Festival organisers not allowed to make profit from own payment systems

According to new guidelines agreed between the industry and the government, music festivals will be obliged to clearly post prices of drinks and food in euros next summer, even if they operate their own payment system. In addition, while organisers will still be allowed to charge for their own payment system, they will no longer be allowed to make a profit from it. 

Several Belgian festivals use their own payment system. Tomorrowland, for example, has been using Pearls for years, whereas Skullies are the currency at Graspop Metal Meeting. These are cashless payment systems using, for example, a wristband with a QR code, and are intended to ensure easy and quick payments at the site.

According to the Belgian government, however, these methods are not very transparent for users, who often don't know exactly how much they are paying. The government has worked with the industry to develop a new set of guidelines.

Now, even if festivals use their own currency, they will have to post prices in euros so the cost is clear to customers. In addition, certain unfair commercial practices will be addressed. Among other things, administration fees to recharge cashless or get a refund must be reasonable and market-based and must not generate a profit.

The new rules come after controversy last summer. The Economic Inspectorate launched an investigation after it emerged that Rock Werchter and other festivals charged visitors administration fees to get their remaining "coins" back. Under the new rules, they will be allowed to do this, although they are advised not to, but they will not be allowed to make a profit on it. Festivals that fail to comply with the new guidelines risk being fined.


The cashless payment system with a wristband at Rock Werchter music festival © BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR

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