I had the privilege to attend the Irish Pubs Global awards 2 day event on 9th / 10th October. Festy was funded by the Dash Treasury to be the headline sponsor of event. My sole purpose of attending was purely because I wanted to witness Festy in action and test out the payment solution for myself. I also felt it was important to have a representative from the Dash community in attendance to help network and establish business contacts for future Dash integrations.

Don’t let the Festy name fool you. Festy is not just a payment solution for festivals it’s also perfectly suited as a point of sale solution that can be utilised for a number of industries such as the hospitality sector.

On the 1st day was a series of networking events involving other sponsors of the event including finance, software and marketing solutions targeting the pub trade. The majority of attendees were mostly unsurprisingly publicans that own flagship Irish pubs around the world. Festy CEO Graham De Barra gave a presentation explaining the Festy concept and digital payments solution. I was sitting on a table with owners of a network of Irish pub establishments in Australia and Gibraltar. It was interesting for me see how this particular audience of business owners completely new to the world of blockchain technology would interpret the presentation. At first I saw a few raised eyebrows trying to decipher whether the Festy wristband was just a gimmick or if it genuinely had any real world application for their businesses. It was only when Graham presented this slide I saw people around the room suddenly sit up straight and fully alert. I guess money does talk and in business numbers count for everything.

Straight after the presentation finished I wanted to hear directly what pub owners thought of Festy and digital payments. I did my usual run down of here’s my business card and these are the benefits to using Dash. Quite often on the Dash Force 3 amigos podcast we point out that business owners are paying up to 3% fees for using Visa/Mastercard for transactions and this is why Dash is going to revolutionise the way we do commerce and how it is advantageous for both business owners and consumers. One Landlady was quick to tell me American Express has a 4% transaction fee although I have not yet confirmed this. Following this conversation I had another business owner point out to me by using the Festy lower transaction fee payment solution it will enable them to sell drinks at a lower price with same profit margin markup as before giving them a competitive edge over rival establishments in close proximity.

Here is a highlight video from day 1:

The 2nd day was the build up to the main event the gala dinner and awards ceremony. At the entrance I was greeted by HuiChi from team Festy and presented with a preloaded Festy contactless card to redeem 1 drink from the bar.

This was the moment of truth for me and I was not disappointed. The Festy contactless card and the Festy POS mobile terminal at the bar worked without a fault. On the mobile terminal was a selection of 3 drink options (Bulmers, Heineken or Guinness). I selected Guinness (When in Rome) and then simply tapped my Festy card to the top of device and it was as simple as that. It was effortless and easy and allowed the bar staff to focus on serving drinks and save time not having to deal with other payment methods which increases service time considerably. Curious to test the functionality of Festy in the spirit of quality assurance of course, I tried to order a second Guinness from the bar with the same Festy card which was rejected. So there you have it Dash fans, I’m now a walking testament and can verify the Festy payment solution works as intended even if there was a momentary part of embarrassment on my behalf at the bar. The things I do for the Dash community. It’s a hard job right, but someone has to do it 😉

Here is a highlight video from day 2:

Darren Dineen COO & Head of Business Development for Festy and Opera Incubator kindly agreed to answer some questions following the event:

How did you first connect with Irish Pubs Global and why did you feel the event was perfectly suited for Festy and Dash?

It was quite fortuitous actually. I had just returned from my first international business venture consulting for a chain of Irish pubs in the United States based in NY and CT back in 2014 when I met one of the driving members of IPG in my hometown pub. He seemed to be very interested in some of my ideas and insisted that I contacted him if I saw an opportunity to do so. I’ve held that card close to my chest for a long time and decided that now was the time to play it with Festy. The event in Dublin seemed like the perfect platform for launching our business to a market that we know very well and why start with 1 pub when you can begin with 7,000?

Did you manage to make any business contacts or secure leads at the event?

Yes. The IPG Awards was hugely successful for us in forging strong partnerships with our prospective clients in Ireland, the UK, Europe, North America, South America and Asia. We also generated massive interest from international businesses and investors that we did not expect and cannot say much more about right now! It’s going to be a packed 2018 for Festy and we’re excited to see it unfold.

What was the user response to Festy payments at the bar? Was the feedback positive?

We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from all of the users during our demonstration of Festy payments at the bar. Jake Walsh and Fergal Eccles, our two junior developers, were stationed at the POS terminals for the duration of the demo and relayed all of the questions to us afterwards. Mostly these business owners wanted to know bottom line brass tacks: how would this system save on time & cost?

Will the Festy payment solution have to be tailored to different industries like the hospitality sector for example?

Yes. Festy will be customised and modularised not just for different sectors, but for each client within that sector.

When did Festy introduce contactless cards in addition to the wristbands and why?

The Festy wristband was our first product as we had initially been solely focused on the festival market given that it’s the most apparent use case for us. We quickly developed our second product, Festy contactless crypto cards, due to the retail market demand for our payment solutions. We wanted to use a familiar product so as to not reinvent the wheel and make the transition from traditional contactless payments to Festy as seamless as possible.

Can you tell me more about the Festy automated book keeping feature?

The use of blockchain technology enables us to collect data & analytics in real time creating a positive feedback loop which automates stock management and other day to day operations that are otherwise manual and tedious.

From conversations I had with business owners at event they were most interested in transaction fees and what steps are needed to integrate Festy solution in to their businesses. Can we expect a Festy integration process / roll out plan anytime soon?

The interest generated from the business owners you’re referring to has pushed us into 6th gear and we estimate that a full scale rollout will be completed by the beginning of Q1 2018.

After the event I received an email asking me how secure Festy is as it uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for payments. Can you provide me with some insight with regards to the security measures Festy has in place please?

Our predecessors that have developed NFC based payment systems were not using the same underlying technology that we are using and therefore were susceptible to security breaches and hacks. We are well aware of the security measures that one must undertake when responsible for user’s funds and our colleagues in the blockchain space have done a stellar job of setting an example for creating impenetrable financial systems using end to end encryption. We have followed that example and built upon it to make Festy the most secure NFC payment solution on the market.

What does 2018 hold in store for Festy?

2018 will be a jam packed year for Festy. With client requests from festivals & bars coming from all corners of the globe, we expect to bring crypto payments and blockchain to everyday people. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the core team at Opera Incubator, so we welcome anyone to get in touch with us and share a Festy beverage or two in your city soon!

Thanks to Darren for answering my questions. Below is a gallery of pics of the Festy POS and various photos from the event.

Here are my final thoughts on my experience and visit to Irish Pubs Global awards.

Seeing Festy in action and watching people react to the simplicity of the payment solution was a fantastic and enjoyable experience. The free redeemable drink at the bar using Festy served as an excellent conversation starter that had everyone talking about digital payments. For me it was a very similar experience when setting people up with Dash wallets and sending them their first tip. There is something magically tangible about seeing and using the solution in order for people to fully grasp the concept and understand it’s full potential. Sometimes words simply are not enough, in this case actions speak louder than words. Festy perfectly nailed the execution of the event and the team were on top form. There was no hiccups and the 2 mobile payment terminals setup at the bar worked flawlessly without error. The experience left me feeling excited for the future of Dash. If Festy are successful in integrating Dash payments in businesses and services in Ireland I may just have to consider relocating.

The Festy team were professional in their approach and I spent some considerable time having discussions with the developers from Opera Incubator about the future of digital payments. Having met CEO Graham & COO Darren in person previously it was important for me to talk to the team behind the scenes. I have to say I was not disappointed. Festy is comprised of a fully international team of talented individuals from various backgrounds all extremely passionate about blockchain technology and they all openly expressed to me how they’re fully committed to Dash as a strategic business partner. I felt a real buzz being around the team, just talking alone to team members Florin from Switzerland, Patrick from France and Rui from Portugal you could feel an electric energy of enthusiasm that they’re excited for the future. Festy has a clear vision and mission objective; They want businesses and consumers to be using Dash Digital Cash and they believe Festy is the solution that can make it happen.

Opera Incubator HQ is based in Cork, Ireland. CEO Graham has informed me that they already have a number of local businesses interested and have sought the backing and blessing from the Chamber of Commerce to move forward. I believe 2018 will be a fantastic year for Festy. Dash community – could Cork city in Ireland become the first true Dash Digital Cash eco-system economy? Not only would this serve as a perfect template to roll out to other cities but perhaps a perfect location for the Dash conference next year?… Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

The future is certainly looking bright for Opera Incubator and I’m pleased to have Festy as a strategic business partner for Dash. The energy and passion I witnessed from the Festy team was outstanding. The Festy team truly want to use Dash as a vehicle to change the world with digital payments freeing businesses and consumers from the legacy banking system. I very much welcome this and will be eagerly watching Festy’s future activities very closely as well as cheering them on from the sidelines. Great job Team Festy, let’s put Dash on the map!