MasterCard's DataCash, Sports Fusion Team Up for Sports Payments

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Sports Fusion and MasterCard processing subsidiary DataCash are working to unify the normally siloed purchasing experiences at sporting events.

"Ticketing and hospitality are separate systems rather than uniform," says Chris Thomas, a director at Sports Fusion, which counts European football clubs such as Liverpool FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Chelsea FC among its clients. "But that division is starting to blur."

DataCash has integrated its platform into Sports Fusion's management systems to enable a consistent and low-navigation payments experience for sporting events, supporting payments online and at the stadium before, during and after a game.

"This enhances a consumer's ability to be a broad customer of a particular venue or a football or horseracing club," says Ken Ritchie, a channel manager at DataCash.

DataCash's platform allows consumers to use a single account for in-app payments tied to a team's brand, ranging from tickets to food to team-affiliated products and services that are not part of an actual game.

For Sports Fusion, the integration is an opportunity to upsell and market directly to consumers, rather than wait for them to visit a concession stand or gift shop, Thomas says.

"What that serves is what I call 'continuous sell' where the spectator arrives at the venue and proceeds to his or her seat, shopping and buying things along the way" Thomas says. "We need to have the ability to receives funds form them continuously."

Sports Fusion offers marketing and other services that help teams extend their brands. It specializes in international soccer, but also serves other sports such as hockey, golf and tennis.

"Our service has increasingly included migrating sports clubs from plastic to mobile, and we need a payment partner to provide a reliable way to process payments," Thomas says.

Sports Fusion is trying to sell sports organizations on the potential income streams that exist outside of an actual sporting event. That can include hospitality, restaurant bookings, stadium tours, parking, sports schools and non-sporting events at a stadium or arena.

"Stadium tours are a classic but misunderstood way to make revenue for a venue, and branded soccer schools also do well," Thomas says. "The important thing is to have a digital means that makes it easy for people to buy these things in proximity to where they buy tickets and other items … The soccer schools that European clubs run are particularly popular in North America."

Sports Fusion is headquartered in Hong Kong, but operates globally. DataCash will also be able to help with cross-border payments and currency exchange, Thomas says.

MasterCard has made other forays into sports payments over the past year. Legends Hospitality, a stadium and arena concession company owned by the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, has adopted MasterCard's QkR mobile technology to enable fans to order and pay for food from their seats.

The card network has also developed mobile technology that allows fans at sporting events to use a QR code to pre-order and pay for items that are then shipped to the shopper's home.

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