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Tuesday, October 02, 2012 Written by Kathleen Bell

In just two short blocks George Street in St. John's, NL holds 25 bars, pubs and restaurants. There are no retail stores, no coffee shops, no bakeries and no offices—it is, as advertised, exclusively an 'entertainment district'. And this summer, YEG Live's national brand, was called upon to provide e-ticketing services for George Street's three biggest parties of a year: Canada's Big Birthday Bash, the George Street Festival and the upcoming Halloween Mardi Gras.

img 2065-1On a street wholly dedicated to partying on, that's big deal.

With two of the three celebrations happening over the summer months, YEG Live is now well acquainted with one of St. John's most renowned streets. Using organizers were able to usher in close to 9,000 revellers on a single Saturday night in July during the George Street Festival.

"The shared capacity of the bars and restaurants is roughly 4,500," says Cameron, explaining how 25 drinking establishments manage to share only two blocks. "The stipulation is that they have to have their door on George Street. So there's some that are actually on the street over, because that's where most of the business is located. Then, over the years, they've developed their back door and made a side walk to George Street and now have a George Street address."

For Canada's Big Birthday Bash and the George Street Festival, the road is enclosed to add another 4,500 to the overall capacity.

img 2052-1

With bands like Third Eye Blind, The Sheepdogs, the Jim Cuddy Band and, the legendary Kenny Rogers waiting to play in the centre of this massive block party, YEG Live's biggest triumph came from reducing wait times thanks to some inspired gate logistics and conquering some tricky wifi issues.

"I asked a guy standing in line on Saturday night how long he had been waiting in line.'" says Cameron "He says, 'I don't know... five or ten minutes.' And that's great—that means he's already paid for his ticket, he's already had his ID checked and next he'd have his ticket scanned and get a wristband. But in previous years the line had wrapped around the block and up the next street. People would wait for an hour."

Getting wait times down to a cool 10 minutes means YEG Live successfully increased the total celebration time of every single ticketholder – that's a lot of extra merrymaking on a street already built to party all night long.

Monday, September 17, 2012 Written by Kathleen Bell

Warning: this entry gets a little technical. But you'll want to follow this one through because YEG Live could change how you pay for things... forever.

YEG Live recently submitted an application to the MintChip Challenge; a competition organized by the Royal Canadian Mint to encourage the development of "digital payment technology." The Mint describes it as the "evolution of currency" and it could mean not only paying for things using your smart phone, but also cutting intermediaries like Visa, MasterCard and INTERAC out of the everyday exchange of currency.

So instead of me telling my bank to pay a business with my money so I can purchase a new widget, I can pay for it directly using MintChip. Consider it a form of digital cash.

I'm sure you're thinking, 'my credit and debit cards work just fine. Why is the Mint pushing for this technology!?' As Cameron explains it, there are two major reasons:

For one, when we use our debit and credit cards, those intermediaries (basically, the big banks) take a cut. Subsequently, over the years our increased reliance on plastic has caused prices to inflate so retailers can recover the service fees placed on all debit and credit purchases.

"Prices have to go up," says Cameron, "because when, say 30 years ago, only 20 per cent of transactions were through cards, many retailers thought 'as a business owner I can capture that 20 per cent of the market that isn't carrying cash.' Now the situation has flipped - it's more like 80 percent of people pay using various cards all the time and, generally, if the purchase is over 20 dollars that proportion is even higher. The net result is price inflation on all goods because merchants assume a card will be used by the customer, so they add a few percent to the price."

The second reason has to do with how the Mint determines the overall health of the economy. Studying the velocity of the turnover of money, economists determine the strength of our economy based on how quickly money exchanges hands.

"If more money is transacted more quickly from one person to another to another, the faster the economy will grow," explains Cameron. "If you take three percent - in many cases it's more - out of the equation to pay Visa and MasterCard, the velocity of the turnover of money slows down. If I spend a dollar in a retail shop, the retailer only receives 97 cents - or less - to spend somewhere else."

"There's still a role for the banks, and it's a huge one, when it comes to the business of supplying credit, but it's the every day transactions that people already have the money for that the Mint wants to get back on track."

Enter the MintChip. The Mint has asked software developers to show us what a world without credit or debit cards might look like. YEG Live has one of about 40 accepted submissions out of 500 applications and you can see their vision for the MintChip here:

If you like what you see, you can vote everyday for YEG Live's MoneyBelt app. They sure would appreciate it.

Now aren't you glad you read all the way through? The world is changing. YEG Live is here to help you keep up.

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