teen audience based on their digital practices. It has been found to be a great way to engage the audience because the Centre Pompidou believes that when it comes to art, being an involved player is better than spectator. The Centre wanted to engage the audience with art in a participative and simple way (mobile and NFC)

Now not all teenagers are keen on art, the information provided is totally dependent upon interest, prior knowledge or motivation but the Centre believes that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and making choices, whether good or bad, raises understanding, curiosity and creativity.” The Centre believes that to communicate with teenagers, it’s crucial to rely on their specific channels and their digital practices.

With SMART MUSE all multimedia content can be commented, rated and shared on their favourite social network through NFC tags and P2P:

  • Sharing the enthusiasm at its paroxysm
  • Bringing their friends to take part in unique events
  • Giving voice to our audience provides a less “institutionalized” communication
  • Interaction with artwork:
  • NFC offers new forms of creativity
  • Interacting directly with artwork provides a completely new experience

Teenagers are invited to collect sound-bites in order to create their own “urban tour” and every “urban tour” is unique and enhances understanding of the artwork. The hardware specifics on the project are:

  • 50 NFC phones are provided to teenagers – that means that teenagers have to wait to have one…
  • 80 tags are deployed – on the cartels, on the program (entrance) and on the artworks themselves.

At this stage, feedback from the Centre Pompidou is that the NFC service is very much appreciated: the phone is light, there’s freedom to visit the teenager space and to listen to the content when moving and it is very easy to use NFC technology.

And finally, if you are involved in the contacless payments indsutry you would have had to have been on a different planet not to have known that in May 2010, Christian Estrosi, France’s Minister of Industry, officially launched the Cityzi project in Nice, France. Between 3,000 and 4,000 of the city’s residents have been taking part in the scheme, which enables them to utilise NFC technology to pay for public transport tickets; obtain information about routes and timetables using smart posters; earn loyalty points; access multimedia exhibitions at local museums; access cultural events and access student services. You can actually see more about the project here.

The main elements of the Nice “cityzi” implementation are divided into the following four areas:

  • Payments: Consumers who purchase an NFC phone will be able to make payments at any merchant equipped to handle contactless payments.
  • Transport: Purchase of transport tickets and access to real-time travel information for all services calling at each bus and tram departure point in the Nice region. As well as travel information, the information points will also provide access to information services provided by the city council, events listings and the latest news articles from Nice Matin, the region’s daily newspaper.
  • Information services: As well as the travel services, additional services will be available, such as an NFC tag-based tour of the old city of Nice and the MAMAC museum.
  • Loyalty points: Consumers will be able to collect loyalty points automatically when they use their NFC phone to make a purchase.

The primary difference has been in ease of use of public transport, while also making the ticketing process greener by eliminating paper tickets.

Nice has been designated a major NFC pilot in France, so that from the lessons learned, further towns across France can implement NFC technology in the very near future.
Specifics are as follows;

  • 3,300 mobile subscribers
  • 1,500 stickers at bus and tram stops
  • 1,400 Nice merchants

So there you have the finalists for this category of Health / Lifestyle / Entertainment. A mixed bag, I am sure you’ll agree, but all very interesting and engaging projects.

And the winner….? On the 14th April of course!