Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena may soon be a cash free-zone, as Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment (MLSE) group is testing out cashless food and beverage kiosks which has led to an increased number of transactions, making it possible to serve more fans during events.

In June, MLSE decided to try out cashless kiosks at the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors and according to senior food and beverage manager for MLSE Michael Fagan, the company has seen not only an increase in transactions but also an increase in how much some customers are willing to spend in some cases.

Fagan says the MLSE made the decision to go ahead with a cashless trial in partnership with Mastercard (a major sponsor of the Maple Leafs, Raptors, and Toronto FC) and says for the most part customers have been fairly receptive.

Scotiabank Arena’s Pizza Pizza cashless location on one hundred level. Courtesy: Mastercard

Cashless is available in four food and beverage locations at the Scotiabank Arena, three on level one including a Pizza Pizza location, and a bar in section 118, as well as one on the vendor level.

These locations only accept credit or debit transactions, and MLSE and Mastercard branded signs are displayed above the kiosks as well as near the cashier stations to inform customers beforehand.

Fagan told ITBusiness.ca that the majority of fans seem to be okay with the credit or debit only option, though the MLSE has seen some negative feedback during certain events or concerts geared towards an older crowd. But he said, most fans during sports games (which draws in the arena’s largest crowds) have been supportive of the cashless kiosks.

Contactless to cashless

The MLSE has seen an increase in the number of its transactions through not just cashless but contactless payments. By offering contactless or tap payments at all its kiosks, MLSE has been able to serve more customers Fagan said, noting that the company has one of the best ratios in the NHL or NBA for food and beverage sales. The Scotiabank Arena sees 20,000 transactions per night on average, with cash making up only 30 to 35 per cent of that.

This may have been one of the contributing factors for the cashless trial.

With its four cashless locations, Fagan said it has seen a 10 per cent increase in the average amount of transactions in some cases, and a 10 per cent increase in how much customers spend in its bar location.

Though oddly enough the same trend of spending more has not been seen at the quick-serve locations participating in the trial.

“We’re not sure why that is,” Fagan said, “that’s something we’ll have to continue studying.” He also noted that the MLSE is looking into whether how much a fan pays for their ticket plays a role in whether or not they are more or less willing to shop at cashless kiosks.

“Merchants have come to learn there is a huge benefit in moving to contactless. Moving customers through a queue quickly in certain high turn over environments like a grocer or convenience store or quick-service restaurant is massively important,” says Iain McLean, senior vice-president of market development in Canada for Mastercard. “Seconds can save till time, and millions of dollars from [a company’s] bottom line every year.”

The Canadian move towards a cashless society

McLean stated that in Canada less than 30 per cent of transactions involve cash, noting that he sees an increasing number of merchants and consumers every year adopting contactless payments whether that’s with a credit card or through a mobile wallet such as Apple or Google Pay.

A Forex Bonuses report from earlier this year called Canada the number one country in the world for embracing cashless technology. Cashless payments are the future, the report stated, quoting experts who believe that cashless societies will exist by 2022.

The MLSE isn’t the only company opting into the cashless future, a number of retailers in Toronto and across Canada are also going digital when it comes to payments.

The Green Wood, is a sustainable-focused restaurant located in Toronto and its website advertises that it is cashless, stating, “we happily accept all major credit cards and debit cards, but no cash. Cashless is the way of the future.”

Toronto rotisserie chicken franchise Flock also notes on its website that all four of its quick-serve locations are cashless, though its sit-down restaurant still accepts cash. And according to a CTV News Atlantic report even a gift store chain in Nova Scotia has decided to become cashless in order to save time and money.

Malcolm Fowler chief product and partnership officer for Moneris told ITBusiness.ca, retailers chose to move away from cash to make payments more secure and easier to manage.

“The removal of cash makes [a merchant’s] life a fair bit simpler, both when the transaction occurs – but also from a security and cash management perspective. There’s a definite cost associated with the handling of cash and getting it to banks. Merchants are always looking for ways to keep not just their company running effectively, but keep customers happy and move them quickly through the line,” Fowler said.

However Canada isn’t quite there yet, as ITBusiness.ca has previously reported some experts from PayPal Canada, RBC and Interac feel that while the technology foundation for a cashless society exists, regulation is still lagging behind and Canada still has a ways to go before it becomes truly cashless.

When it comes to the Scotiabank Arena a full cashless experience may be much closer, Fagan told ITBusiness.ca that the MLSE has been pleased so far by the reception of cashless kiosks at the arena, and has plans to hopefully expand the program in early 2019 to more kiosks and move it up into the three hundreds level of the arena as well.

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