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Atlanta Stadium’s Cashless Move Shows Little Demand For Cash

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The move toward cashless has set in motion any number of initiatives, spanning any number of businesses where consumers shop, from retail (a la Amazon Go and other tech-driven concepts) to stadiums.

In news last month, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta went cashless, accepting credit cards, debit cards and mobile payments. As had been reported, the company also deployed several machines that let customers exchange cash for a prepaid Visa card.

The stadium was the first pro sports stadium to go cashless, a designation that took effect March 10. The goals had been and still are, perhaps unsurprisingly, to cut down on lines, and boost sales volumes.

The stadium also said at the time that it would, as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, drop a previous policy that relied on “whole-dollar pricing” at concession stands. Officials announced last month that prices would be lowered on five concession items by 50 cents apiece in tandem with the cashless initiative. For example, the price of a hot dog was dropped from $2 to $1.50.

In an interview conducted over written exchange with Heather Sautter, director of corporate and marketing communications for AMB Group, parent company of the stadium, she said card use has remained higher than mobile, “at this time,” but added that mobile use has been growing dramatically, measured year on year. The Mercedes-Benz efforts are also not isolated ones. “Other venues have announced they are going to go either fully or partially to the card/mobile only model,” according to Sautter. In at least one example of other mobile/cashless initiatives, last year the Detroit Lions deployed digital and physical upgrades to food offerings, which has included testing of mobile order-ahead food services.

The activity at the aforementioned cash-to-card kiosks Mercedes-Benz venue averaged less than 1 percent of attendees, noting that the kiosks are intended to be an alternative for those who choose not to use their own credit card, debit card or mobile device.

“The low utilization rate tells us that people are planning ahead and either not bringing cash and only a card or loading mobile pay on their devices. Additionally, it tells us that people are willing to adapt to the card and mobile-only model, but for those who would prefer to use cash, they do have an alternative,” Sautter told PYMNTS, and noted that the cards can also be used outside the stadium, in the manner of any other prepaid Visa card.

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