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The rise of touchless technology and its applications

In a world where social distancing is the new normal, touchless technologies begin to gain more and more interest. Before the global pandemic, people didn’t think twice before touching door handles, elevator buttons, or check-in kiosks. But as we speak, high touch surfaces are a hot topic as worries over health and safety are on the rise. As a result, fintech innovators and not only, are looking for ground-breaking alternatives to keep us all safe.

‘Work from home’ is certainly not a permanent alternative, since many businesses require employees to be physically present to get the job done. As you probably heard this before, Coronavirus is not likely to go away anytime soon, so touchless technologies seem like a great opportunity to get things back to normal. In response, some companies started to implement a touchless check-in process for visitors or even Bluetooth access control for employees.

It seems like it’s the perfect time to go touchless. Even if this need is forced by uncontrollable factors, such as a global pandemic, we should look on the bright side of it and become aware that going touchless is in our own good. So, let’s go over some examples of touchless technologies and find out more about it in general.

What are we trying to say by ‘going touchless’?

Well, despite how relevant this topic is as we speak, businesses going touchless is not new. In fact, touchless technology has been around since the late 1980s when motion-sensing faucets and soap dispensers were common within public restrooms. Today, we experience touchless technology several times a day. Just think of how many times you walk through an automated door or think of those moments when you ask Siri to turn on the timer for you.

As you can see, touchless technology is not limited to hygiene and safety. Societies look up to it and treat it as a forward-thinking and modern alternative to complete daily tasks. With that being said, we can define touchless technology as anything that can function without the need to physically touch a device.

Example of touchless technologies

  • Gesture recognition

This is among the most common types of touchless technology. The way we interact with devices is simply replaced by gestures. For instance, waving your hand to activate an automated door replaces the need to physically touch its knob or button.

  • Touchless sensing

Similar to gesture recognition, touchless sensing can detect the movement of an individual under a sensor. In our day to day lives, we come across this no-touch technology several times per day. Think of the last time that you went to a gas station, grocery store, or lodging facility. Most likely, there was no one to open the door for you and you didn’t have to do it yourself either. Thanks to touchless sensing, such actions are simplified and become part of our daily routine.

  • Voice recognition

This form of touchless technology enables users to control a device by speaking to it. Android and Apple devices can be controlled by simply stating some keywords, such as ‘Hey Siri’, replacing the need to touch that device at all. Setting up reminders, timers or other tasks is as quick and simple as ever.

  • Facial recognition

Not long ago, facial recognition seemed to be far from reality. Now, this touchless technology is available for millions of people, most often utilized to unlock smartphones. However, as more people gained interest in its capabilities, innovators found great use cases and environments where it can be applied. The KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started a test involving ‘biometric boarding’, allowing passengers to board the aircraft without showing their ID’s anymore, recognizing passengers by their faces.

  • Personal devices

Apple Pay has proved that traditional credit cards can be left behind and that payments can be completed from our own devices. Compared to contactless payments, where users must touch the POS with a card to complete a transaction, personal devices provide a ‘cleaner’ alternative where that ‘touch’ is not necessary to successfully complete a transaction. Modern personal devices can store your credit/debit cards virtually. For safety reasons, upon completing a purchase, users can authenticate by using their own faces or by inputting a personal identification number.

Oveit as a touchless payment solution

At Oveit, we strongly believe in the power of touchless technologies, especially during the current situation, that of a global pandemic. Until now, our Economy as a Service solution was partially touchless since economy members were required to visit an on-site top-up point to add money onto their digital wallets.

To tackle this challenge and identify ourselves as a complete touchless solution, we started to think the extra mile and concluded that an end-user App is what we need. The purpose of this App is to enhance the experience of our end-users, enabling them to top-up money in a defined economy, from the comfort of their own houses or wherever an internet connection is available.

For economy owners, this alternative should reduce costs, with fewer staff members required. Economy members simply become their own cashiers and upon arrival, their digital wallets should be ready to go. Also, if activated, the auto top-up feature allows users to set a warning limit. As soon as that warning limit is reached, the digital wallet automatically adds up the pre-defined amount from the linked credit/debit card.

How to make event venues safe with Cashless Payments?

There is no doubt that the world of events and hospitality has been seriously hit by COVID-19 and the imposed lockdowns. Major festivals around the globe got postponed or canceled. Across Europe and not only, governments begin to realize that imposed restrictions are indeed an efficient way to limit the spread of the virus, but they also realize that such restrictions can only harm economies in the long term. So, should event organizers implement cashless payments as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of the virus?

As economies get back and running after weeks of lockdown, many of us face unprecedented situations in terms of conducting business and daily activities. Even before this pandemic, it was obvious that the use of cashless payments solutions around the world is on the rise. But guess what? In a post-COVID-19 world, cashless payments might be more important than ever.

It is predicted that a new type of customer will emerge from this pandemic. We already saw an increase in demand for cashless payments solutions over the last years, but the differentiator lies in how providers deliver those expectations and how it separates them from other competitors.

Facts about COVID-19 and Cash handling

Government officials have strongly advised us to avoid cash handling during the coronavirus outbreak. It is well-known that cash is notoriously covered in germs, but what is the reality when it comes to COVID-19 and cash? According to many experts, the chances of being infected after handling cash is still low compared to other ways of spreading the infection. According to a recent post published by Reuters, the U.S. Federal Reserve started quarantining physical dollars coming from Asia, before allowing it to recirculate in the U.S. market. It was treated as a precautionary measure against spreading the virus among U.S. citizens. Although there is no hard evidence saying that handling cash increases the risk of infection, many retailers decided to advise their clients to use cashless alternatives.

At Oveit, we’ve decided to upgrade our closed-loop payment solution and add two additional features, very relevant in the given context. These two are related to real-time footfall tracking capabilities and an App which enables attendees to act as their own cashiers.

End user App (Wallet) for Cashless Payments

Without an end-user App, attendees would still have to visit a physical top-up point to add money to their digital wallets. After many years of experience and feedback coming from our partners, we concluded that building an end-user App (wallet) can bring more value in return, for both event organizers and participants. The purpose of this App is to create a seamless top up process for the end-user (attendees), allowing them to use their own smartphones for comfort and security purposes.

For the event organizer, this alternative decreases the number of cashiers required on-site and therefore reduces the event costs. Attendees are empowered to act as their own cashiers with the entire process being automated. Moreover, by activating the ‘Auto top-up’ feature, participants can assure that their digital balance will never fall under a pre-defined amount.

Also, the withdrawal process is simplified. Traditionally, the process required attendees to visit physical top-up points and receive cash in exchange. The top-up was done by either card or cash payment, but the only option to withdraw the remaining amount was by receiving cash back. The end-user App (wallet) removes this step and enables participants to withdraw the remaining balance on their own or even use it at another event. 

Footfall Tracking

Recently, we’ve received a request from one of our clients. He wanted to know if it’s possible to track in real time the number of attendees in specific areas of the venue. 

With the current social distancing rules in place, we believe that being able to track footfall in real-time can contribute to a safe and responsible event. This way, you can benefit from a modern alternative to control the number of attendees inside a venue. How does it work?

1.       Attendees arrive at the event with their electronic tickets ready to be scanned

2.       A designated staff member hands in NFC wristbands/cards/badges for every participant

3.       By using the Oveit Pay App on an Android device, a staff member simply scans the QR code on the ticket and pairs it with a wristband/card/badge

4.       Before passing the entry point, participants are required to tap their NFC tags on an NFC enabled reader

5.       The same process applies for check out. Participants tap their NFC tags on NFC enabled readers placed at all exit points

Final Thoughts

Among event professionals, we’ve seen continuous debates on whether the event industry will change in the future and how it will change. As retailers get back and running, B2C and B2B interactions look different, with several precautionary measures in place. It’s the aftermath of a global pandemic and it’s our responsibility to act accordingly.

As we are eager to see events coming back to normal, we strongly believe that Oveit can contribute to a safe and responsible way of hosting large gatherings. Of course, other parties must get involved to achieve that, but in terms of safe payment practices and access control, we got you covered!