World Premiere: Stadium’s ‘Open’ Cashless Payment System Is A Success
wee links shopping at local retailers and e-commerce with mobile payment in the weeArena Bad Tölz.
A seven-figure investment in the global pilot region and lots of hard work have more than paid off for the Swiss m-commerce specialists. Since the Tölzer Löwen ice hockey team began their season in the DEL2 league, the weeArena has been digitalised: A new era for mobile payment, which will change the world’s shopping and consumer behaviour, as well as improving people’s quality of life. Various European regions were evaluated before Bad Tölz was awarded this long-term investment guarantee. The pilot passed the stress tests with flying colours – and the entire Bavarian Oberland region on the German/Austrian border benefits. And in the medium to long term, at least another 25 regions around arenas will benefit. The arenas will undergo technological conversion according to this blueprint and will be linked to local retailers and the world of online shopping.
Cengiz Ehliz (48), visionary and founder of wee: “We were faced with a really hard task,” enthuses the m-commerce multi-entrepreneur, “because my home region struggles with innovation.” Barely any fans were interested in the fact that weeMarketplace AG wanted to realise its pilot project in the Isarwinkel region. Only when the company’s lead sponsorship smoothed the way for the team’s ascension to the DEL2 and the naming rights for the ice stadium, which became the weeArena, were all wrapped up, did any interest begin to develop. As well as the six-figure lead sponsorship, the previous nine months alone have seen an additional boost of nearly €1.5m to the local economy resulting from events promoted by wee.
Investment bears fruit
As majority shareholder of the listed Swiss Fintec Invest AG, the Bad Tölz-born ice hockey fan often visits personally to see for himself how the project in the ice stadium is progressing. “When it comes to realising my vision, I think in decades,” emphasises Ehliz, “but to achieve it you need concepts and an interdisciplinary team so that it can be implemented in stages. And this includes having clear milestones – because without verifiable proof of concept, any investment would fizzle out and the worldwide expansion of the product would be at risk.”
The Swiss company is snowed under with enquiries. “From what I hear,” continues Ehliz, “is there hardly seems any league in the world that doesn’t have us on their radar. weeMarketplace AG has received around 100 enquiries from clubs and stadium operators. But we are a serious operation, have obligations to our shareholders and won’t get ahead of ourselves when it comes to expansion.”
National and international duplication of the stadium’s ‘open’ mobile payment system
But that could change quickly, says Ehliz: “First of all we need to verify that mobile payment in the weeArena is running smoothly. At the same time, we are working on getting retailers in the area of league competitors Deggendorf on board and to convert the ice stadium to cashless ready for the next season. It’s also no secret that we are involved in international talks. To this end, our specialists are working on a type of franchise model that will guarantee duplication of the system.”
There’s even interest from China: In 2022, Beijing will host the Winter Olympics. With the construction of 35 new ice stadiums across the country, the organisers aim to popularise the globally loved sport of ice hockey. And if not in China, where else would an ‘open’ stadium payment system such as that offered by wee best fit? In China, mobile payment not only means making payments by smartphone. Today, 350 million Chinese are already using online payment providers to pay their rent, receive their salaries and to borrow and invest money.
The planned integration of the wee cashback system to the global opportunities offered by blockchain technology can only mean a quantum leap in innovation for wee. This forms a decisive step towards the realisation of Ehliz’s vision. “Being able to shop online or offline, all over the world, with just one card or app, and at the same time to save money with every purchase, while also being able to help disadvantaged children worldwide via our weeCharity.”
weeArena Bad Tölz up and running after trouble-free stress tests
On 14 September, the world’s first ‘open’ stadium payment system successfully celebrated a premiere with an innovation for the fans: Around 800 season ticket holders thronged into the stadium with their wee ArenaCards, and nearly 1,000 people who bought day tickets received not only their match tickets but also free of charge a special matchday-themed, wee ArenaCard… Just like in other stadiums, the weeArena features access points where you can top up and withdraw money. These will initially be supervised by personnel to help with people’s questions. Visitors can still pay with cash up until the middle of October.
‘Wiggerl’ Donbeck (46), managing director of Tölzer Löwen Eisssport GmbH, is proud: “The entire league is envious of our lead sponsor wee. Of course, a healthy budget is a prerequisite for success, but at the same time I am delighted about wee’s support for the up-and-coming generation and the nationwide attention that the weeArena is receiving.”
In contrast to all other systems, the wee ArenaCard will soon be universally available. The current project stage already guarantees that the cashback received when buying food and drink in the weeArena can be used when shopping at local retailers or for making further purchases in the ice stadium. Alternatively, the wee collected can be paid to people’s own bank accounts in their local currency. In future, it is planned that the weeCard can also be used as an ice hockey season ticket, as an ArenaCard, if you already have a weeCard or the weeApp. But before that the intention is to enable multiple weeCards to be managed through just one weeAccount.
If we assume around 30 official matches for the Tölzer Löwen this season, then with entrance and food and drink sales that is around 150,000 transactions. This represents a sales volume of around €2m. By the end of the year the merchant pool will have been expanded to 80 retailers.
Furthermore, the intention is also to exploit the evaluated potential of 150 retailers for the region.
The weeArena’s technology will soon be used in the Deggendorf ice stadium in Lower Bavaria
By the start of the 2019/20 season at the latest, the Deggendorf ice stadium will be converted to cashless. The starting point for the partnership was when Artur Frank (45), a successful businessman, managing director of the DSC ice hockey team and chairman of the overall club, enquired of regional financial institutions where there was a plastic card that could be used not just in the ice stadium but also for shopping at local retailers. The lack of positive responses led the DEL2 newcomer to the problem solvers wee. “Our sponsorship,” explains the experienced decision-maker, “represents a six-figure-euro contribution, spread across three years. Our club and our ice stadium are implementing wee’s clubs and associations concept. As well as classic sponsorship activities, our partner is supporting us with youth development and in the digitalisation of our stadium on the same lines as the one in Tölz.”
wee also on the DEL’s radar for their innovation and growth potential
The DEL2 league is extremely impressed too by wee’s involvement, because the two sponsorships provide the clubs with not only budget certainty but also a better quality pro squad, along with promotion of the next generation. René Rudorisch (40), DEL2 managing director said: “With its digitalisation of the arenas in Bad Tölz and Deggendorf, weeMarketplace AG has made excellent progress, and its involvement in the two regions demonstrates its passion for, and interest in, German ice hockey. Because the wee concept is a way to more closely bind clubs with local sponsors from the retail world, I can well imagine that when this model has been successfully implemented, it will offer added value to other locations too.”
Media spokesman/Public relations
c/o CP/CONSULT Consulting Services GmbH
Tel: +49 (0)201/890699-15; mobile: +49 (0)177/8095117
Information about wee: https://wee.com/en
About the weeArena project: https://www.weearena.com
About visionary and wee founder Cengiz Ehliz: http://cengizehliz.com