App Lab kills cash at Egypt festivals

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Festivals, be they music or other, are bedevilled by two problems: ticketing fraud and cash.

Early last year the founders of a new music festival in Egypt, Oshtoora, were looking for a way to forego cash which, although faster than card payments, is still slow, cumbersome and ripe for losses.

So they went to see an old friend, App Lab founder Karim Maurice.

He had just the solution: a radio-frequency identification system, or RFID, that is familiar to festival goers in Europe but less so in

RFID bracelets and cards have been du jour at festivals
around the world for some time, but they're also starting
to take off in Egypt's hospitality scene.
(Image via Lets Talk Payments)

this part of the world. You load money onto an electronic wristband chip or a card and spend it by waving it in front of an RFID reader.

The App Lab system is called Quicklet.

“[Quicklet] increases the speed at the bar by maybe double, which means you increase sales by double. The bottleneck is not how fast people can buy, it's how fast you can sell,” he told Wamda. "As soon as we did it at Oshtoora everybody started thinking ‘that's really convenient’."

Fixing fraud

This year Tito El Kachab and Adham Taweela, organisers of the Sandbox music festival in Al Gouna asked Maurice if they could also use it to prevent fraud.

They told Wamda they’d gone cashless the year before but now wanted to scrap paper tickets and expand the RFID system to include photographic identification as well.

The Sandbox music festival used App Lab's RFID system in May, a couple of months after its debut, and was the driver behind extra fraud and indentification technology added into the software.  (Image via Sandbox)

“From that came the idea of the photo and the check in and check out,” Maurice said. “If you don't check out and you try to check in again then that means you took your wristband off and gave it to someone who had it in his pocket …[as] he couldn't check out two wristbands at the same time.”

Quicklet is now in hot demand among Egypt’s hospitality businesses. Fifteen different clients, including the two festivals use it regularly, as does the Bellevue restaurant in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. As a permanent replacement for cash, it is also used by Soul Kitesurfing in Ras Sudr along the Red Sea coast.

Big, big data

The result was not just a new money maker for the website and app maker, but a wealth of data to play with. It’s a new facet of the business that the three founders - Maurice and his brothers Nader and Shady - and six employees focused on in the last three months.

Quicklet records the high spenders, the Red Bull drinkers, the busiest time of day or night when you might want to have more or less staff, and can make suggestions to its clients on how to deal with that information.

The checkout system is operated via an iPad app. (Image via App Lab)

"We can send you suggestions based on your spending trends. If I know that you're someone that likes live bands, for example, more than DJs or the other way around... I can send you suggestions or free invites," Maurice said.

Six months ago Egypt restaurants and hospitality organizers didn’t have much need for data.

"In the last couple of months [demand has] been rising so much. I don't know whether it's because data is becoming more important or it's because they didn't even know we had that kind of data or that it was an option to use."

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