Aston Villa and Harlequins are set to launch multi-functional membership cards during the forthcoming season in the initial roll-out of a partnership between Barclays and Fortress, the global loyalty and payment engagement technology provider.
The deal will see Barclays embed payment capabilities into a team-branded membership card through an account underpinned by its mobile payments platform, Pingit.
Fans of Premier League club Aston Villa and Gallagher Premiership rugby team Harlequins will be able to spend on their cards both within their home grounds and anywhere card payments are accepted during 2019-20.
The payment functionality will be combined with digital ticketing and loyalty on one platform. Fortress and Barclays said this will help teams improve their decision-making as they seek to deliver the best in services, experiences and incentives for their supporters.
“We’re excited to partner with Fortress to create an all-in-one membership card that will help the sports industry take fan engagement to the next level,” said Adam Herson, business development director at Barclays.
“We believe this will be a win-win for both teams and supporters, building a stronger connection between the two through an improved customer experience. By working together with two prestigious sports teams, Aston Villa and Harlequins, we will be well positioned to start a sporting revolution.”
Fortress has clients in sports leagues around the world, including the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) in the US and 16 of the 20 teams in the English Premier League.
Richard Pinnick, SVP global business development at Fortress, said: “For sports brands loyalty and fan engagement really matters – it is how they add life-long value to their supporter base.
“By integrating stadium services and everyday payments onto a single membership card, managed by our open loyalty platform, we can now deliver in-stadium services, experiences, and content that are hyper-relevant and crafted to build long-lasting value for the supporter and team.”
As well as making transactions simpler, Fortess and Barclays said teams will gain an additional source of revenue through promoting affiliate brands to their fans.
Each time supporters spend with an affiliate brand, they will accrue points that can be redeemed for exclusive rewards or money-can’t-buy experiences with their team – such as meet and greets with their favourite players, attendance at pre-match briefings and match seats in the press box.
Nicola Ibbetson, chief commercial officer at Aston Villa, said: “The new membership card will be of great benefit to both our supporters and the team itself.
“It will enable us to better understand our fans whilst also being able to offer them tailored products, discounts and money-can’t-buy experiences.”