Wristbands Catching On

A startup called Pouch has extended to Asia the idea of payment wristbands, which have been used in the U.S. and Europe at festivals like Lollapalooza.

Headquartered in Singapore, the company started out as a rewards platform in 2012, according to Tech In Asia, but last year it introduced so-called near field communication wristbands that have become popular among Asian event organizers. The product mimics the wristband familiar to most festivalgoers but contains a device that can be read by smart phones with the Pouch app.

When a customer arrives at the event, it gets a Pouch wristband and “tops up the balance” by paying cash at a booth inside the venue, or by linking the wristband to his PayPal account. Any customer with the app can transfer unused funds from the wristband to a special Pouch account. Then within the venue the wristband can be used to pay for anything without having to use cash or credit cards. Pouch currently has offices in the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

It is especially popular in the Philippines where it has recorded up to $20,000 in transactions at each event it has serviced. Last year, the company sold $100,000 worth of wristbands. Pouch’s CEO told Tech In Asia he plans to “hit $500,000 to $1 million in transaction value” in the next six months. In addition, 30 percent of first-time wristband users have become members of Pouch’s app community. In the future, Pouch hopes customers can use the app to purchase tickets for events.