Live events return with a bang, paving opportunities for digital payments

A significant recovery in live events is underway in Asia Pacific, as superstar performers resume global tours and fans pull out the stops to immerse themselves in the magic of live performances once again following a pandemic-induced lull.

According to Visa’s latest Green Shoots Radar survey, 33% of Asia Pacific respondents said they have attended a live music concert event in the last 12 months. Aside from live music events, theatre and musical performances, sporting events, e-sports, and fashion shows also captured the public’s imagination.

The return of live events has been so powerful that when K-pop group BLACKPINK unveiled its Born Pink world tour, tickets for its Hong Kong concerts sold out in hours. Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour in Singapore saw 22 million people – 4 times of the city’s population – register for pre-sale tickets, with strong demand from fans in neighbouring Southeast Asian counties. It isn’t only pop stars that people want to see: renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s November 2023 concert in Hong Kong also saw resale prices go as high as 8.5 times their retail price.

The return of live music events has contributed to the revival of tourism in the last 12 months as consumers travel not only for leisure, but also to see and hear their favourite stars in the flesh once more.

Have card, will travel for concerts

According to Visa’s latest Green Shoots Radar survey conducted across 17 markets in Asia Pacific, the top countries that respondents in the region travelled to attend live music concerts were Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, and the United States . Among those who travelled overseas to attend a concert, 47% planned a trip combining the event with other tourist activities. This shows how the return of live music events can have a knock-on effect on local tourism.

Card and digital payments play a vital role in the consumer journey. The survey showed that credit and debit cards were the top payment methods used by Asia Pacific respondents for pre-event ticket purchases, with more than half (58%) stating that they used them to buy tickets.

These match other insights from the Green Shoots Radar report, which found that 36% of respondents in Asia Pacific successfully applied for a new credit or debit card in the last six months , driven by convenience like instant mobile wallet provisioning and ease of sign-ups. In addition, the wide acceptance of cards globally makes it easier than ever for concertgoers to pay for their tickets no matter where concerts are held.

Yet, there are opportunities to increase the role that cards play during live events. According to the report, cash is still the main mode of payment for certain purchases during live events, especially for food and beverages. These present a chance for event organisers and venues to improve card and digital acceptance at live music events, where concertgoers can pay at a tap of their cards or with mobile phones. This can save time, reduce friction, and increase live event immersion.

Making cashless payments the norm

With more than half (58%) of those surveyed reporting that they intend to attend live music concerts in the next 12 months, card issuers have a major opportunity to enhance consumer experience with targeted benefits like discounts, cashback, free giveaways, or VIP access.

For example, in the case of the Taylor Swift concerts in Singapore, UOB card members from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam gained exclusive access to pre-sale and reserved tickets. That exclusive offer led to a reported 45% increase in daily application submissions for the Singapore bank’s credit cards, while debit card applications increased by half.

Businesses can also capitalise on the resurgence of event travel to bundle accommodations, shopping and other deals. For example, hotel and concert ticket packages were popular with Filipino Swifties planning to fly into Singapore for Swift’s concert. As her Eras tour has shown, the commercial benefits for hosting a large and popular music event can be massive for a city – Los Angeles, for example, estimates a US$350 million boost to its economy from the mega star’s shows.

The return of live events is not just a revival of entertainment and tourism. At its heart, it also reflects a desire for people to reconnect with one another and their communities, which was curtailed during the pandemic.

With the trend here to stay – studies estimate that the live music market in Asia Pacific will grow faster than other regions from now to 2025. As a global leader in digital payments, Visa is committed to working with our partners and the ecosystem to create safer and ever more convenient payments for live music events and beyond.

Contact Visa to access the full Green Shoots Radar report and unlock the complete picture on consumer insights in Asia Pacific.