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Festival International 2019: How to use the wristband tech this year

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RFID technology came to Festival International last year but its use is expanded and easier this year.

Festival International is next week! Let’s hope you’ve mapped out your food stops, stocked up on sunscreen and circled the bands you want to check out.

But are you ready to purchase drinks, food and merchandise?

The RFID wristband system is in the second year the festival has implemented it and they’ve made a few changes to make things easier for festival goers. The entire process is a little confusing if you haven’t experienced a cashless event before, so we’ve broken it down so it makes more sense.

What is RFID?

The wristband is a digital payment system you can use toward food, drinks and festival merchandise, similar to platforms like Apple Pay. Once you get a wristband, you log on to to create an account, load money on it from a credit or debit card, or you can load cash on it on-site.

How does it work?

Step 1: Get a wristband ahead of time at Parish Ink, Downtown Alive or Hub City Sports. You can also get it at Festival on-site at the 10 stations or at every merchandise tent.

Step 2: Load money onto your wristband. You can start by “topping-up” using cash, credit or debit card. You can do this by going to the website, through the mobile app or on-site during Festival. They’re called “top-up” stations on the festival grounds. Don’t worry, none of your information goes to Festival International. It works just as you would use a credit or debit card at Rouses. The information is temporarily stored on a separate server just for the transaction, then is deleted into never-never land. But if security is a major concern, you can also load cash onto your wristband.

Step 3: Proceed to festival your butt off. With your wristband loaded and ready to go, you can use it to purchase drinks, merchandise and now food! Organizers recommend loading about $75 per day, to cover at least one meal and three drinks. Once you make purchases by double-tapping your wristband at vendor locations, the amount spent will automatically be deducted from your account balance. If you run out of credit, you can top-up again or set your account to auto top-up for easy convenience.

Step 4: After Festival, you can request a refund for any unused money on your account. There is a $5 processing fee. None of that money goes to Festival, however. It’s used to process the payments and goes to the company who facilitates the RFID system. If you want to make sure that $5 gets back to Festival International, you can donate your remaining balance. If you have a $0 balance on your account, there is no fee. (Do you really need a reason to get just one more drink?)

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▲ Aide RFID Wristband

Why is this wristband such a good thing?

Less Waste

Before the RFID system, Festival relied on a ticket system. It was clunky, the lines were long and they were super wasteful. You had to wait in line to buy tickets, then wait in line again to purchase drinks with said tickets. Carly Viator, Festival International Marketing Coordinator mentions how eco-friendly the wristbands are. “The tickets had to be counted, weighed and eventually thrown away. They were really wasteful,” says Viator. Back in the day, Festival went through at least one million tickets annually. That’s a lot of trash!

Faster Lines

Now with the wristband system, you don’t have to wait in as many lines and those lines move much faster. “The transactions move more quickly, because people aren’t counting tickets. You just tap your wristband and it’s done,” says Viator.

Safer Transactions

Festival officials are touting the increased safety the RFID system brings with it. A cashless festival means less theft and less chance of losing your cash, credit cards or entire wallet.  Who wants to carry around a bag of money or wallet at festival anyway? Now that the bracelets are adjustable, they comfortably fit on your wrist with minimized risk of them getting lost or stolen. (Adjustable wristbands are a new feature this year that the organization has added due to public feedback.)

No Need to Worry About Unused Tickets

We all know the scramble: it's Sunday afternoon and you’re trying to get rid of the remaining tickets you have but nothing equals the exact amount. That’s wasted money! If you have a balance of over $5 on your account, just ask for a refund. If you have less than $5, donate it to Festival International and feel good knowing you’ve done your part to fuel the festival.

Big changes like this can be scary and sometimes difficult to adopt. The RFID wristband is just another move Festival International officials are working toward making the event a safer and easier experience for festival fans.

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▲Click the image to view the Aide Wristband details

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