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Expert Q&A: Louis Lombardi on Transforming Sports Fan Experiences with Digital Wallet Tech

Serial entrepreneur Louis Lombardi, CEO of The Wallet Group, discusses how digital wallets and digital cards are making the sports fan experience more engaging

A data lover at his core, Louis Lombardi is a serial entrepreneur spearheading the charge to transform the digital wallet experience for brands and consumers. With an extensive tech background, Louis founded The Wallet Group, which provides the technology for brands to create and share digital cards that are stored in users’ digital smartphone wallets. The cards are used for real-time information sharing and engagement and offer a more intimate and less intrusive way to connect with consumers. 

In a recent discussion, Louis shared how The Wallet Group is transforming the fan experience for some sports teams and venues and the positive results reported by both brands and their customers. 

Q: What exactly are digital wallets and digital cards?

A: A digital wallet, like Apple Wallet or Google Wallet, is an app that securely stores your debit and credit cards, transit and event passes, driver’s license or ID, and other card-type data. It holds digital versions of cards and tickets in the cloud, including details like loyalty points, coffee card balances, coupon expiry dates, or flight boarding information, all issued by the respective companies and brands.

Q: Okay. So what intrigues you about digital cards and digital wallet technology? 

A: So, think about your smartphone’s digital wallet for a second. What’s in the wallet? Do you use your wallet or digital cards often? Do you think it’s a convenient way to store information and get updates in real-time? For the most part, we learned that consumers understand how to use their digital wallets but don’t use them to their full potential. 

We realized that both brands and consumers greatly underutilize digital wallet technology, which has much more potential and proven use cases. Right now, almost anyone with a smartphone has a digital wallet preloaded onto the device, but they may only use it occasionally—if at all—for specific instances. 

For example, a user may download an event ticket, scan it at entry, and forget about it because the card is no longer functional after being redeemed. With all of this technology already available and in the palm of your customers’ hands, why not use it to its fullest potential?

We have been in this space, diving into technology and customer experience for quite a while. Based on what we know and as we continue our focus on innovation, we are transforming how digital cards are used and enhancing digital wallet technology to revolutionize fan experiences.

Q: How are digital cards used in sports and entertainment? 

A: Digital cards enable brands to share real-time information, support customer loyalty programs, and enhance and improve the overall customer experience. Sports teams use the cards to interact with and engage fans before, during, and after games. They are leveraging the technology to bring fans deeper into the experience of attending or watching a game and providing essential information that can be helpful throughout the experience. From the business side, card technology can provide valuable data and insights to activate ongoing customer-focused improvements and ways to optimize fan-focused programs.

Q: Can you provide an example of a brand, team, or venue using digital cards and how it helped their business? 

A: Absolutely. One great example is the New York Riptide, a Long Island-based box lacrosse team. The team struggled to reach its targeted demographic in the crowded NYC marketplace. We were connected and discussed how the team could use digital cards to solve this problem. The team wanted to give The Wallet Group a try, so we created digital cards that fans could easily download and add to their smartphone wallets. For the Riptide, adding digital cards as a way to communicate with fans enabled them to reach their fans in a much more personal and streamlined way.

Another client is the Oak View Group. The Oak View Group is the world’s leading developer of cutting-edge sports and live entertainment venues. The group is well-known for its focus on stadium and fan tech innovation. They are currently rolling out digital cards to a handful of their venues in the Northeast, so we will have some results from their experience in the near future. 


Q: What is the future of digital wallet technology and digital cards? 


A: If I look into my crystal ball, I predict that digital wallet technology will continue to improve as brands and customers see the value – especially if we have anything to do with it. In fact, The Wallet Group’s mission statement is to “democratize the mobile wallet space giving brands of all sizes the ability to reach and engage their customers and followers in the moments that matter. Digital wallets will become more important than ever in engaging with customers as they continue to be inundated with messages in crowded spaces like social media and even their text messages. As loyalty programs continue bolstering business and driving retention, digital cards will become a more natural integration for every brand and program, and consumers will become native users as they realize the value and convenience of the technology.

Louis Lombardi is the CEO and founder of The Wallet Group, a Philadelphia-based technology company that is leading the charge in digital wallet transformation.

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