UK festivals prepare for microchipped ID wristbands

In a bid to wipe out ticket fraud and touting across the festival industry, a major event in Europe has seen new microchipped wristbands put to use ahead of the summer festival season, BBC Newsbeat has reported.

Designers of the wristbands claim that they are intended to put an end to ticket touring and fraud, while they can also be loaded with money in order to purchase goods on the site.

However, despite Michael Eavis’ claim that he may adopt the technology at Glastonbury, critics believe the wristbands to be an invasion of privacy and may make festivals feel “too commercial.”

Intellitix, the company behind the wristbands, has confirmed that the technology will be used for general admission at “a couple” of UK festivals this year. Details are expected to be announced before the end of January.

Utilising a similar technology to that used in London’s Oyster swipe cards, the wristband looks like a regular festival wristband with a fitted microchip. Festival-goers will be registered in and out at turnstiles or handheld machines, which will allow organisers to monitor and track their data. Commenting on the technology, Eavis commented: "it does look as though it’s something better than what we’re doing at the moment," and that he "might be tempted" to use it.

While Eavis was quick to point out the potential benefits of such technology, he also noted the potential negative effects of employing this kind of system, suggesting that festivals may become “too commercial.”

He said: “All the commercial implications of the chip are slightly worrying aren’t they? I don’t want to take people into a land they don’t want to go into. And using information about people, I wouldn’t be happy about that.”

Greg Parmley, chief information officer for Intellitix, denied the tracking technology is invasive, saying that festival-goers can choose to be anonymous. He also added that the wristbands will not result in an increase in ticket sales, commenting: “The last thing this will do is raise ticket prices.” He added that the microchips are “really cheap” and cost “pennies” to make.

Over 3,000 fans and industry representatives were given the opportunity to use the technology as more than 200 bands performed across 20 different venues at Eurosonic. Ramon Von Geytenbeek, from Amsterdam, said: "The chip itself is quite annoying. You feel it brushing up against your wrist. I do understand that they want to know where people are going and what they’re doing but I don’t really want them tracking me. I want to go where I want without people checking."

Gasper Smidt from The Hague commented: "I think it’s really innovative. Everything is going really smoothly. It’s a safe way to check if everyone is in or out."