NFC-Enabled Fan Experiences (S2:E51)
February 16, 2023
The future of sports entertainment is data-informed. Our guest today, David Geisser, Co-founder of collectID, is redefining heightened fan experiences with NFC. collectID solves the problem of counterfeit products and creates a gateway for physical products to the metaverse by combining encrypted, smartphone-ready NFC tags with secure NFTs on blockchain.
You are listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today's most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow, bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what's new and physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity and IoT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species, and dive into the emerging digital experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture. Your host is Leigh Dow, VP of Global Marketing at Identiv.
Leigh Dow (00:43):
Thanks for listening. Today we're joined by David Geisser, co-founder of CollectID. CollectID solves the problem of counterfeited products and creates a gateway for physical products to the Metaverse and Web 3.0 by combining encrypted smartphone ready NFC tags with secure NFTs on blockchain. A few months ago, Identiv of announced a collaboration with CollectID to deliver an immersive NFC enabled fan experience for top German football club, 1. FC Köln. David, I understand you're based in Switzerland. Thank you so much for joining us today.
David Geisser (01:16):
Yeah, it's a pleasure. Thank you.
Leigh Dow (01:18):
I really love when we collaborate with companies and sports teams to create a branded fan experience. It really begins with understanding a particular team's fans and then moving forward to help implement interactivity on so many levels. Tell us more about the partnership with Identiv and how it all came about?
David Geisser (01:36):
So that all started back in 2019 when we did the very first project together with Identiv. We were looking for a partner to deliver the NFC solution that we were looking for. And since then the partnership has evolved and matured. And yeah, we have done a lot of projects together already, and you are our number one NFC supplier, which we are very happy with. And in the meantime, we even started some joint business development. So you can really say over the time this partnership, this connection grew and it's steadily growing. So it's a really nice example of two companies working together and we are really happy to have you as a partner.
Leigh Dow (02:23):
Well, I'm a big time sports fan, and so fans of FC Köln who purchased a special ticket were given a team scarf to customize their own stadium experience. Can you tell us a little bit more about the technology and the details of how fans were able to engage and what they could do and how they got even more excited about their team during this game?
David Geisser (02:44):
Yeah, of course. So let's say the technical basics, we integrated together with FC Köln and NFC tag into that scarf that was used as a ticket. And the fans can use the CollectID application on iOS and Android to tap the NFC tag inside the scarf and to unlock the digital version of the scarf. And by doing so, they also activated the ticket and/or actually they transformed the scarf into a ticket for that specific game. That was a pilot project that we did together with FC Köln. And we did it on the occasion of the innovation game against as AC Milan, which was in July last year. And all the magic on the backend was done by CollectID and the partners of FC Köln. So we made sure to create a connection between the CollectID system and the ticketing and the access gate system, which made sure that any scarf of a fan that was activated was also working to enter the stadium.
And we also had to make sure that the fans couldn't, let's say, make two tickets out of one. So for example, using the scarf to go in and giving the printed ticket to someone else. So that required a little bit of integration on our end together with the access company inside the stadium. But we managed all of that, and that's actually one of the USPs of CollectID. So a team or a brand can interact with us, can integrate this NFC tags into the products, and all the other things like building the connection to the metaverse or in this case building the connection to the stadium gates. This is done by CollectID. So it's a very easy process for the partner, in this case, for FC Köln, and obviously for their fans, they only had to activate the scarf and then walk into the stadium with their scarf.
Leigh Dow (04:51):
I think that's really interesting, all the coordination behind the scenes that it takes to implement a solution like that. It's very frictionless and easy for the brand experience for the end user, but it does require a lot of coordination behind the scenes to activate that kind of fan experience.
David Geisser (05:09):
Leigh Dow (05:10):
So for this scarf, Identiv selected NFC tags that feature the highest security level based on the NXP NTAG 424 DNAIC, which has a very unique design. Can you explain and expand upon why you picked that tag?
David Geisser (05:26):
Yeah, so actually with I would say 98%, 99% of the text that we have used so far, we were relying on the NTAG 424. The reason, as you already said, it's a very secure NFC tag, so it's dynamically encrypted, which makes it impossible to duplicate or to copy the unique identity. And this was a perfect use case where you could see how this is relevant and important, because the NFC tag, NTAG 424, it prevents anyone from copying the unique identity, which means in this case from copying the ticket. So with these kind of NFC tags and together with our secure software solution, I would say nothing is impossible, but it gets almost impossible to copy or to fake the system and to basically create tickets when you haven't bought it. And that was the major reason in this case. On top of that, the NTAG 424 is a great way to protect the authenticity of the product. So in this case, you can clearly differentiate that authentic FC Köln scarf over a cheap knockoff.
Leigh Dow (06:45):
Is the chip that you selected, is that a big part of being able to correlate the ticket to the scarf?
David Geisser (06:56):
Yes, of course. I mean, you know that ticketing also works with QR codes, for example. We have all used that. You could also use more simple NFC tags, but they always leave some room for malicious actions, for fraud, for counterfeiting. And with the secure NTAG 424, we can overcome that.
Leigh Dow (07:16):
Oh, really interesting. Were you able to get any feedback after this activation? And if so, what's the overall consensus of these types of fan experiences?
David Geisser (07:26):
So, I mean, generally we have very, very good activation rates, which has a lot to do with the way we present this experience to the fans. It's a very immersive, very simple experience. I would say everybody that knows how to handle a smartphone is able to unlock the digital twin. But specifically with this project, the numbers were overwhelming. I mean, 83% of all the scarfs have been scanned, which is a pretty high number, and 76% of all scarfs have been transformed into the ticket. That means around 760 people of that pilot project actually used their scarf as a ticket. And the last number I would love to share with you is the average time spent by fans in the CollectID app. It was five minutes and that happened during the game. So by seeing these numbers like almost 80% activation and an average time of five minutes spent within the app during a football game, this already shows and indicates how well the solution was adopted by the fans.
Additionally, together with FC Köln and actually through the CollectID channel, we asked for feedback from the fans, and this as well was very, very positive. So the fans love the solution and we are already in discussions with the club with FC Köln about further more deeper integration of the technology. And so, all in all, the case was very successful both from a quantitative side, if you look at the numbers, but then also in terms of qualitative feedback that we got onsite and later with the questionnaire. So we are really happy, FC Köln is really happy, and the fans have been happy as well.
Leigh Dow (09:22):
I mentioned earlier that I'm a big sports fan and as a marketer, really our industry, it's easy to maybe not take risks from a marketing standpoint or not be super out there from a creative standpoint. I always take a lot of in inspiration from sports and entertainment. They're always at the cutting edge of fan or brand experiences. They're very innovative in sports and entertainment on how they get messaging out there or how they interact with their fan base. And the future of sports entertainment is definitely very data informed. How is that redefining the heightened fan experience?
David Geisser (10:06):
I think you really hit a nail here. That's a really, really important point. And I would even go back one step further. If you have seen that deal last year of Spotify sponsoring not just the Jersey but also the stadium of FC Barcelona, that was one of the biggest deals in sports in the last year. And it was pretty interesting, because Barcelona claimed that they have 300 or 400 million fans across all their channels across the globe. But a detailed analysis of Spotify showed that they actually have around 3 million email addresses. So that means they only have a connection, a direct connection to around 3 to 4 million of their fans, which is roughly 1%. And that shows the enormous potential that these sports organizations, these teams, these clubs have. Imagine if they just know 10% of their fan base, we would look at the 30 million people where they have a direct connection.
And this is exactly where CollectID comes into play. By integrating our technology into the physical merchandise products of these sport teams, there is a way to connect and establish a relation with the buyers of these merchandise products. And already 10% or 5% of fans interacting through the channel with the club is a very, very big win. And it allows the clubs to access a huge revenue that they are not accessing right now. And again, speaking about 5% to 10%, maybe 15% of fans using it, it shows what is possible if even 70% to 80%, like in the Köln case, actually scan and unlock their digital twin through the CollectID technology. So in other words, with the CollectID technology, we build the bridge between the fan and the sports team, and leveraging this direct relation or that data that gets generated is a very powerful tool for the teams to unlock more revenues and to get the fans a really immersive and nice fan experience.
Leigh Dow (12:29):
I think that's so important, is we talk a lot about the fan experience, but there's that massive business case behind it that's data driven. And the products that you can make are the revenue streams that you can make with data. And a lot of sports teams around the world, some of them, the league owns most of the media properties and in other leagues, the teams own their own media properties and can create their own revenue generating streams based on the data that they have available to them. So I think that laying out that business case is really interesting, because it's the flip side of what most people see if they're not working with a team or with a brand that has that big fan base.
David Geisser (13:12):
Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. This is the fuel for these organizations for the future.
Leigh Dow (13:18):
The other thing that I think is really interesting about what you're doing is how it's not static. So you can create a fan experience that can change in perpetuity. So you could capture that fan and deliver that initial fan experience, but you can keep them coming back if you're creating new experiences on the same activation.
David Geisser (13:39):
A hundred percent. And obviously doing multiple activation with a single product, it also reduces the cost per activation. Or for example, the hardware cost can be leveraged across multiple activations. So, to quote one of our customers of one of the biggest football teams in Brazil. They called this project, this product that we developed together with them, and where I integrated the CollectID tech inside, they called this a living jersey, much more than a smart jersey.
Leigh Dow (13:39):
Oh, I love that
David Geisser (14:15):
Because, the jersey, it can be different tomorrow than it is today, but also your jersey can be different than my Jersey, because eventually I have visited all the games with my jersey while you only visited a few. So the different activations over time allow us to change the content, and by that change the product itself. And this is very interesting. So to have this dynamic activation on a static physical product.
Leigh Dow (14:45):
I love that and I love the personalization aspect of it that you can deliver. So can you give us some other use cases for this technology and creating next level brand immersive experiences? Because the possibilities really do seem endless, which is super exciting.
David Geisser (15:00):
A hundred percent. I mean this is for us, it's super cool that we can activate so in so many different ways, it's sometimes also a challenge to get the focus on the right spot. But to give you two other examples. One is that we did with Nashville Predators, it's a US NHL team, and we did already two jerseys with them. I mean two jersey releases. And one was a jersey about their legendary goalkeeper, Pekka Rinne. I think he was like a NHL Hall of Famer.
Leigh Dow (15:36):
Yeah, Pekka's amazing.
David Geisser (15:36):
Yeah, he was amazing. He played for the club for around 15 years. And when they did the retirement ceremony because they retired his number, number 35, they created that special jersey and equipped it with the CollectID technology, and we used it to create an outstanding fan experience. So by scanning it, you got access to never before seen footage of his career, like some micd up videos, some videos from practice, but it was just the beginning. Then in the following weeks and months, the Predators used that channel to upsell their sponsorship assets. So for example, if you scan it inside the arena, there is certain activations that you can profit from, and the same goes if you scan it at home. So there is on the one end side benefits for the fence that bought this special jersey. But then on the other side there is also endless possibilities for their sponsors to activate with fans to actually get access to leads or to actual deals beyond brand awareness and reach.
And that was one example. So the sponsorship activations and all the possibilities around that. And then another example that we are doing with this Brazilian football team I mentioned earlier, is the possibility to check in with your jersey during a game. Or in other words, you can tap the product with your smartphone during a specific time period. And by doing so you can unlock additional benefits, additional content. And that's pretty awesome because again, this gives a possibility for the fans to personalize their jersey, and it gives a possibility as well to drive activation. So to get users on a weekly, on a daily, on a monthly basis back to your app, and to interact with the digital ecosystem of the club, but also with the physical product. For example, the jersey in this case. And these are two examples, but I can only encourage everybody to also check out our case studies that we have done.
We have some of them on our website, and as you already said correctly, the opportunities seem to be endless. And this was just let's say the tip of the iceberg, but there is much more that we can do when it comes to metaverse and web trio activations. So for example, you are able to wear these jerseys also in the metaverse with your avatars, which can open up a bunch of other very exciting opportunities that go far beyond what we are currently doing with the jerseys or the maturity of the teams are doing with their jerseys.
Leigh Dow (18:24):
I love that. I will definitely need to have you back on to talk about NFTs.
David Geisser (18:29):
Absolutely. I would love to join that podcast as well.
Leigh Dow (18:33):
So are there any future plans that you can share, that plans together that you can share with us today?
David Geisser (18:40):
Yes, so there is actually two very exciting things cooking up. Just this week we had to go live with one of the best Formula One teams. So we did a poster together with them and the fans can access the digital version of the poster and the NFT. So yeah, this was a really exciting project that just went live this week. And I don't know, maybe you can even get one of the posters if you hurry. And then I'm not allowed to share that brand. But in the next few weeks we will do a very big drop with one of the largest fashion brands here in Europe. And it will all be about using this item, this physical item also in the metaverse. So you as a buyer will be able to wear that product, but if you unlock the digital twin through the CollectID system, you will also be able to dress your avatar with the same product.
Leigh Dow (19:43):
David Geisser (19:43):
And that's really exciting. So we are going to merge this physical and digital world and create an outstanding experience for the buyers of this product. So we are really exciting to release that. And, of course, doing that together with the world-leading fashion brand. I guess we'll also put this on top of the agenda for a lot of other brands.
Leigh Dow (20:04):
It's funny that you bring that one up because I was just talking to somebody the other day about I'd just gone through and purged two thirds of my closet because I was like, unless I'm traveling for work, I don't really need all these clothes anymore like I did before Covid. So now I'm like, of course I kept the things that are really nice and perhaps more expensive. But I don't really even get the opportunity to wear them very much, but I could wear them in the metaverse every day.
David Geisser (20:31):
A 100%. And you also hit another point, by equipping these products with the technology and to provide them with the digital twin, it's also getting super easy, very secure and super convenient to resell these items. Because you can prove authenticity at any point. And since they are already digitalized, you can sell them or resell them with just one click. So this is another nice benefit for the consumers when these products have a digital twin connected.
Leigh Dow (21:09):
It's like the real, real, but in the metaverse.
David Geisser (21:13):
Yes. And by technology, not by humans authenticating. It's always authenticated by the brand itself. And that's, I would say the, highest standard that you can achieve. If Gucci tells you it's authentic, well, I guess it's authentic, right? So that's a much stronger level of authenticity, a higher level of authenticity compared to an expert telling you. And an expert, a human being can always be wrong. Right? The technology cannot.
Leigh Dow (21:43):
Very interesting. Well, you have a really cool job, David.
David Geisser (21:46):
Thank you. It's a lot of fun. That's true.
Leigh Dow (21:49):
Is there anything else you want to share with us today?
David Geisser (21:53):
Yeah, so as you mentioned it already, we have a lot of fun. It's a very cool team and we have expanded to the US, so we have opened a CollectID US branch. We have already three team members in New York and in Florida. So if some of your listeners are looking for an exciting opportunity in the sports fashion tech, yeah, please let us know. We always have interesting open positions and we are really looking for more talents to join the team. So yeah, just hit us up, hit our US team or the European team up and let us know if you're looking for an exciting new opportunity.
Leigh Dow (22:29):
Oh, that's awesome. Thank you for sharing that with us. And thank you for joining this episode of Humans and Tech Podcast. David, we really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to share all this fun stuff with us.
David Geisser (22:39):
Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to join.
Leigh Dow (22:41):
And if you enjoyed this podcast, please like and subscribe. We drop new episodes every week.
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